Scientific reports

From receptor binding kinetics to signal transduction; a missing link in predicting in vivo drug-action.

PMID 29075004


An important question in drug discovery is how to overcome the significant challenge of high drug attrition rates due to lack of efficacy and safety. A missing link in the understanding of determinants for drug efficacy is the relation between drug-target binding kinetics and signal transduction, particularly in the physiological context of (multiple) endogenous ligands. We hypothesized that the kinetic binding parameters of both drug and endogenous ligand play a crucial role in determining cellular responses, using the NK1 receptor as a model system. We demonstrated that the binding kinetics of both antagonists (DFA and aprepitant) and endogenous agonists (NKA and SP) have significantly different effects on signal transduction profiles, i.e. potency values, in vitro efficacy values and onset rate of signal transduction. The antagonistic effects were most efficacious with slowly dissociating aprepitant and slowly associating NKA while the combination of rapidly dissociating DFA and rapidly associating SP had less significant effects on the signal transduction profiles. These results were consistent throughout different kinetic assays and cellular backgrounds. We conclude that knowledge of the relationship between in vitro drug-target binding kinetics and cellular responses is important to ultimately improve the understanding of drug efficacy in vivo.