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2.  HNF4α Antagonists Discovered by a High-Throughput Screen for Modulators of the Human Insulin Promoter 
Chemistry & biology  2012;19(7):806-818.
SUMMARY
Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor (HNF)4α is a central regulator of gene expression in cell types that play a critical role in metabolic homeostasis, including hepatocytes, enterocytes, and pancreatic β-cells. Although fatty acids were found to occupy the HNF4α ligand-binding pocket and proposed to act as ligands, there is controversy about both the nature of HNF4α ligands as well as the physiological role of the binding. Here, we report the discovery of potent synthetic HNF4α antagonists through a high-throughput screen for effectors of the human insulin promoter. These molecules bound to HNF4α with high affinity and modulated the expression of known HNF4α target genes. Notably, they were found to be selectively cytotoxic to cancer cell lines in vitro and in vivo, although in vivo potency was limited by suboptimal pharmacokinetic properties. The discovery of bioactive modulators for HNF4α raises the possibility that diseases involving HNF4α, such as diabetes and cancer, might be amenable to pharmacologic intervention by modulation of HNF4α activity.
doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.05.014
PMCID: PMC3447631  PMID: 22840769
3.  Phenothiazine Neuroleptics Signal to the Human Insulin Promoter as Revealed by a Novel High-Throughput Screen 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2010;15(6):663-670.
A number of diabetogenic stimuli interact to influence insulin promoter activity, making it an attractive target for both mechanistic studies and therapeutic interventions. High-throughput screening (HTS) for insulin promoter modulators has the potential to reveal novel inputs into the control of that central element of the pancreatic β-cell. A cell line from human islets in which the expression of insulin and other β-cell-restricted genes are modulated by an inducible form of the bHLH transcription factor E47 was developed. This cell line, T6PNE, was adapted for HTS by transduction with a vector expressing green fluorescent protein under the control of the human insulin promoter. The resulting cell line was screened against a library of known drugs for those that increase insulin promoter activity. Members of the phenothiazine class of neuroleptics increased insulin gene expression upon short-term exposure. Chronic treatment, however, resulted in suppression of insulin promoter activity, consistent with the effect of phenothiazines observed clinically to induce diabetes in chronically treated patients. In addition to providing insights into previously unrecognized targets and mechanisms of action of phenothiazines, the novel cell line described here provides a broadly applicable platform for mining new molecular drug targets and central regulators of β-cell differentiated function.
doi:10.1177/1087057110372257
PMCID: PMC3374493  PMID: 20547533
diabetes; chlorpromazine; ethopropazine
4.  Derivation of a Retinoid X Receptor Scaffold from Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor γ Ligand 1-Di(1H-indol-3-yl)methyl-4-trifluoromethylbenzene 
ChemMedChem  2009;4(7):1106-1119.
1-Di(1H-indol-3-yl)methyl-4-trifluoromethylbenzene (DIM-Ph-4-CF3) is reported to inhibit cancer cell growth and to act as a transcriptional agonist of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and nuclear receptor 4A subfamily member 1 (NR4A1). In addition, DIM-Ph-4-CF3 exerts anticancer effects independent of these receptors because PPARγ antagonists do not block its inhibition of cell growth, and the small pocket in the NR4A1 crystal structure suggests no ligand can bind. Because PPARγ and NR4A1 heterodimerize with retinoid X receptor (RXR), and several PPARγ ligands transcriptionally activate RXR, DIM-Ph-4-CF3 was investigated as an RXR ligand. DIM-Ph-4-CF3 displaces 9-cis-retinoic acid from RXRα but does not transactivate RXRα. Structure-based design using DIM-Ph-4-CF3 as a template led to the RXRα transcriptional agonist (E)-3-[5-di(1-methyl-1H-indol-3-yl)methyl-2-thienyl]acrylic acid. Its docked pose in the RXRα ligand binding domain suggests that binding is stabilized by interactions of its carboxylate group with arginine 316, its indoles with cysteines 269 and 432, and its 1-methyl groups with hydrophobic residues lining the binding pocket. As is expected of a selective activator of RXRα, but not of RARs and PPARγ, this RXRα agonist, unlike DIM-Ph-4-CF3, does not appreciably decrease cancer cell growth or induce apoptosis at pharmacologically relevant concentrations.
doi:10.1002/cmdc.200800447
PMCID: PMC3031428  PMID: 19378296
antitumor agents; dimethylarenes; receptors; retinoids; RXR; TR3

Results 1-4 (4)