Combined in silico and in vitro studies to identify novel antidiabetic flavonoids targeting glycogen phosphorylase

Natércia F. Brás, Rui P. P. Neves, Filipa A. A. Lopes, Márcia A. S. Correia, Angelina S. Palma, Sérgio F. Sousa, Maria J. Ramos

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Novel pharmacological strategies for the treatment of diabetic patients are now focusing on inhibiting glycogenolysis steps. In this regard, glycogen phosphorylase (GP) is a validated target for the discovery of innovative antihyperglycemic molecules. Natural products, and in particular flavonoids, have been reported as potent inhibitors of GP at the cellular level. Herein, free-energy calculations and microscale thermophoresis approaches were performed to get an in-depth assessment of the binding affinities and elucidate intermolecular interactions of several flavonoids at the inhibitor site of GP. To our knowledge, this is the first study indicating genistein, 8-prenylgenistein, apigenin, 8-prenylapigenin, 8-prenylnaringenin, galangin and valoneic acid dilactone as natural molecules with high inhibitory potency toward GP. We identified: i) the residues Phe285, Tyr613, Glu382 and/or Arg770 as the most relevant for the binding of the best flavonoids to the inhibitor site of GP, and ii) the 5-OH, 7-OH, 8-prenyl substitutions in ring A and the 4′-OH insertion in ring B to favor flavonoid binding at this site. Our results are invaluable to plan further structural modifications through organic synthesis approaches and develop more effective pharmaceuticals for Type 2 Diabetes treatment, and serve as the starting point for the exploration of food products for therapeutic usage, as well as for the development of novel bio-functional food and dietary supplements/herbal medicines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104552
JournalBioorganic Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Biophysical chemistry
  • Enzyme inhibition
  • Free-energy calculations
  • Microscale thermophoresis
  • Prenylflavonoids
  • Type 2 diabetes


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