table_1_TNF Receptor Type II as an Emerging Drug Target for the Treatment of Cancer, Autoimmune Diseases, and Graft-Versus-Host Disease: Current Perspectives and In Silico Search for Small Molecule Binders.PDF

There is now compelling evidence that TNF receptor type II (TNFR2) is predominantly expressed on CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), and plays a major role in the expansion and function of Tregs and MDSCs. Consequently, targeting of TNFR2 by either antagonists or agonists may represent a novel strategy in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, by downregulating or upregulating suppressor cell activity. The advance in the understanding of complex structure of TNFR2 and its binding with TNF at molecular levels offers opportunity for structure-guided drug discovery. This article reviews the current evidences regarding the decisive role of TNFR2 in immunosuppressive function of Tregs and MDSCs, and the current effort to develop novel TNFR2-targeting therapeutic agents in the treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and graft-versus-host disease. To shed light on the potential TNFR2-targeting small molecules, we for the first time performed virtual screening of 400,000 natural compounds against the two TNF-binding sites, regions 3 and 4, of TNFR2. Our result showed that the top hits at region 4 had slightly higher docking energies than those at region 3. Nevertheless, free energy calculation from the TNF–TNFR2 molecular dynamics simulation revealed that the binding strength of TNF in region 3 is only one-tenth of that in region 4. This suggests that region 3 is a potentially more viable binding site to be targeted by small molecules than region 4. Therefore, the effectiveness in targeting region 3 of TNFR2 deserves further investigation.