Overexpression of pituitary tumor–transforming 1 (PTTG1) is associated with thyroid cancer. We found elevated PTTG1 levels in the thyroid tumors of a mouse model of follicular thyroid carcinoma (TRβPV/PV mice). Here we examined the molecular mechanisms underlying elevated PTTG1 levels and the contribution of increased PTTG1 to thyroid carcinogenesis. We showed that PTTG1 was physically associated with thyroid hormone β receptor (TRβ) as well as its mutant, designated PV. Concomitant with thyroid hormone–induced (T3-induced) degradation of TRβ, PTTG1 proteins were degraded by the proteasomal machinery, but no such degradation occurred when PTTG1 was associated with PV. The degradation of PTTG1/TRβ was activated by the direct interaction of the liganded TRβ with steroid receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3), which recruits proteasome activator PA28γ. PV, which does not bind T3, could not interact directly with SRC-3/PA28γ to activate proteasome degradation, resulting in elevated PTTG1 levels. The accumulated PTTG1 impeded mitotic progression in cells expressing PV. Our results unveil what we believe to be a novel mechanism by which PTTG1, an oncogene, is regulated by the liganded TRβ. The loss of this regulatory function in PV led to an aberrant accumulation of PTTG1 disrupting mitotic progression that could contribute to thyroid carcinogenesis.
The potency and efficacy of ligands for nuclear receptors (NR) result both from the affinity of the ligand for the receptor and the affinity that various coregulatory proteins have for ligand-receptor complexes; the latter interaction, however, is rarely quantified. To understand the molecular basis for ligand potency and efficacy, we developed dual time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (tr-FRET) assays and quantified both ligand and coactivator/corepressor binding to the thyroid hormone receptor (TR). Promoter-bound TR exerts dual transcriptional regulatory functions, recruiting corepressor proteins and repressing transcription in absence of thyroid hormones (THs), and shedding corepressors in favor of coactivators upon binding agonists, activating transcription. Our tr-FRET assays involve a TRE sequence labeled with terbium (fluorescence donor), TRβ•RXRα heterodimer and fluorescein-labeled NR interaction domains of coactivator SRC3 or corepressor NCoR (fluorescence acceptors). Through coregulator titrations, we could determine the affinity of SRC3 or NCoR for TRE-bound TR•RXR heterodimers, unliganded or saturated with different THs. Alternatively, through ligand titrations, we could determine the relative potencies of different THs. TR agonist potencies were GC-1~T3~TRIAC~T4>>rT3, for both coactivator recruitment and corepressor dissociation; the affinity of SRC3 binding to TR-ligand complexes followed a similar trend. This highlights that the low activity of rT3 derives both from its low affinity for TR and the low affinity of SRC for the TR-rT3 complex. The TR antagonist NH-3 failed to induce SRC3 recruitment but did effect NCoR dissociation. These assays provide quantitative information on the affinity of two key interactions that are determinants of NR ligand potency and efficacy.
Mutations of the thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) gene cause resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH). RTH is characterized by increased serum thyroid hormone associated with nonsuppressible thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and impaired growth. It is unclear how the actions of TRβ mutants are modulated in vivo to affect the manifestation of RTH. Using a mouse model of RTH that harbors a knockin mutation of the TRβ gene (TRβPV mouse), we investigated the effect of the steroid hormone receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3) on RTH. In TRβPV mice deficient in SRC-3, dysfunction of the pituitary-thyroid axis and hypercholesterolemia was lessened, but growth impairment of RTH was worsened. The lessened dysfunction of the pituitary-thyroid axis was attributed to a significant decrease in growth of the thyroid and pituitary. Serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) was further reduced in TRβPV mice deficient in SRC-3. This effect led to reduced signaling of the IGF-1/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway that is known to mediate cell growth and proliferation. Thus, SRC-3 modulates RTH by at least two mechanisms, one via its role as a receptor coregulator and the other via its growth regulatory role through the IGF-1/PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling.
Small molecules, namely, coactivator binding inhibitors (CBIs), that block estrogen signaling by directly inhibiting the interaction of the estrogen receptor (ER) with coactivator proteins act in a fundamentally different way than traditional antagonists, which displace the endogenous ligand estradiol. To complement our prior efforts at CBI discovery by de novo design, we used high-throughput screening to identify CBIs of novel structure and subsequently investigated two hits by analog synthesis, finding many compounds with low micromolar potencies in cell-based reporter gene assays. We examined structure-activity trends in both series, using induced-fit computational docking to propose binding poses for these molecules in the coactivator binding groove. Analysis of the structure of the ER-steroid receptor coactivator (SRC) complex suggests that all four hydrophobic residues within the SRC nuclear receptor box sequence are important binding elements. Thus, insufficient water displacement as the smaller CBIs bind at the expansive complexation site may be limiting the potency of compounds in these series, which suggests that higher potency CBIs might be found by screening compound libraries enriched in larger molecules.
coactivator binding inhibitor; estrogen antagonist; estrogen receptor; molecular modeling; structure-activity relationships
Epigenetic regulation of gene expression is essential in embryonic development and contributes to cancer pathology. We used a cell-based imaging assay that measures derepression of a silenced GFP reporter to identify novel classes of compounds involved in epigenetic regulation. This Locus Derepression (LDR) assay was screened against a 69,137-member chemical library using quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS), a titration-response method that assays compounds at multiple concentrations. From structure-activity relationships of the 411 actives recovered from the qHTS, six distinct chemical series were chosen for further study. Forty-eight qHTS actives and analogs were counter screened using the parental line of the LDR cells, which lack the GFP reporter. Three series, 8-hydroxy quinoline, quinoline-8-thiol and 1,3,5-thiadiazinane-2-thione, were not fluorescent and re-confirmed activity in the LDR cells. The three active series did not inhibit histone deacetylase activity in nuclear extracts or reactivate the expression of the densely methylated p16 gene in cancer cells. However, one series induced expression of the methylated CDH13 gene and inhibited the viability of several lung cancer lines at submicromolar concentrations. These results suggest that the identified small molecules act on epigenetic or transcriptional components and validate our approach of using a cell-based imaging assay in conjunction with qHTS.
epigenetic; small molecule; GFP; HTS; HDAC; cell assay; cancer
Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are hormone-regulated transcription factors. TRs are generally thought to bind to their DNA target sites as homodimers or as TR/retinoid X receptor (RXR) heterodimers. However, we have shown that certain TR isoforms, such as TRβ0, can bind as trimers to a subset of naturally-occurring DNA elements. We report here that this trimeric mode of DNA recognition by TRβ0 also results in an enhanced recruitment of coactivators in vitro and increased transcriptional activation in cells compared to TRβ0 dimers. At least part of this enhanced coactivator recruitment reflects a selectively enhanced avidity of the TRβ0 trimer for a specific LXXLL interaction motif within the p160 coactivators. TRβ0 trimers also recruit certain coactivators at lower concentrations of T3 hormone and exhibit distinct coactivator stoichiometries than do TRβ0 dimers. We conclude that trimer formation confers isoform-specific DNA recognition and transcriptional regulatory properties that are not observed for TR dimers.
thyroid hormone receptor; coactivator; transcriptional activation; coregualtor recruitment
Small molecule modulators are critical for dissecting and understanding signaling pathways at the molecular level. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a cytokine that signals via the JAK/STAT pathway and is implicated in cancer and inflammation. To identify modulators of this pathway, we screened a chemical collection against an IL-6 responsive cell line stably expressing a beta-lactamase reporter gene fused to a sis-inducible element (SIE-bla cells). This assay was optimized for a 1536-well microplate format and screened against 11,693 small molecules using quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS), a method that assays a chemical library at multiple concentrations to generate titration-response profiles for each compound. The qHTS recovered 564 actives with well-fit curves that clustered into 32 distinct chemical series of 13 activators and 19 inhibitors. A retrospective analysis of the qHTS data indicated that single concentration data at 1.5 and 7.7 uM scored 35 and 71% of qHTS actives, respectively, as inactive and were therefore false negatives. Following counter screens to identify fluorescent and nonselective series, we found four activator and one inhibitor series that modulated SIE-bla cells but did not show similar activity in reporter gene assays induced by EGF and hypoxia. Small molecules within these series will make useful tool compounds to investigate IL-6 signaling mediated by JAK/STAT activation.
IL-6; small molecule; HTS; STAT; assay
Study of molecular actions of thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) mutants in vivo has been facilitated by creation of a mouse model (TRβPV mouse) that harbors a knockin mutant of TRβ (denoted PV). PV, which was identified in a patient with resistance to thyroid hormone, has lost T3 binding activity and transcription capacity. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer exhibited by TRβPV/PV mice has allowed the elucidation of novel oncogenic activity of a TRβ mutant (PV) [PAS1]beyond nucleus-initiated transcription. PV was found to physically interact with the regulatory p85α subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) in both the nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments. This protein-protein interaction activates the PI3K signaling by increasing phosphorylation of AKT, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), and p70S6K. PV, via interaction with p85α, also activates the PI3K-integrin-linked kinase-matrix metalloproteinase-2 signaling pathway in the extra-nuclear compartment. The PV-mediated PI3K activation results in increased cell proliferation, motility, migration, and metastasis.
In addition to affecting these membrane-initiated signaling events, PV affects [PAS2]the stability of the pituitary tumor-transforming gene (PTTG) product. PTTG (also known as securin), a critical mitotic checkpoint protein, is physically associated with TRβ or PV in vivo. Concomitant with T3-induced degradation of TRβ, PTTG is degraded by the proteasome machinery, but no such degradation occurs when PTTG is associated with PV. The degradation of PTTG/TRβ is activated by the direct interaction of the T3-bound TRβ with the steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC-3) that recruits a proteasome activator (PA28γ). PV that does not bind T3 cannot interact directly with SRC-3/PA28γ to activate proteasome degradation, and the absence of degradation results in an aberrant accumulation of PTTG. The PV-induced failure of timely degradation of PTTG results in mitotic abnormalities. PV, via novel protein-protein interaction and transcription regulation, acts to antagonize the functions of wild-type TRs and contributes to the oncogenic functions of this mutation.
thyroid hormone receptors; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; steroid hormone receptor coactivator-3; nongenomic actions; thyroid hormone receptor mutants; mouse model; thyroid cancer; carcinogenesis
The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is a nuclear hormone receptor that regulates cell proliferation, cell differentiation, and calcium homeostasis. The receptor is activated by vitamin D analogs that induce the disruption of VDR-corepressor binding and promote VDR-coactivator interactions. The interactions between VDR and coregulators are essential for VDR-mediated transcription. Small molecule inhibition of VDR–coregulator binding represents an alternative method to the traditional ligand-based approach in order to modulate the expression of VDR target genes. A high throughput fluorescence polarization screen that quantifies the inhibition of binding between VDR and a fluorescently labeled steroid receptor coactivator 2 peptide was applied to discover the new small molecule VDR–coactivator inhibitors, 3-indolyl-methanamines. Structure-activity relationship studies with 3-indolyl-methanamine analogs were used to determine their mode of VDR-binding and to produce the first VDR-selective and irreversible VDR–coactivator inhibitors with the ability to regulate the transcription of the human VDR target gene, TRPV6.
Vitamin D receptor; steroid receptor coactivator; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; 3-indolyl-methanamines; TRPV6
The thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are transcription factors that mediate the pleiotropic activities of the thyroid hormone, T3. Four T3-binding isoforms, TRα1, TRβ1, TRβ2, and TRβ3, are encoded by two genes, THRA and THRB. Mutations and altered expression of TRs have been reported in human cancers. A targeted germline mutation of the Thrβ gene in the mouse leads to spontaneous development of follicular thyroid carcinoma (TRβPV/PV mouse). The TRβPV mutant has lost T3 binding activity and displays potent dominant negative activity. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer exhibited by TRβPV/PV mice has recently led to the discovery of novel non-genomic actions of TRβPV that contribute to thyroid carcinogenesis. These actions involve direct physical interaction of TRβPV with cellular proteins, namely the regulatory subunit of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (p85α), the pituitary tumor-transforming gene (PTTG) and β-catenin, that are critically involved in cell proliferation, motility, migration, and metastasis. Thus, a TRβ mutant (TRβPV), via a novel mode of non-genomic action, acts as an oncogene in thyroid carcinogenesis.
thyroid hormone receptor mutants; thyroid cancer; non-genomic action; phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; β-catenin; mouse model
Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) can repress or activate target genes depending on the absence or presence of thyroid hormone (T3), respectively. This hormone-dependent gene regulation is mediated by recruitment of corepressors in the absence of T3 and coactivators in its presence. Many TR-interacting coactivators have been characterized in vitro. In comparison, few studies have addressed the developmental roles of these cofactors in vivo. We have investigated the role of coactivators in transcriptional activation by TR during postembryonic tissue remodeling by using amphibian metamorphosis as a model system. We have previously shown that steroid receptor coactivator 3 (SRC3) is expressed and upregulated during metamorphosis, suggesting a role in gene regulation by liganded TR. Here, we have generated transgenic tadpoles expressing a dominant negative form of SRC3 (F-dnSRC3). The transgenic tadpoles exhibited normal growth and development throughout embryogenesis and premetamorphic stages. However, transgenic expression of F-dnSRC3 inhibits essentially all aspects of T3-induced metamorphosis, as well as natural metamorphosis, leading to delayed or arrested metamorphosis or the formation of tailed frogs. Molecular analysis revealed that F-dnSRC3 functioned by blocking the recruitment of endogenous coactivators to T3 target genes without affecting corepressor release, thereby preventing the T3-dependent gene regulation program responsible for tissue transformations during metamorphosis. Our studies thus demonstrate that coactivator recruitment, aside from corepressor release, is required for T3 function in development and further provide the first example where a specific coactivator-dependent gene regulation pathway by a nuclear receptor has been shown to underlie specific developmental events.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is an adult lymphoid malignancy with a variable clinical course. There is considerable interest in the identification of new treatments, as most current approaches are not curative. While most patients respond to initial chemotherapy, relapsed disease is often resistant to the drugs commonly used in CLL and patients are left with limited therapeutic options. In this study, we used a luminescent cell viability assay based on ATP levels to find compounds that were potent and efficacious in killing CLL cells. We employed an in-house process of quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) to assess 8 concentrations of each member of a 2,816 compound library (including FDA-approved drugs and those known to be bio-active from commercial suppliers). Using qHTS we generated potency values on each compound in lymphocytes donated from each of six individuals with CLL and five unaffected individuals. We found 102 compounds efficacious against cells from all six individuals with CLL (“consensus” drugs) with five of these showing low or no activity on lymphocytes from a majority of normal donors, suggesting some degree of specificity for the leukemic cells. To our knowledge, this is the first study to screen a drug library against primary CLL cells to identify candidate agents for anti-cancer therapy. The results presented here offer possibilities for the development of novel drug candidates for therapeutic uses to treat CLL and other diseases.
We measured the “druggability” of the ATP-dependent luciferase derived from the firefly Photuris pennsylvanica that was optimized using directed evolution (Ultra-Glo™, Promega). Quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) was used to determine IC50’s of 198,899 samples against a formulation of Ultra-Glo luciferase (Kinase-Glo™). We found that only 0.1% of the Kinase-Glo inhibitors showed an IC50 < 10 μM compared to 0.9% found from a previous qHTS against the firefly luciferase from Photinus pyralis (lucPpy). Further, the maximum affinity identified in the lucPpy qHTS was 50 nM while for Kinase-Glo this value increased to 600 nM. Compounds with interactions stretching outside the luciferin binding pocket were largely lost with Ultra-Glo luciferase. Therefore, Ultra-Glo luciferase will show less compound interference when used as an ATP sensor compared to lucPpy. This study demonstrates the power of large-scale quantitative analysis of structure-activity relationships (>100K compounds) in addressing important questions such as a target's druggability.
chemical profiling; enzyme assay; PubChem; luciferase; quantitative high-throughput screening
Hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (HO-PBDEs) may disrupt thyroid hormone status because of their structural similarity to thyroid hormone. However, the molecular mechanisms of interactions with thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are not fully understood.
We investigated the interactions between HO-PBDEs and TRβ to identify critical structural features and physicochemical properties of HO-PBDEs related to their hormone activity, and to develop quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) models for the thyroid hormone activity of HO-PBDEs.
We used the recombinant two-hybrid yeast assay to determine the hormone activities to TRβ and molecular docking to model the ligand–receptor interaction in the binding site. Based on the mechanism of action, molecular structural descriptors were computed, selected, and employed to characterize the interactions, and finally a QSAR model was constructed. The applicability domain (AD) of the model was assessed by Williams plot.
The 18 HO-PBDEs tested exhibited significantly higher thyroid hormone activities than did PBDEs (p < 0.05). Hydrogen bonding was the characteristic interaction between HO-PBDE molecules and TRβ, and aromaticity had a negative effect on the thyroid hormone activity of HO-PBDEs. The developed QSAR model had good robustness, predictive ability, and mechanism interpretability.
Hydrogen bonding and electrostatic interactions between HO-PBDEs and TRβ are important factors governing thyroid hormone activities. The HO-PBDEs with higher ability to accept electrons tend to have weak hydrogen bonding with TRβ and lower thyroid hormone activities.
application domain; density functional theory; docking; HO-PBDEs; hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers; PBDEs; quantitative structure-activity relationship; thyroid hormone receptor
The thyroid hormone, T3, plays important roles in metabolism, growth, and differentiation. Germline mutations in thyroid hormone receptor beta (TRβ) have been identified in many individuals with resistance to thyroid hormone, a syndrome of reduced sensitivity to T3. A close association of somatic mutations of TRβ with several human cancers has become increasingly apparent, but how TRβ mutants could be involved in the carcinogenesis in vivo has not been addressed. The creation of a mouse model (TRβPV/PV mouse) that harbors a knockin mutation of TRβ (denoted TRβPV) has facilitated the study of the molecular actions of TRβ mutants in vivo. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer and the development of pituitary tumors exhibited by TRβPV/PV mice have uncovered novel functions of a TRβ mutant in tumorigenesis. It led to the important findings that the oncogenic action of TRβPV is mediated by both genomic and non-genomic actions to alter gene expression and signaling pathways activity.
thyroid hormone receptor mutants; thyroid cancer; pituitary tumor; non-genomic action; TRβPV; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; β-catenin
The nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR) regulates the activities of DNA-binding transcription factors. Recent observations of its distribution in the extranuclear compartment raised the possibility that it could have other cellular functions in addition to transcription repression. We previously showed that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling is aberrantly activated by a mutant thyroid hormone β receptor (TRβPV, hereafter referred to as PV) via physical interaction with p85α, thus contributing to thyroid carcinogenesis in a mouse model of follicular thyroid carcinoma (TRβPV/PV mouse). Since NCoR is known to modulate the actions of TRβ mutants in vivo and in vitro, we asked whether NCoR regulates PV-activated PI3K signaling. Remarkably, we found that NCoR physically interacted with and competed with PV for binding to the C-terminal SH2 (Src homology 2) domain of p85α, the regulatory subunit of PI3K. Confocal fluorescence microscopy showed that both NCoR and p85α were localized in the nuclear as well as in the cytoplasmic compartments. Overexpression of NCoR in thyroid tumor cells of TRβPV/PV mouse reduced PI3K signaling, as indicated by the decrease in the phosphorylation of its immediate downstream effector, p-AKT. Conversely, lowering cellular NCoR by siRNA knockdown in tumor cells led to overactivated p-AKT and increased cell proliferation and motility. Furthermore, NCoR protein levels were significantly lower in thyroid tumor cells than in wild-type thyrocytes, allowing more effective binding of PV to p85α to activate PI3K signaling and thus contributing to tumor progression. Taken together, these results indicate that NCoR, via protein-protein interaction, is a novel regulator of PI3K signaling and could serve to modulate thyroid tumor progression.
Thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) dysfunction leads to deafness in humans and mice. Deafness in TRβ−/− mutant mice has been attributed to TRβ-mediated control of fast-activating BK current expression in inner hair cells (IHCs). However, normal hearing in young constitutive BKα−/− mutants contradicts this hypothesis. Here we show that mice with hair cell-specific deletion of TRβ after postnatal day (P) 11 have a delay in BKα expression but normal hearing, indicating that the origin of hearing loss in TRβ−/− mutant mice manifested before P11. Analyzing the phenotype of IHCs in constitutive TRβ−/− mice we found normal Ca2+ current amplitudes, exocytosis, and shape of compound action potential waveforms. In contrast, reduced DPOAEs and cochlear microphonics associated with an abnormal structure of the tectorial membrane and enhanced tectorin levels suggest that disturbed mechanical performance is the primary cause of deafness resulting from TRβ deficiency.
hearing; TRβ; BK; conditional knockout mice; tectorin; exocytosis
The U.S. Tox21 collaborative program represents a paradigm shift in toxicity testing of chemical compounds from traditional in vivo tests to less expensive and higher throughput in vitro methods to prioritize compounds for further study, identify mechanisms of action, and ultimately develop predictive models for adverse health effects in humans. The NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) is an integral component of the Tox21 collaboration due to its quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) paradigm, in which titration-based screening is used to profile hundreds of thousands of compounds per week. Here, we describe the Tox21 collaboration, qHTS-based compound testing, and the various Tox21 screening assays that have been validated and tested at the NCGC to date.
Tox21; National Research Council; National Toxicology Program; toxicity testing; in vitro assays; NIH Roadmap; NIH Chemical Genomics Center; quantitative high-throughput screening
Reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) is a complex process which transfers cholesterol from peripheral cells to the liver for subsequent elimination from the body via feces. Thyroid hormones (THs) affect growth, development, and metabolism in almost all tissues. THs exert their actions by binding to thyroid hormone receptors (TRs). There are two major subtypes of TRs, TRα and TRβ, and several isoforms (e.g. TRα1, TRα2, TRβ1, and TRβ2). Activation of TRα1 affects heart rate, whereas activation of TRβ1 has positive effects on lipid and lipoprotein metabolism. Consequently, particular interest has been focused on the development of thyromimetic compounds targeting TRβ1, not only because of their ability to lower plasma cholesterol but also due their ability to stimulate RCT, at least in pre-clinical models. In this review we focus on THs, TRs, and on the effects of TRβ1-modulating thyromimetics on RCT in various animal models and in humans.
Cardiovascular disease; Cholesterol; Lipoprotein metabolism; Reverse cholesterol transport; Thyroid hormones; Thyroid hormone receptors
Nuclear translocation is an important step in glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling and assays that measure this process allow the identification of nuclear receptor ligands independent of subsequent functional effects. To facilitate the identification of GR-translocation agonists, an enzyme fragment complementation (EFC) cell-based assay was scaled to a 1536-well plate format to evaluate 9,920 compounds using a quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) strategy where compounds are assayed at multiple concentrations. In contrast to conventional assays of nuclear translocation the qHTS assay described here was enabled on a standard luminescence microplate reader precluding the requirement for imaging methods. The assay uses beta-galactosidase alpha complementation to indirectly detect GR-translocation in CHO-K1 cells [Fung, P., et al. Assay Drug Devel. Technol. 2006, 4(3): 263–272]. 1536-well assay miniaturization included the elimination of a media aspiration step, and the optimized assay displayed a Z′ of 0.55. qHTS yielded EC50 values for all 9,920 compounds and allowed us to retrospectively examine the dataset as a single concentration-based screen to estimate the number of false positives and negatives at typical activity thresholds. For example, at a 9 μM screening concentration the assay showed an accuracy that is comparable to typical cell-based assays as judged by the occurrence of false positives that we determined to be 1.3% or 0.3%, for a 3σ or 6σ threshold, respectively. This corresponds to a confirmation rate of ~30% or ~50%, respectively. The assay was consistent with glucocorticoid pharmacology as scaffolds with close similarity to dexamethasone were identified as active, while, for example, steroids that act as ligands to other nuclear receptors such as the estrogen receptor were found to be inactive.
qHTS; HTS; EFC; PubChem; glucocorticoid receptor; nuclear translocation; suspension cells
High-throughput screening (HTS) is increasingly being adopted in academic institutions, where the decoupling of screening and drug development has led to unique challenges, as well as novel uses of instrumentation, assay formulations, and software tools. Advances in technology have made automated unattended screening in the 1536-well plate format broadly accessible and have further facilitated the exploration of new technologies and approaches to screening. A case in point is our recently-developed quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) paradigm which tests each library compound at multiple concentrations to construct concentration-response curves (CRCs) generating a comprehensive data set for each assay (Inglese et al, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 103, 11473–11478). The practical implementation of qHTS for cell-based and biochemical assays across libraries of >100,000 compounds (e.g. between 700,000 –2,000,000 sample wells tested) requires maximal efficiency and miniaturization, and the ability to easily accommodate many different assay formats and screening protocols. Here, we describe the design and utilization of a fully-integrated and automated screening system for qHTS at the NIH Chemical Genomics Center. We report system productivity, reliability, and flexibility, as well as modifications made to increase throughput, add additional capabilities, and address limitations. The combination of this system and qHTS has lead to the generation of over 6 million CRCs from >120 assays in the last three years, and is a technology that can be widely implemented to increase efficiency of screening and lead generation.
quantitative high-throughput screening; screening; qHTS; 1536-well plate; laboratory automation; interleaved screens; laser cytometer
Thyroid hormone (T3) is critical in growth, development, differentiation, and maintenance of metabolic homeostasis. Recent studies suggest that thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) not only mediate the biological activities of T3 via nucleus-initiated transcription, but also could act via nongenomic pathways. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer exhibited by a knockin mutant mouse that harbors a dominant negative TRβ mutant (TRβPV/PV mouse) allows the elucidation of novel oncogenic activity of a TRβ mutant (PV) via extra-nuclear actions. PV physically interacts with the regulatory p85α subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) to activate the downstream AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and p70S6K and PI3K-integrin-linked kinase-matrix metalloproteinase-2 signaling pathways. The PV-mediated PI3K activation results in increased cell proliferation, motility, migration, and metastasis. Remarkably, a nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR) was found to regulate the PV-activated PI3K signaling by competing with PV for binding to the C-terminal SH2 domain of p85α. Overexpression of NCoR in thyroid tumor cells of TRβPV/PV mice reduces AKT-mTOR- p70S6K signaling. Conversely, lowering cellular NCoR by siRNA knockdown in tumor cells leads to over-activated PI3K-AKT signaling to increase cell proliferation and motility. Furthermore, NCoR protein levels are significantly lower in thyroid tumor cells than in wild type thyrocytes, allowing more effective binding of PV to p85α to activate PI3K signaling, thereby contributing to tumor progression. Thus, PV, an apo-TRβ, could act via direct protein-protein interaction to mediate critical oncogenic actions. These studies also uncovered a novel extra-nuclear role of NCoR in modulating the nongenomic actions of a mutated TRβ in controlling thyroid carcinogenesis.
thyroid hormone receptors; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; steroid hormone receptor coactivator-3; nongenomic actions; thyroid hormone receptor mutants; mouse model; thyroid cancer; carcinogenesis
The THRB gene encodes the well-described thyroid hormone (T3) receptor (TR) isoforms TRβ1 and TRβ2 and two additional variants, TRβ3 and TRΔβ3, of unknown physiological significance. TRβ1, TRβ2, and TRβ3 are bona fide T3 receptors that bind DNA and T3 and regulate expression of T3-responsive target genes. TRΔβ3 retains T3 binding activity but lacks a DNA binding domain and does not activate target gene transcription. TRΔβ3 can be translated from a specific TRΔβ3 mRNA or is coexpressed with TRβ3 from a single transcript that contains an internal TRΔβ3 translation start site. In these studies, we provide evidence that the TRβ3/Δβ3 locus is present in rat but not in other vertebrates, including humans. We compared the activity of TRβ3 with other TR isoforms and investigated mechanisms of action of TRΔβ3 at specific thyroid hormone response elements (TREs) in two cell types. TRβ3 was the most potent isoform, but TR potency was TRE dependent. TRΔβ3 acted as a cell-specific and TRE-dependent modulator of TRβ3 when coexpressed at low concentrations. At higher concentrations, TRΔβ3 was a TRE-selective and cell-specific antagonist of TRα1, -β1, and -β3. Both TRβ3 and TRΔβ3 were expressed in the nucleus in the absence and presence of hormone, and their actions were determined by cell type and TRE structure, whereas TRΔβ3 actions were also dependent on the TR isoform with which it interacted. Analysis of these complex responses implicates a range of nuclear corepressors and coactivators as cell-, TR isoform-, and TRE-specific modulators of T3 action.
Previously, we reported the development of two in vitro time-resolved Föster energy transfer (tr-FRET) based assays for evaluating the potency and efficacy of different ligands of thyroid hormone receptor (TR) for regulating the recruitment of coregulators; we could measure independently, in separate assays, both the recruitment of SRC3, a transcriptional coactivator, and the dissociation of NCoR, a transcriptional corepressor, from a TR•retinoid × receptor (RXR) heterodimer bound to a DR+4 thyroid hormone response element (TRE). Here, by utilizing the distinct emission peaks of Tb+3, the donor fluorophore used to label the TRE-bound TR•RXR heterodimers, and selecting two distinct acceptor fluorophores, fluorescein and cyanin5 to label of NCoR and SRC3, respectively, we have integrated our previous two assay formats into a single assay. Thus, we can measure the potency of TR ligands simultaneously for NCoR dissociation and SRC3 recruitment activities in a system that mimics many features of the cellular context of TR action. The performance of this dual assay was tested with a known, highly potent physiological TR ligand, T3, and with a synthetic TR antagonist NH-3. Measured potencies and efficacies of these two TR ligands from this dual assay are highly comparable to those obtained from the two independent assays. Thus, this dual-acceptor tr-FRET assay further simplifies the measurement of ligand-modulated TR-coregulator interactions and should improve the overall efficiency of the screening process of TR drug discovery programs.
Dual time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer assay; Thyroid hormone receptor; Thyroid hormone ligand screening; High throughput assay
High-throughput screening (HTS) is increasingly being adopted in academic institutions, where the decoupling of screening and drug development has led to unique challenges, as well as novel uses of instrumentation, assay formulations, and software tools. Advances in technology have made automated unattended screening in the 1,536-well plate format broadly accessible and have further facilitated the exploration of new technologies and approaches to screening. A case in point is our recently developed quantitative HTS (qHTS) paradigm, which tests each library compound at multiple concentrations to construct concentration-response curves (CRCs) generating a comprehensive data set for each assay. The practical implementation of qHTS for cell-based and biochemical assays across libraries of > 100,000 compounds (e.g., between 700,000 and 2,000,000 sample wells tested) requires maximal efficiency and miniaturization and the ability to easily accommodate many different assay formats and screening protocols. Here, we describe the design and utilization of a fully integrated and automated screening system for qHTS at the National Institutes of Health's Chemical Genomics Center. We report system productivity, reliability, and flexibility, as well as modifications made to increase throughput, add additional capabilities, and address limitations. The combination of this system and qHTS has led to the generation of over 6 million CRCs from > 120 assays in the last 3 years and is a technology that can be widely implemented to increase efficiency of screening and lead generation.