In silico Docking Studies of Fingolimod and S1P1 Agonists

Alexander Marciniak, Sara M. Camp, Joe G.N. Garcia, Robin Polt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1), originally the endothelial differentiation gene 1 receptor (EDG-1), is one of five G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) S1P15 that bind to and are activated by sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). The lipid S1P is an intermediate in sphingolipid homeostasis, and S1P1 is a major medical target for immune system modulation; agonism of the receptor produces a myriad of biological responses, including endothelial cell barrier integrity, chemotaxis, lymphocyte trafficking/targeting, angiogenesis, as well as regulation of the cardiovascular system. Use of in silico docking simulations on the crystal structure of S1P1 allows for pinpointing the residues within the receptor’s active site that actively contribute to the binding of S1P, and point to how these specific interactions can be exploited to design more effective synthetic analogs to specifically target S1P1 in the presence of the closely related receptors S1P2, S1P3, S1P4, and S1P5. We examined the binding properties of the endogenous substrate as well as a selection of synthetic sphingosine-derived S1P1 modulators of S1P1 with in silico docking simulations using the software package Molecular Operating Environment® (MOE®). The modeling studies reveal the relevance of phosphorylation, i.e., the presence of a phosphate or phosphonate moiety within the substrate for successful binding to occur, and indicate which residues are responsible for S1P1 binding of the most prominent sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor (S1PR) modulators, including fingolimod and its structural relatives. Furthermore, trends in steric preferences as for the binding of enantiomers to S1P1 could be observed, facilitating future design of receptor-specific substrates to precisely target the active site of S1P1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number247
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
StatePublished - Mar 10 2020


  • FTY720
  • GPCR
  • Molecular Operating Environment
  • S1P
  • in silico modeling
  • sphingosine phosphate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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