Allosteric modulation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represents a novel approach to the development of probes and therapeutics that is expected to enable subtype-specific regulation of central nervous system target receptors. The metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlus) are class C GPCRs that play important neuromodulatory roles throughout the brain, as such they are attractive targets for therapeutic intervention for a number of psychiatric and neurological disorders including anxiety, depression, Fragile X Syndrome, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. Over the last fifteen years, selective allosteric modulators have been identified for many members of the mGlu family. The vast majority of these allosteric modulators are thought to bind within the transmembrane-spanning domains of the receptors to enhance or inhibit functional responses. A combination of mutagenesis-based studies and pharmacological approaches are beginning to provide a better understanding of mGlu allosteric sites. Collectively, when mapped onto a homology model of the different mGlu subtypes based on the β(2)-adrenergic receptor, the previous mutagenesis studies suggest commonalities in the location of allosteric sites across different members of the mGlu family. In addition, there is evidence for multiple allosteric binding pockets within the transmembrane region that can interact to modulate one another. In the absence of a class C GPCR crystal structure, this approach has shown promise with respect to the interpretation of mutagenesis data and understanding structure-activity relationships of allosteric modulator pharmacophores.
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