Direct Selection of DNA-Encoded Libraries for Biased Agonists of GPCRs on Live Cells

Bo Cai, Amal El Daibani, Yuntian Bai, Tao Che, Casey J. Krusemark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest superfamily of human membrane target proteins for approved drugs. GPCR ligands can have a complex array of pharmacological activities. Among these activities, biased agonists have potential to serve as both chemical probes to understand specific aspects of receptor signaling and therapeutic leads with more specific, desired activity. Challenges exist, however, in the development of new biased activators due, in part, to the low throughput of traditional screening approaches. DNA-encoded chemical libraries (DELs) dramatically improve the throughput of drug discovery by allowing a collective selection, rather than discrete screening, of large compound libraries. The use of DELs has been largely limited to affinity-based selections against purified protein targets, which identify binders only. Herein, we report a split protein complementation approach that allows direct identification of DNA-linked molecules that induce the dimerization of two proteins. We used this selection with a DEL against opioid receptor GPCRs on living cells for the identification of small molecules that possess the specific function of activation of either β-arrestin or G protein signaling pathways. This approach was applied to δ-, μ-, and κ-opioid receptors and enabled the discovery of compound [66,66], a selective, G-protein-biased agonist of the κ-opioid receptor (EC50 = 100 nM, Emax = 82%, Gi bias factor = 6.6). This approach should be generally applicable for the direct selection of chemical inducers of dimerization from DELs and expand the utility of DELs to enrich molecules with a specific and desired biochemical function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1088
Number of pages13
JournalJACS Au
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 24 2023


  • DNA-encoded libraries
  • G-protein-coupled receptors
  • biased agonists
  • chemical inducers of dimerization
  • split protein complementation


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