Partially glycosylated dendrimers block MD-2 and prevent TLR4-MD-2-LPS complex mediated cytokine responses

T.S. Barata, S. Brocchini, I. Teo, Mire Zloh, S. Shaunak

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The crystal structure of the TLR4-MD-2-LPS complex responsible for triggering powerful pro-inflammatory cytokine responses has recently become available. Central to cell surface complex formation is binding of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to soluble MD-2. We have previously shown, in biologically based experiments, that a generation 3.5 PAMAM dendrimer with 64 peripheral carboxylic acid groups acts as an antagonist of pro-inflammatory cytokine production after surface modification with 8 glucosamine molecules. We have also shown using molecular modelling approaches that this partially glycosylated dendrimer has the flexibility, cluster density, surface electrostatic charge, and hydrophilicity to make it a therapeutically useful antagonist of complex formation. These studies enabled the computational study of the interactions of the unmodified dendrimer, glucosamine, and of the partially glycosylated dendrimer with TLR4 and MD-2 using molecular docking and molecular dynamics techniques. They demonstrate that dendrimer glucosamine forms co-operative electrostatic interactions with residues lining the entrance to MD-2's hydrophobic pocket. Crucially, dendrimer glucosamine interferes with the electrostatic binding of: (i) the 4′phosphate on the di-glucosamine of LPS to Ser118 on MD-2; (ii) LPS to Lys91 on MD-2; (iii) the subsequent binding of TLR4 to Tyr102 on MD-2. This is followed by additional co-operative interactions between several of the dendrimer glucosamine's carboxylic acid branches and MD-2. Collectively, these interactions block the entry of the lipid chains of LPS into MD-2's hydrophobic pocket, and also prevent TLR4-MD-2-LPS complex formation. Our studies have therefore defined the first nonlipid-based synthetic MD-2 antagonist using both animal model-based studies of pro-inflammatory cytokine responses and molecular modelling studies of a whole dendrimer with its target protein. Using this approach, it should now be possible to computationally design additional macromolecular dendrimer based antagonists for other Toll Like Receptors. They could be useful for treating a spectrum of infectious, inflammatory and malignant diseases
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1002095
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


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