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Concept: Nuclear receptor


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) delta is an important regulator of fatty acid (FA) metabolism. Angiopoietin-like 4 (Angptl4), a multifunctional protein, is one of the major targets of PPAR delta in skeletal muscle cells. Here we investigated the regulation of Angptl4 and its role in mediating PPAR delta functions using human, rat and mouse myotubes. Expression of Angptl4 was upregulated during myotubes differentiation and by oleic acid, insulin and PPAR delta agonist GW501516. Treatment with GW501516 or Angptl4 overexpression inhibited both lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity and LPL-dependent uptake of FAs whereas uptake of BSA-bound FAs was not affected by either treatment. Activation of retinoic X receptor (RXR), PPAR delta functional partner, using bexarotene upregulated Angptl4 expression and inhibited LPL activity in a PPAR delta dependent fashion. Silencing of Angptl4 blocked the effect of GW501516 and bexarotene on LPL activity. Treatment with GW501516 but not Angptl4 overexpression significantly increased palmitate oxidation. Furthermore, Angptl4 overexpression did not affect the capacity of GW501516 to increase palmitate oxidation. Basal and insulin stimulated glucose uptake, glycogen synthesis and glucose oxidation were not significantly modulated by Angptl4 overexpression. Our findings suggest that FAs-PPARdelta/RXR-Angptl4 axis controls the LPL-dependent uptake of FAs in myotubes, whereas the effect of PPAR delta activation on beta-oxidation is independent of Angptl4.

Concepts: Oleic acid, Protein, Glucose, Nuclear receptor, Retinoid X receptor, Muscle, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, Glycogen


Thyroid hormone receptor alpha 1 (TRα1) is well recognized for its importance in brain development. However, due to the difficulties in predicting thyroid hormone response elements (TREs) in silico and the lack of suitable antibodies against TRα1 for chromatin immunoprecipitation, only a few direct TRα1 target genes have been identified in the brain. Here we demonstrate that mice expressing a TRα1-GFP fusion protein from the endogenous TRα locus provide a valuable animal model to identify TRα1 target genes. To this end, we analyzed DNA-TRα1 interactions in vivo using chromatin immunoprecipitation with an anti-GFP antibody. We validated our system using established TREs from neurogranin and hairless, and by verifying additional TREs from known TRα1 target genes in brain and heart. Moreover, our model system enabled the identification of novel TRα1 target genes such as RNF166. Our results demonstrate that transgenic mice expressing a tagged nuclear receptor constitute a feasible approach to study receptor-DNA interactions in vivo, circumventing the need for specific antibodies. Models like the TRα1-GFP mice may thus pave the way for genome-wide mapping of nuclear receptor binding sites, and advance the identification of novel target genes in vivo.

Concepts: Hormone, Antibody, Gene expression, DNA, Nuclear receptor, Receptor, Thyroid hormone, Protein


We examined the role of the orphan nuclear hormone receptor CoupTFI in mediating cortical development downstream of meningeal retinoic acid signaling. CoupTFI is a regulator of cortical development known to collaborate with retinoic acid (RA) signaling in other systems. To examine the interaction of CoupTFI and cortical RA signaling we utilized Foxc1-mutant mice in which defects in meningeal development lead to alterations in cortical development due to a reduction of RA signaling. By analyzing CoupTFI;Foxc1 double mutant mice we provide evidence that CoupTFI is required for RA rescue of the ventricular zone and the neurogenic phenotypes in Foxc1-mutants. We also found that overexpression of CoupTFI in Foxc1-mutants is sufficient to rescue the Foxc1-mutant cortical phenotype in part. These results suggest that CoupTFI collaborates with RA signaling to regulate both cortical ventricular zone progenitor cell behavior and cortical neurogenesis.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Nuclear receptor, Steroid hormone receptor, Progenitor cell, Receptor, Retinoic acid receptor, Protein, Gene


Nuclear receptors are ligand-activated transcription factors and include the receptors for steroid hormones, lipophilic vitamins, sterols, and bile acids. These receptors serve as targets for development of myriad drugs that target a range of disorders. Classically defined ligands that bind to the ligand-binding domain of nuclear receptors, whether they are endogenous or synthetic, either activate receptor activity (agonists) or block activation (antagonists) and due to the ability to alter activity of the receptors are often termed receptor “modulators.” The complex pharmacology of nuclear receptors has provided a class of ligands distinct from these simple modulators where ligands display agonist/partial agonist/antagonist function in a tissue or gene selective manner. This class of ligands is defined as selective modulators. Here, we review the development and pharmacology of a range of selective nuclear receptor modulators.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Transcription factor, Protein, Cholesterol, Nuclear receptor, Receptor, Steroid, Signal transduction


Agonists of the nuclear receptor PPARγ are therapeutically used to combat hyperglycaemia associated with the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. In spite of being effective in normalization of blood glucose levels, the currently used PPARγ agonists from the thiazolidinedione type have serious side effects, making the discovery of novel ligands highly relevant. Natural products have proven historically to be a promising pool of structures for drug discovery, and a significant research effort has recently been undertaken to explore the PPARγ-activating potential of a wide range of natural products originating from traditionally used medicinal plants or dietary sources. The majority of identified compounds are selective PPARγ modulators (SPPARMs), transactivating the expression of PPARγ-dependent reporter genes as partial agonists. Those natural PPARγ ligands have different binding modes to the receptor in comparison to the full thiazolidinedione agonists, and on some occasions activate in addition PPARα (genistein, biochanin A, sargaquinoic acid, sargahydroquinoic acid, resveratrol, amorphastilbol) or the PPARγ-dimer partner retinoid X receptor (RXR; the neolignans magnolol and honokiol). A number of in vivo studies suggest that some of the natural product activators of PPARγ (honokiol, amorfrutin 1, amorfrutin B, amorphastilbol) improve metabolic parameters in diabetes animal models, partly with reduced side effects in comparison to full thiazolidinedione agonists. The bioactivity pattern as well as the dietary use of several of the identified active compounds and plant extracts warrants future research regarding their therapeutic potential and the possibility to modulate PPARγ activation by dietary interventions or food supplements.

Concepts: Retinoid X receptor, Pharmacology, Nuclear receptor, Protein, Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus, Blood sugar, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are man-made compounds interfering with hormone signaling and thereby adversely affecting human health. Recent reports provide evidence for the presence of EDCs in commercially available bottled water, including steroid receptor agonists and antagonists. However, since these findings are based on biological data the causative chemicals remain unidentified and, therefore, inaccessible for toxicological evaluation. Thus, the aim of this study is to assess the antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic activity of bottled water and to identify the causative steroid receptor antagonists. We evaluated the antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic activity of 18 bottled water products in reporter gene assays for human estrogen receptor alpha and androgen receptor. Using nontarget high-resolution mass spectrometry (LTQ-Orbitrap Velos), we acquired corresponding analytical data. We combined the biological and chemical information to determine the exact mass of the tentative steroid receptor antagonist. Further MS(n) experiments elucidated the molecule’s structure and enabled its identification. We detected significant antiestrogenicity in 13 of 18 products. 16 samples were antiandrogenic inhibiting the androgen receptor by up to 90%. Nontarget chemical analysis revealed that out of 24520 candidates present in bottled water one was consistently correlated with the antagonistic activity. By combining experimental and in silico MS(n) data we identified this compound as di(2-ethylhexyl) fumarate (DEHF). We confirmed the identity and biological activity of DEHF and additional isomers of dioctyl fumarate and maleate using authentic standards. Since DEHF is antiestrogenic but not antiandrogenic we conclude that additional, yet unidentified EDCs must contribute to the antagonistic effect of bottled water. Applying a novel approach to combine biological and chemical analysis this is the first study to identify so far unknown EDCs in bottled water. Notably, dioctyl fumarates and maleates have been overlooked by science and regulation to date. This illustrates the need to identify novel toxicologically relevant compounds to establish a more holistic picture of the human exposome.

Concepts: Buprenorphine, Nuclear receptor, Chemistry, Endocrine system, Agonist, Inverse agonist, Receptor, Receptor antagonist


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is associated with impaired clearance of β-amyloid (Aβ) from the brain, a process normally facilitated by apolipoprotein E (apoE). ApoE expression is transcriptionally induced through the action of the nuclear receptors peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma and liver X receptors in coordination with retinoid X receptors (RXRs). Oral administration of the RXR agonist bexarotene to a mouse model of AD resulted in enhanced clearance of soluble Aβ within hours in an apoE-dependent manner. Aβ plaque area was reduced more than 50% within just 72 hours. Furthermore, bexarotene stimulated the rapid reversal of cognitive, social, and olfactory deficits and improved neural circuit function. Thus, RXR activation stimulates physiological Aβ clearance mechanisms, resulting in the rapid reversal of a broad range of Aβ-induced deficits.

Concepts: Neuron, Receptor antagonist, Alzheimer's disease, Retinoid X receptor, Brain, Apolipoprotein E, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, Nuclear receptor


Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are common and severe mental illnesses of unknown etiology. Recently, we identified a rare missense mutation in the transcription factor estrogen-related receptor alpha (ESRRA) that is associated with the development of eating disorders. However, little is known about ESRRA function in the brain. Here, we report that Esrra is expressed in the mouse brain and demonstrate that Esrra levels are regulated by energy reserves. Esrra-null female mice display a reduced operant response to a high-fat diet, compulsivity/behavioral rigidity, and social deficits. Selective Esrra knockdown in the prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices of adult female mice recapitulates reduced operant response and increased compulsivity, respectively. These results indicate that Esrra deficiency in the mouse brain impairs behavioral responses in multiple functional domains.

Concepts: Body dysmorphic disorder, Brain, Nuclear receptor, Maudsley Family Therapy, Mouse, Bulimia nervosa, Eating disorders, Anorexia nervosa


Triclosan [5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol; TCS] is a synthetic, broad-spectrum antibacterial chemical used in a wide range of consumer products including soaps, cosmetics, therapeutics, and plastics. The general population is exposed to TCS because of its prevalence in a variety of daily care products as well as through waterborne contamination. TCS is linked to a multitude of health and environmental effects, ranging from endocrine disruption and impaired muscle contraction to effects on aquatic ecosystems. We discovered that TCS was capable of stimulating liver cell proliferation and fibrotic responses, accompanied by signs of oxidative stress. Through a reporter screening assay with an array of nuclear xenobiotic receptors (XenoRs), we found that TCS activates the nuclear receptor constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) and, contrary to previous reports, has no significant effect on mouse peroxisome proliferation activating receptor α (PPARα). Using the procarcinogen diethylnitrosamine (DEN) to initiate tumorigenesis in mice, we discovered that TCS substantially accelerates hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, acting as a liver tumor promoter. TCS-treated mice exhibited a large increase in tumor multiplicity, size, and incidence compared with control mice. TCS-mediated liver regeneration and fibrosis preceded HCC development and may constitute the primary tumor-promoting mechanism through which TCS acts. These findings strongly suggest there are adverse health effects in mice with long-term TCS exposure, especially on enhancing liver fibrogenesis and tumorigenesis, and the relevance of TCS liver toxicity to humans should be evaluated.

Concepts: Endocrine system, Constitutive androstane receptor, Retinoid X receptor, Receptor, Signal transduction, Cirrhosis, Nuclear receptor, Cancer


Isoflavone glucosides (2'-hydroxy,5-methoxy genistein-7-O-glucoside (1), 2'-hydroxy genistein-7-O-gentibioside (2), 5-methoxy genistein-7-O-glucoside (3), 3',5-dimethoxy genistein-7-O-glucoside (4), 2'-hydroxy genistein-7-O-glucoside (5), genistein-7-O-gentibioside (6), 2'-hydroxy,5-methoxy genistein-4',7-O-diglucoside (7), and 2'-hydroxy genistein-4',7-O-diglucoside (8) were isolated from the groundnut of Apios americana Medik. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of HR-ESI-MS, and 1D- and 2D-NMR analyses. Compounds 1, 2, 4, and 7 are new compounds presented here for the first time. Compounds 2 and 5 were proven to be androgen receptor antagonists due to their binding activities for androgen receptors (IC(50) 280 and 160 μM, respectively) and the inhibitory activity of androgen-induced expression of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) mRNA in LNCaP (prostate adenocarcinoma) cells (IC(50) 20 and 18 μM, respectively).

Concepts: Receptor, Androgen receptor, Nuclear receptor, Receptor antagonist, Prostate cancer, Protein, Testosterone, Androgen