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28/01/2011 - General information

GRIB Members Win an International Competition

The aim was to discover new functional areas of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR)

Laura López, Cristian Obiol-Pardo and Jana Selent, members of the Computer Aided Drug Design (CADD) group of the Biomedical IT Research Group (GRIB, of the UPF-IMIM) have won the GPCR Dock 2010 competition which is organised by the PSI GPCR Network of The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla (USA).

The model put forward by the CADD group received first prize ahead of the Dutch and North-American groups, which received second and third prize respectively. The candidates submitted their proposals to the competition between the 4th June and the 30th July, with thirty-two scientist groups from all over the world competing and a total of 117 possible predictive models for the behaviour of the GPCR receptor.

The competition involved predicting the structure of the D3 dopamine receptor – a transmembrane protein coupled to the G protein (G protein coupled receptors) – bound to an inhibiting molecule. GPCR receptors comprise a large family of proteins which are transmembrane receptors, that is, by binding to molecules outside the cell, they activate transduction signals inside the cell which determine certain cell responses.

GPCRs are only found in eukaryotes (yeast, plants and animals) and the study of them is significant as they intervene in many biological processes. The ligands they bind to and which activate these receptors include light-sensitive compounds, hormones and neurotransmitters. Similarly, studying GPCRs is important because they are associated with various diseases and they are the target molecules of more than half of all known drugs.

The aim of the second edition of this competition was to discover new functional areas of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) which are of special interest both to industries and to academics.

GPCR molecular modelling is one of the research lines of the Computer-Aided Drug Design group of the GRIB (UPF-IMIM) coordinated by Manuel Pastor, researcher for the Department of Experimental Sciences and Health (CEXS) at the UPF. The structure of these receptors is studied in his laboratory for designing new drugs as well as for studying the quantitative relationship between the structure and the activity of the biomolecules.

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