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Environ Health Perspect. 1997 October; 105(10): 1116–1124.
PMCID: PMC1470374
Research Article

Quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) for estrogen binding to the estrogen receptor: predictions across species.


The recognition of adverse effects due to environmental endocrine disruptors in humans and wildlife has focused attention on the need for predictive tools to select the most likely estrogenic chemicals from a very large number of chemicals for subsequent screening and/or testing for potential environmental toxicity. A three-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) model using comparative molecular field analysis (CoMFA) was constructed based on relative binding affinity (RBA) data from an estrogen receptor (ER) binding assay using calf uterine cytosol. The model demonstrated significant correlation of the calculated steric and electrostatic fields with RBA and yielded predictions that agreed well with experimental values over the entire range of RBA values. Analysis of the CoMFA three-dimensional contour plots revealed a consistent picture of the structural features that are largely responsible for the observed variations in RBA. Importantly, we established a correlation between the predicted RBA values for calf ER and their actual RBA values for human ER. These findings suggest a means to begin to construct a more comprehensive estrogen knowledge base by combining RBA assay data from multiple species in 3D-QSAR based predictive models, which could then be used to screen untested chemicals for their potential to bind to the ER. Another QSAR model was developed based on classical physicochemical descriptors generated using the CODESSA (Comprehensive Descriptors for Structural and Statistical Analysis) program. The predictive ability of the CoMFA model was superior to the corresponding CODESSA model.

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