Discovery of stimulator binding to a conserved pocket in the heme domain of soluble guanylyl cyclase

Jessica A. Wales, Cheng Yu Chen, Linda Breci, Andrzej Weichsel, Sylvie G. Bernier, James E.I.I. Sheppeck, Robert Solinga, Takashi Nakai, Paul A. Renhowe, Joon Jung, William R. Montfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) is the receptor for nitric oxide and a highly sought-after therapeutic target for the management of cardiovascular diseases. New compounds that stimulate sGC show clinical promise, but where these stimulator compounds bind and how they function remains unknown. Here, using a photolyzable diazirine derivative of a novel stimulator compound, IWP-051, and MS analysis, we localized drug binding to the α1 heme domain of sGC proteins from the hawkmoth Manduca sexta and from human. Covalent attachments to the stimulator were also identified in bacterial homologs of the sGC heme domain, referred to as H-NOX domains, including those from Nostoc sp. PCC 7120, Shewanella oneidensis, Shewanella woodyi, and Clostridium botulinum, indicating that the binding site is highly conserved. The identification of photoaffinitylabeled peptides was aided by a signature MS fragmentation pattern of general applicability for unequivocal identification of covalently attached compounds. Using NMR, we also examined stimulator binding to sGC from M. sexta and bacterial H-NOX homologs. These data indicated that stimulators bind to a conserved cleft between two subdomains in the sGC heme domain. L12W/T48W substitutions within the binding pocket resulted in a 9-fold decrease in drug response, suggesting that the bulkier tryptophan residues directly block stimulator binding. The localization of stimulator binding to the sGC heme domain reported here resolves the longstanding question of where stimulators bind and provides a path forward for drug discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1850-1864
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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