Design, Synthesis, and in Vitro Biological Evaluation of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Estrogen Receptor α Coactivator Binding

Alice L. Rodriguez, Anobel Tamrazi, Margaret L. Collins, John A. Katzenellenbogen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Nuclear receptors (NRs) complexed with agonist ligands activate transcription by recruiting coactivator protein complexes. In principle, one should be able to inhibit the transcriptional activity of the NRs by blocking this transcriptionally critical receptor-coactivator interaction directly, using an appropriately designed coactivator binding inhibitor (CBI). To guide our design of various classes of CBIs, we have used the crystal structure of an agonist-bound estrogen receptor (ER) ligand binding domain (LBD) complexed with a coactivator peptide containing the LXXLL signature motif bound to a hydrophobic groove on the surface of the LBD. One set of CBIs, based on an outside-in design approach, has various heterocyclic cores (triazenes, pyrimidines, trithianes, cyclohexanes) that mimic the tether sites of the three leucines on the peptide helix, onto which are appended leucine residue-like substituents. The other set, based on an inside-out approach, has a naphthalene core that mimics the two most deeply buried leucines, with substituents extending outward to mimic other features of the coactivator helical peptide. A fluorescence anisotropy-based coactivator competition assay was developed to measure the specific binding of these CBIs to the groove site on the ER-agonist complex with which coactivators interact; control ligand-binding assays assured that their interaction was not with the ligand binding pocket. The most effective CBIs were those from the pyrimidine family, the best binding with Ki values of ca. 30 μM. The trithiane- and cyclohexane-based CBIs appear to be poor structural mimics, because of equatorial vs axial conformational constraints, and the triazene-based CBIs are also conformationally constrained by amine-substituent-to-ring resonance overlap, which is not the case with the higher affinity alkyl-substituted pyrimidines. The pyrimidine-based CBIs appear to be the first small molecule inhibitors of NR coactivator binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-611
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of medicinal chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 29 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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