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Identification of a conserved drug binding pocket in TMEM16 proteins.

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The TMEM16 family of calcium-activated membrane proteins includes ten mammalian paralogs (TMEM16A-K) playing distinct physiological roles with some implicated in cancer and airway diseases. Their modulators with therapeutic potential include 1PBC, a potent inhibitor with anti-tumoral properties, and the FDA-approved drug niclosamide that targets TMEM16F to inhibit syncytia formation induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here, we report cryo-EM structures of TMEM16F associated with 1PBC and niclosamide, revealing that both molecules bind the same drug binding pocket. We functionally and computationally validate this binding pocket in TMEM16A as well as TMEM16F, thereby showing that drug modulation also involves residues that are not conserved between TMEM16A and TMEM16F. This study establishes a much-needed structural framework for the development of more potent and more specific drug molecules targeting TMEM16 proteins.

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