Structural insight into the mode of action of a direct inhibitor of coregulator binding to the thyroid hormone receptor

Eva Estébanez-Perpiñá, Leggy A. Arnold, Natalia Jouravel, Marie Togashi, Justin Blethrow, Ellena Mar, Phuong Nguyen, Kevin J. Phillips, John D. Baxter, Paul Webb, R. Kiplin Guy, Robert J. Fletterick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The development of nuclear hormone receptor antagonists that directly inhibit the association of the receptor with its essential coactivators would allow useful manipulation of nuclear hormone receptor signaling. We previously identified 3-(dibutylamino)-1-(4-hexylphenyl)-propan-1-one (DHPPA), an aromatic β-amino ketone that inhibits coactivator recruitment to thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ), in a high-throughput screen. Initial evidence suggested that the aromatic β-enone 1-(4-hexylphenyl)-prop-2-en-1-one (HPPE), which alkylates a specific cysteine residue on the TRβ surface, is liberated from DHPPA. Nevertheless, aspects of the mechanism and specificity of action of DHPPA remained unclear. Here, we report an x-ray structure of TRβ with the inhibitor HPPE at 2.3-Å resolution. Unreacted HPPE is located at the interface that normally mediates binding between TRβ and its coactivator. Several lines of evidence, including experiments with TRβ mutants and mass spectroscopic analysis, showed that HPPE specifically alkylates cysteine residue 298 of TRβ, which is located near the activation function-2 pocket. We propose that this covalent adduct formation proceeds through a two-step mechanism: 1) β-elimination to form HPPE; and 2) a covalent bond slowly forms between HPPE and TRβ. DHPPA represents a novel class of potent TRβ antagonist, and its crystal structure suggests new ways to design antagonists that target the assembly of nuclear hormone receptor gene-regulatory complexes and block transcription.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2919-2928
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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