Insights into the binding of agonist and antagonist to TAS2R16 receptor: a molecular simulation study

The human bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) belong to the GPCR family, while the activation mechanism and how TAS2Rs recognise bitter ligands are poorly understood. In this study, 3D structure of TAS2R16 was constructed using homology modelling complemented with molecular dynamics method. Salicin and probenecid were docked to TAS2R16 receptor to investigate the possible activation mechanism of TAS2R16. The results show that salicin and probenecid locate at the binding pocket made up of transmembrane helices TM3, TM5 and TM7, and the second and third extracellular loops ECL2 and ECL3. Structural analysis reveals that the network interactions at the third intracellular loop ICL3 may play a crucial role in stabilising the inactive state of TAS2R16, and structural change in the intracellular region is correlated with the activation of TAS2R16. The binding energies of salicin and probenecid to TAS2R16 are −152.81 ± 15.09 and −271.90 ± 26.97 kJ/mol, respectively, indicating that a potential antagonist should have obviously stronger binding affinity.