Our recent work on the virtual screening of small molecules to inhibit the TSLP:TSLPR interaction has just been published in Scientific Reports. This work provides a proof-of-principle for using fragments in the inhibition of TSLP:TSLPR complexation.

The pro-inflammatory cytokine thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) plays a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of various allergy disorders that are mediated by type 2 helper T-cell (Th2) responses, such as asthma and atopic dermatitis. TSLP forms a ternary complex with the TSLP receptor (TSLPR) and the interleukin-7-receptor subunit alpha (IL-7Rα), thereby activating a signaling cascade that culminates in the release of pro-inflammatory mediators. In this study, we conducted an in silico characterization of the TSLP:TSLPR complex to investigate the drugability of this complex. Two commercially available fragment libraries were screened computationally for possible inhibitors and a selection of fragments was subsequently tested in vitro. The screening setup consisted of two orthogonal assays measuring TSLP binding to TSLPR: a BLI-based assay and a biochemical assay based on a TSLP:alkaline phosphatase fusion protein. Four fragments pertaining to diverse chemical classes were identified to reduce TSLP:TSLPR complex formation to less than 75% in millimolar concentrations. We have used unbiased molecular dynamics simulations to develop a Markov state model that characterized the binding pathway of the most interesting compound. This work provides a proof-of-principle for use of fragments in the inhibition of TSLP:TSLPR complexation.

Many thanks to Dries Van Rompaey for the nice work!

Sci. Rep. (2017), 7, 17211