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1.  Estrogen-related receptor β (ERRβ) – renaissance receptor or receptor renaissance? 
Estrogen-related receptors (ERRs) are founding members of the orphan nuclear receptor (ONR) subgroup of the nuclear receptor superfamily. Twenty-seven years of study have yet to identify cognate ligands for the ERRs, though they have firmly placed ERRα and ERRγ at the intersection of cellular metabolism and oncogenesis. The pace of discovery for novel functions of ERRβ, however, has until recently been somewhat slower than that of its family members. ERRβ has also been largely ignored in summaries and perspectives of the ONR literature. Here, we provide an overview of established and emerging knowledge of ERRβ in mouse, man, and other species, highlighting unique aspects of ERRβ biology that set it apart from the other two estrogen-related receptors, with a focus on the impact of alternative splicing on the structure and function of this receptor.
PMCID: PMC4978380  PMID: 27507929
ESRRB; ERRbeta; ERRβ; NR3B2; alternative splicing; orphan nuclear receptor
2.  Regulation of steroid hormone receptors and coregulators during the cell cycle highlights potential novel function in addition to roles as transcription factors 
Cell cycle progression is tightly controlled by several kinase families including Cyclin-Dependent Kinases, Polo-Like Kinases, and Aurora Kinases. A large amount of data show that steroid hormone receptors and various components of the cell cycle, including cell cycle regulated kinases, interact, and this often results in altered transcriptional activity of the receptor. Furthermore, steroid hormones, through their receptors, can also regulate the transcriptional expression of genes that are required for cell cycle regulation. However, emerging data suggest that steroid hormone receptors may have roles in cell cycle progression independent of their transcriptional activity. The following is a review of how steroid receptors and their coregulators can regulate or be regulated by the cell cycle machinery, with a particular focus on roles independent of transcription in G2/M.
PMCID: PMC4714463  PMID: 26778927
steroid hormone receptors; cell cycle; kinases; phosphorylation; mitosis; transcription-independent action
3.  Identification of potential glucocorticoid receptor therapeutic targets in multiple myeloma 
Glucocorticoids (GC) are a cornerstone of combination therapies for multiple myeloma. However, patients ultimately develop resistance to GCs frequently based on decreased glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression. An understanding of the direct targets of GC actions, which induce cell death, is expected to culminate in potential therapeutic strategies for inducing cell death by regulating downstream targets in the absence of a functional GR. The specific goal of our research is to identify primary GR targets that contribute to GC-induced cell death, with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapeutics around these targets that can be used to overcome resistance to GCs in the absence of GR. Using the MM.1S glucocorticoid-sensitive human myeloma cell line, we began with the broad platform of gene expression profiling to identify glucocorticoid-regulated genes further refined by combination treatment with phosphatidylinositol-3’-kinase inhibition (PI3Ki). To further refine the search to distinguish direct and indirect targets of GR that respond to the combination GC and PI3Ki treatment of MM.1S cells, we integrated 1) gene expression profiles of combination GC treatment with PI3Ki, which induces synergistic cell death; 2) negative correlation between genes inhibited by combination treatment in MM.1S cells and genes over-expressed in myeloma patients to establish clinical relevance and 3) GR chromatin immunoprecipitation with massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-Seq) in myeloma cells to identify global chromatin binding for the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Using established bioinformatics platforms, we have integrated these data sets to identify a subset of candidate genes that may form the basis for a comprehensive picture of glucocorticoid actions in multiple myeloma. As a proof of principle, we have verified two targets, namely RRM2 and BCL2L1, as primary functional targets of GR involved in GC-induced cell death.
PMCID: PMC4693629  PMID: 26715915
glucocorticoid receptor; multiple myeloma; ChIP-Seq; BCL2L1; RRM2
4.  Molecular targets of androgen signaling that characterize skeletal muscle recovery and regeneration 
The high regenerative capacity of adult skeletal muscle relies on a self-renewing depot of adult stem cells, termed muscle satellite cells (MSCs). Androgens, known mediators of overall body composition and specifically skeletal muscle mass, have been shown to regulate MSCs. The possible overlapping function of androgen regulation of muscle growth and MSC activation has not been carefully investigated with regards to muscle regeneration.Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine coinciding androgen-mediated genetic changes in an in vitro MSC model and clinically relevant in vivo models. A gene signature was established via microarray analysis for androgen-mediated MSC engagement and highlighted several markers including follistatin (FST), IGF-1, C-X-C chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR). In an in vivo muscle atrophy model, androgen re-supplementation significantly increased muscle size and expression of IGF-1, FST, and HGF, while significantly decreasing expression of GR. Biphasic gene expression profiles over the 7-day re-supplementation period identifed temporal androgen regulation of molecular targets involved in satellite cell engagement into myogenesis. In a muscle injury model, removal of androgens resulted in delayed muscle recovery and regeneration. Modifications in the androgen signaling gene signature, along with reduced Pax7 and MyoD expression, suggested that limited MSC activation and increased inflammation contributed to the delayed regeneration. However, enhanced MSC activation in the androgen-deplete mouse injury model was driven by an androgen receptor (AR) agonist. These results provide novel in vitro and in vivo evidence describing molecular targets of androgen signaling, while also increasing support for translational use of AR agonists in skeletal muscle recovery and regeneration.
PMCID: PMC4599140  PMID: 26457071
Androgen; Skeletal Muscle; Regeneration; Satellite Cells; Levator Ani
5.  Mechanisms of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ regulation by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) display anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic properties by inhibiting cyclooxygenases and blocking prostaglandin production. Previous studies, however, suggested that some NSAIDs also modulate peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs), raising the possibility that such off target effects contribute to the spectrum of clinically relevant NSAID actions. In this study, we set out to understand how peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPARγ/PPARG) interacts with NSAIDs using X-ray crystallography and to relate ligand binding modes to effects on receptor activity. We find that several NSAIDs (sulindac sulfide, diclofenac, indomethacin and ibuprofen) bind PPARγ and modulate PPARγ activity at pharmacologically relevant concentrations. Diclofenac acts as a partial agonist and binds to the PPARγ ligand binding pocket (LBP) in typical partial agonist mode, near the β-sheets and helix 3. By contrast, two copies of indomethacin and sulindac sulfide bind the LBP and, in aggregate, these ligands engage in LBP contacts that resemble agonists. Accordingly, both compounds, and ibuprofen, act as strong partial agonists. Assessment of NSAID activities in PPARγ-dependent 3T3-L1 cells reveals that NSAIDs display adipogenic activities and exclusively regulate PPARγ-dependent target genes in a manner that is consistent with their observed binding modes. Further, PPARγ knockdown eliminates indomethacin activities at selected endogenous genes, confirming receptor-dependence of observed effects. We propose that it is important to consider how individual NSAIDs interact with PPARγ to understand their activities, and that it will be interesting to determine whether high dose NSAID therapies result in PPAR activation.
PMCID: PMC4594550  PMID: 26445566
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; peroxisome proliferator activated receptors; X-ray structure; gene expression; 3T3-L1; partial agonist
6.  Transmembrane helices in “classical” nuclear reproductive steroid receptors: a perspective 
Abstract Steroid receptors of the nuclear receptor superfamily are proposed to be either: 1) located in the cytosol and moved to the cell nucleus upon activation, 2) tethered to the inside of the plasma membrane, or 3) retained in the nucleus until free steroid hormone enters and activates specific receptors. Using computational methods to analyze peptide receptor topology, we find that the “classical” nuclear receptors for progesterone (PRB/PGR), androgen (ARB/AR) and estrogen (ER1/ESR1) contain two transmembrane helices (TMH) within their ligand-binding domains (LBD).The MEMSAT-SVM algorithm indicates that ARB and ER2 (but not PRB or ER1) contain a pore-lining (channel-forming) region which may merge with other pore-lining regions to form a membrane channel. ER2 lacks a TMH, but contains a single pore-lining region. The MemBrain algorithm predicts that PRB, ARB and ER1 each contain one TMH plus a half TMH separated by 51 amino acids.ER2 contains two half helices. The TM-2 helices of ARB, ER1 and ER2 each contain 9-13 amino acid motifs reported to translocate the receptor to the plasma membrane, as well as cysteine palmitoylation sites. PoreWalker analysis of X-ray crystallographic data identifies a pore or channel within the LBDs of ARB and ER1 and predicts that 70 and 72 residues are pore-lining residues, respectively. The data suggest that (except for ER2), cytosolic receptors become anchored to the plasma membrane following synthesis. Half-helices and pore-lining regions in turn form functional ion channels and/or facilitate passive steroid uptake into the cell. In perspective, steroid-dependent insertion of “classical” receptors containing pore-lining regions into the plasma membrane may regulate permeability to ions such as Ca2+, Na+ or K+, as well as facilitate steroid translocation into the nucleus.
PMCID: PMC4590301  PMID: 26430393
steroids; membrane receptors; cytosol receptors; transmembrane helix; channels
7.  Integrative and systemic approaches for evaluating PPARβ/δ (PPARD) function 
The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are a group of nuclear receptors that function as transcription factors regulating the expression of genes involved in cellular differentiation, development, metabolism and also tumorigenesis. Three PPAR isotypes (α, β/δ and γ) have been identified, among which PPARβ/δ is the most difficult to functionally examine due to its tissue-specific diversity in cell fate determination, energy metabolism and housekeeping activities. PPARβ/δ acts both in a ligand-dependent and -independent manner. The specific type of regulation, activation or repression, is determined by many factors, among which the type of ligand, the presence/absence of PPARβ/δ-interacting corepressor or coactivator complexes and PPARβ/δ protein post-translational modifications play major roles. Recently, new global approaches to the study of nuclear receptors have made it possible to evaluate their molecular activity in a more systemic fashion, rather than deeply digging into a single pathway/function. This systemic approach is ideally suited for studying PPARβ/δ, due to its ubiquitous expression in various organs and its overlapping and tissue-specific transcriptomic signatures. The aim of the present review is to present in detail the diversity of PPARβ/δ function, focusing on the different information gained at the systemic level, and describing the global and unbiased approaches that combine a systems view with molecular understanding.
PMCID: PMC4419664  PMID: 25945080
PPARβ/δ; Systems Biology; nuclear receptor; ChIP
8.  Identification of chemical modulators of the constitutive activated receptor (CAR) in a gene expression compendium 
The nuclear receptor family member constitutive activated receptor (CAR) is activated by structurally diverse drugs and environmentally-relevant chemicals leading to transcriptional regulation of genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism and transport. Chronic activation of CAR increases liver cancer incidence in rodents, whereas suppression of CAR can lead to steatosis and insulin insensitivity. Here, analytical methods were developed to screen for chemical treatments in a gene expression compendium that lead to alteration of CAR activity. A gene expression biomarker signature of 83 CAR-dependent genes was identified using microarray profiles from the livers of wild-type and CAR-null mice after exposure to three structurally-diverse CAR activators (CITCO, phenobarbital, TCPOBOP). A rank-based algorithm (Running Fisher’s algorithm (p-value ≤ 10-4)) was used to evaluate the similarity between the CAR biomarker signature and a test set of 28 and 32 comparisons positive or negative, respectively, for CAR activation; the test resulted in a balanced accuracy of 97%. The biomarker signature was used to identify chemicals that activate or suppress CAR in an annotated mouse liver/primary hepatocyte gene expression database of ~1850 comparisons. CAR was activated by 1) activators of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in wild-type but not AhR-null mice, 2) pregnane X receptor (PXR) activators in wild-type and to lesser extents in PXR-null mice, and 3) activators of PPARα in wild-type and PPARα-null mice. CAR was consistently activated by five conazole fungicides and four perfluorinated compounds. Comparison of effects in wild-type and CAR-null mice showed that the fungicide propiconazole increased liver weight and hepatocyte proliferation in a CAR-dependent manner, whereas the perfluorinated compound perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) increased these endpoints in a CAR-independent manner. A number of compounds suppressed CAR coincident with increases in markers of inflammation including acetaminophen, concanavalin A, lipopolysaccharide, and 300 nm silica particles. In conclusion, we have shown that a CAR biomarker signature coupled with a rank-based similarity method accurately predicts CAR activation. This analytical approach, when applied to a gene expression compendium, increased the universe of known chemicals that directly or indirectly activate CAR, highlighting the promiscuous nature of CAR activation and signaling through activation of other xenobiotic-activated receptors.
PMCID: PMC4422105  PMID: 25949234
constitutive activated receptor; transcript profiling; liver cancer; metabolic syndrome; steatosis; conazoles; perfluorinated compounds; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; pregnane X receptor; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor
9.  Nuclear Receptor Signaling: a home for nuclear receptor and coregulator signaling research 
The field of nuclear receptor and coregulator signaling has grown into one of the most active and interdisciplinary in eukaryotic biology. Papers in this field are spread widely across a vast number of journals, which complicates the task of investigators in keeping current with the literature in the field. In 2003, we launched Nuclear Receptor Signaling as an Open Access reviews, perspectives and methods journal for the nuclear receptor signaling field. Building on its success and impact on the community, we have added primary research and dataset articles to this list of article categories, and we now announce the re-launch of the journal this month. Here we will summarize the rationale that informed the creation and expansion of the journal, and discuss the possibilities for its future development.
PMCID: PMC4303009  PMID: 25614732
10.  Control of steroid receptor dynamics and function by genomic actions of the cochaperones p23 and Bag-1L 
Molecular chaperones encompass a group of unrelated proteins that facilitate the correct assembly and disassembly of other macromolecular structures, which they themselves do not remain a part of. They associate with a large and diverse set of coregulators termed cochaperones that regulate their function and specificity. Amongst others, chaperones and cochaperones regulate the activity of several signaling molecules including steroid receptors, which upon ligand binding interact with discrete nucleotide sequences within the nucleus to control the expression of diverse physiological and developmental genes. Molecular chaperones and cochaperones are typically known to provide the correct conformation for ligand binding by the steroid receptors. While this contribution is widely accepted, recent studies have reported that they further modulate steroid receptor action outside ligand binding. They are thought to contribute to receptor turnover, transport of the receptor to different subcellular localizations, recycling of the receptor on chromatin and even stabilization of the DNA-binding properties of the receptor. In addition to these combined effects with molecular chaperones, cochaperones are reported to have additional functions that are independent of molecular chaperones. Some of these functions also impact on steroid receptor action. Two well-studied examples are the cochaperones p23 and Bag-1L, which have been identified as modulators of steroid receptor activity in nuclei. Understanding details of their regulatory action will provide new therapeutic opportunities of controlling steroid receptor action independent of the widespread effects of molecular chaperones.
PMCID: PMC4242288  PMID: 25422595
steroid receptors; nuclear receptors; chaperones; cellular transport
11.  Distinct, genome-wide, gene-specific selectivity patterns of four glucocorticoid receptor coregulators 
Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones that bind to and activate the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), which then positively or negatively regulates transcription of many genes that govern multiple important physiological pathways such as inflammation and metabolism of glucose, fat and bone. The remodeling of chromatin and regulated assembly or disassembly of active transcription complexes by GR and other DNA-binding transcription factors is mediated and modulated by several hundred transcriptional coregulator proteins. Previous studies focusing on single coregulators demonstrated that each coregulator is required for regulation of only a subset of all the genes regulated by a steroid hormone. We hypothesized that the gene-specific patterns of coregulators may correspond to specific physiological pathways such that different coregulators modulate the pathway-specificity of hormone action, thereby providing a mechanism for fine tuning of the hormone response. We tested this by direct comparison of multiple coregulators, using siRNA to deplete the products of four steroid hormone receptor coregulator genes (CCAR1, CCAR2, CALCOCO1 and ZNF282). Global analysis of glucocorticoid-regulated gene expression after siRNA mediated depletion of coregulators confirmed that each coregulator acted in a selective and gene-specific manner and demonstrated both positive and negative effects on glucocorticoid-regulated expression of different genes. We identified several classes of hormone-regulated genes based on the effects of coregulator depletion. Each coregulator supported hormonal regulation of some genes and opposed hormonal regulation of other genes (coregulator-modulated genes), blocked hormonal regulation of a second class of genes (coregulator-blocked genes), and had no effect on hormonal regulation of a third gene class (coregulator-independent genes). In spite of previously demonstrated physical and functional interactions among these four coregulators, the majority of the several hundred modulated and blocked genes for each of the four coregulators tested were unique to that coregulator. Finally, pathway analysis on coregulator-modulated genes supported the hypothesis that individual coregulators may regulate only a subset of the many physiological pathways controlled by glucocorticoids. We conclude that gene-specific actions of coregulators correspond to specific physiological pathways, suggesting that coregulators provide a potential mechanism for physiological fine tuning in vivo and may thus represent attractive targets for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC4242289  PMID: 25422592
coregulators; gene expression; microarray; glucocorticoid receptor; gene regulation
12.  A screening cascade to identify ERβ ligands 
The establishment of effective high throughput screening cascades to identify nuclear receptor (NR) ligands that will trigger defined, therapeutically useful sets of NR activities is of considerable importance. Repositioning of existing approved drugs with known side effect profiles can provide advantages because de novo drug design suffers from high developmental failure rates and undesirable side effects which have dramatically increased costs. Ligands that target estrogen receptor β (ERβ) could be useful in a variety of diseases ranging from cancer to neurological to cardiovascular disorders. In this context, it is important to minimize cross-reactivity with ERα, which has been shown to trigger increased rates of several types of cancer. Because of high sequence similarities between the ligand binding domains of ERα and ERβ, preferentially targeting one subtype can prove challenging. Here, we describe a sequential ligand screening approach comprised of complementary in-house assays to identify small molecules that are selective for ERβ. Methods include differential scanning fluorimetry, fluorescence polarization and a GAL4 transactivation assay. We used this strategy to screen several commercially-available chemical libraries, identifying thirty ERβ binders that were examined for their selectivity for ERβ versus ERα, and tested the effects of selected ligands in a prostate cancer cell proliferation assay. We suggest that this approach could be used to rapidly identify candidates for drug repurposing.
PMCID: PMC4242290  PMID: 25422593
Screening; gene expression; drugs; nuclear receptors; chemical libraries; gene regulation
13.  Inactivation of RARβ inhibits Wnt1-induced mammary tumorigenesis by suppressing epithelial-mesenchymal transition 
Retinoic acid receptor β (RARβ) has been proposed to act as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer. In contrast, recent data have shown that RARβ promotes ERBB2-induced mammary gland tumorigenesis through remodeling of the stromal compartment and activation of cancer-associated fibroblasts. However, it is currently unknown whether RARβ oncogenic activity is specific to ERBB2-induced tumors, or whether it influences the initiation and progression of other breast cancer subtypes. Accordingly, we set out to investigate the involvement of RARβ in basal-like breast cancer using mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)-wingless-related integration site 1 (Wnt1)-induced mammary gland tumorigenesis as a model system. We found that compared with wild type mice, inactivation of Rarb resulted in a lengthy delay in Wnt1-induced mammary gland tumorigenesis and in a significantly slower tumor growth rate. Ablation of Rarb altered the composition of the stroma, repressed the activation of cancer-associated fibroblasts, and reduced the recruitment of inflammatory cells and angiogenesis. Reduced expression of IGF-1 and activity of its downstream signaling pathway contribute to attenuate EMT in the Rarb-null tumors. Our results show that, in the absence of retinoid signaling via RARβ, reduced IGF-1 signaling results in suppression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and delays tumorigenesis induced by the Wnt1 oncogene. Accordingly, our work reinforces the concept that antagonizing RARβ-dependent retinoid signaling could provide a therapeutic avenue to treat poor outcome breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC4242291  PMID: 25422594
Breast cancer; IGF-1; nuclear receptor; oncogene; retinoid
14.  Transcriptomic analysis identifies gene networks regulated by estrogen receptor α (ERα) and ERβ that control distinct effects of different botanical estrogens 
The estrogen receptors (ERs) ERα and ERβ mediate the actions of endogenous estrogens as well as those of botanical estrogens (BEs) present in plants. BEs are ingested in the diet and also widely consumed by postmenopausal women as dietary supplements, often as a substitute for the loss of endogenous estrogens at menopause. However, their activities and efficacies, and similarities and differences in gene expression programs with respect to endogenous estrogens such as estradiol (E2) are not fully understood. Because gene expression patterns underlie and control the broad physiological effects of estrogens, we have investigated and compared the gene networks that are regulated by different BEs and by E2. Our aim was to determine if the soy and licorice BEs control similar or different gene expression programs and to compare their gene regulations with that of E2. Gene expression was examined by RNA-Seq in human breast cancer (MCF7) cells treated with control vehicle, BE or E2. These cells contained three different complements of ERs, ERα only, ERα+ERβ, or ERβ only, reflecting the different ratios of these two receptors in different human breast cancers and in different estrogen target cells. Using principal component, hierarchical clustering, and gene ontology and interactome analyses, we found that BEs regulated many of the same genes as did E2. The genes regulated by each BE, however, were somewhat different from one another, with some genes being regulated uniquely by each compound. The overlap with E2 in regulated genes was greatest for the soy isoflavones genistein and S-equol, while the greatest difference from E2 in gene expression pattern was observed for the licorice root BE liquiritigenin. The gene expression pattern of each ligand depended greatly on the cell background of ERs present. Despite similarities in gene expression pattern with E2, the BEs were generally less stimulatory of genes promoting proliferation and were more pro-apoptotic in their gene regulations than E2. The distinctive patterns of gene regulation by the individual BEs and E2 may underlie differences in the activities of these soy and licorice-derived BEs in estrogen target cells containing different levels of the two ERs.
PMCID: PMC4193135  PMID: 25363786
botanical estrogens; ERα; ERβ; gene regulatory networks; transcriptome; genistein; equol; liquiritigenin; soy; licorice
15.  Androgen receptor (AR) pathophysiological roles in androgen-related diseases in skin, bone/muscle, metabolic syndrome and neuron/immune systems: lessons learned from mice lacking AR in specific cells 
The androgen receptor (AR) is expressed ubiquitously and plays a variety of roles in a vast number of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Recent studies of AR knockout (ARKO) mouse models, particularly the cell type- or tissue-specific ARKO models, have uncovered many AR cell type- or tissue-specific pathophysiological roles in mice, which otherwise would not be delineated from conventional castration and androgen insensitivity syndrome studies. Thus, the AR in various specific cell types plays pivotal roles in production and maturation of immune cells, bone mineralization, and muscle growth. In metabolism, the ARs in brain, particularly in the hypothalamus, and the liver appear to participate in regulation of insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis. The AR also plays key roles in cutaneous wound healing and cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and abdominal aortic aneurysm. This article will discuss the results obtained from the total, cell type-, or tissue-specific ARKO models. The understanding of AR cell type- or tissue-specific physiological and pathophysiological roles using these in vivo mouse models will provide useful information in uncovering AR roles in humans and eventually help us to develop better therapies via targeting the AR or its downstream signaling molecules to combat androgen/AR-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC3960937  PMID: 24653668
16.  Post-translational modifications of nuclear receptors and human disease 
Nuclear receptors (NR) impact a myriad of physiological processes including homeostasis, reproduction, development, and metabolism. NRs are regulated by post-translational modifications (PTM) that markedly impact receptor function. Recent studies have identified NR PTMs that are involved in the onset and progression of human diseases, including cancer. The majority of evidence linking NR PTMs with disease has been demonstrated for phosphorylation, acetylation and sumoylation of androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptor α (ERα), glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ (PPARγ). Phosphorylation of AR has been associated with hormone refractory prostate cancer and decreased disease-specific survival. AR acetylation and sumoylation increased growth of prostate cancer tumor models. AR phosphorylation reduced the toxicity of the expanded polyglutamine AR in Kennedy’s Disease as a consequence of reduced ligand binding. A comprehensive evaluation of ERα phosphorylation in breast cancer revealed several sites associated with better clinical outcome to tamoxifen therapy, whereas other phosphorylation sites were associated with poorer clinical outcome. ERα acetylation and sumoylation may also have predictive value for breast cancer. GR phosphorylation and acetylation impact GR responsiveness to glucocorticoids that are used as anti-inflammatory drugs. PPARγ phosphorylation can regulate the balance between growth and differentiation in adipose tissue that is linked to obesity and insulin resistance. Sumoylation of PPARγ is linked to repression of inflammatory genes important in patients with inflammatory diseases. NR PTMs provide an additional measure of NR function that can be used as both biomarkers of disease progression, and predictive markers for patient response to NR-directed treatments.
PMCID: PMC3309075  PMID: 22438791
17.  Use of differential scanning fluorimetry as a high-throughput assay to identify nuclear receptor ligands  
Identification of ligands that interact with nuclear receptors is both a major biological problem and an important initial step in drug discovery. Several in vitro and in vivo techniques are commonly used to screen ligand candidates against nuclear receptors; however, none of the current assays allow screening without modification of either the protein and/or the ligand in a high-throughput fashion. Differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF) allows unmodified potential ligands to be screened as 10µL reactions in 96-well format against partially purified protein, revealing specific interactors. As a proof of principle, we used a commercially-available nuclear receptor ligand candidate chemical library to identify interactors of the human estrogen receptor α ligand binding domain (ERα LBD). Compounds that interact specifically with ERα LBD stabilize the protein and result in an elevation of the thermal denaturation point, as monitored by the environmentally-sensitive dye SYPRO orange. We successfully identified all three compounds in the library that have previously been identified to interact with ERα, with no false positive results.
PMCID: PMC3309076  PMID: 22438792
18.  EMBO Retinoids 2011: mechanisms, biology and pathology of signaling by retinoic acid and retinoic acid receptors 
Retinoic acid (RA) is one of the principal active metabolites of vitamin A (retinol) which mediates a spectrum of critical physiological and developmental processes. Transcriptional regulation by RA is mediated primarily by members of the retinoic acid receptor (RAR) subfamily of the nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily of transcription factors. NRs bind specific genomic DNA sequence motifs and engage coregulators and components of the basal transcription machinery to effect transcriptional regulation at target gene promoters. Disruption of signaling by retinoic acid is thought to underlie the etiology of a number of inflammatory and neoplastic diseases including breast cancer and haematological malignancies. A meeting of international researchers in retinoid signaling was convened in Strasbourg in September 2011 under the auspices of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). Retinoids 2011 encompassed myriad mechanistic, biological and pathological aspects of these hormones and their cognate receptors, as well as setting these advances in the context of wider current questions on signaling by members of the NR superfamily.
PMCID: PMC3309077  PMID: 22438793
19.  Mutual information identifies sequence positions conserved within the nuclear receptor superfamily: approach reveals functionally important regions for DNA binding specificity  
Members of the nuclear receptor superfamily differentiate in terms of specificity for DNA recognition and binding, oligomeric state, and ligand binding. The wide range of specificities are impressive given the high degree of sequence conservation in the DNA binding domain (DBD) and moderate sequence conservation with high structural similarity within the ligand binding domains (LBDs). Determining sequence positions that are conserved within nuclear receptor subfamilies can provide important indicators into the structural dynamics that translate to oligomeric state of the active receptor, DNA binding specificity and ligand affinity and selectivity. Here we present a method to analyze sequence data from all nuclear receptors that facilitates detection of co-evolving pairs using Mutual Information (MI). Using this method we demonstrate that MI can reveal functionally important sequence positions within the superfamily and the approach identified three sequence positions that have conserved sequence patterns across all nuclear receptors and subfamilies. Interestingly, two of the sequence positions identified are located within the DBD CII and the third was within Helix c of the DBD. These sequences are located within the heterodimer interface of PPARγ (CII) and RXRα (Helix c) based on PDB:3DZU. Helix c of PPARγ, which is not involved in the DBD dimer interface, binds the minor groove in the 5' flanking region in a consensus PPARγ response element (PPRE) and the corresponding RXRα (CII) is found in the 3' flanking region of RXRE (3DZU). As these three sequence positions represent unique identifiers for all nuclear receptors and they are located within the dimer interface of PPARγ-RXRα DBD (3DZU) interfacing with the flanking regions of the NRRE, we conclude they are critical sequence positions perhaps dictating nuclear receptor (NR) DNA binding specificity.
PMCID: PMC3049237  PMID: 21383938
20.  Deciphering the nuclear bile acid receptor FXR paradigm 
Originally called retinoid X receptor interacting protein 14 (RIP14), the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) was renamed after the ability of its rat form to bind supra-physiological concentrations of farnesol. In 1999 FXR was de-orphanized since primary bile acids were identified as natural ligands. Strongly expressed in the liver and intestine, FXR has been shown to be the master transcriptional regulator of several entero-hepatic metabolic pathways with relevance to the pathophysiology of conditions such as cholestasis, fatty liver disease, cholesterol gallstone disease, intestinal inflammation and tumors. Furthermore, given the importance of FXR in the gut-liver axis feedbacks regulating lipid and glucose homeostasis, FXR modulation appears to have great input in diseases such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Exciting results from several cellular and animal models have provided the impetus to develop synthetic FXR ligands as novel pharmacological agents. Fourteen years from its discovery, FXR has gone from bench to bedside; a novel nuclear receptor ligand is going into clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3049226  PMID: 21383957
21.  Nuclear receptor Rev-erbα: a heme receptor that coordinates circadian rhythm and metabolism  
Nuclear receptor Rev-erbα (NR1D1), previously considered to be an orphan nuclear receptor, is a receptor for heme, which promotes transcriptional repression via recruitment of the NCoR-HDAC3 corepressor complex. Rev-erbα gene regulation is circadian, and Rev-erbα comprises a critical negative limb of the core circadian clock by directly repressing the expression of the positive clock component, Bmal1. Rev-erbα also regulates the metabolic gene pathway, thus serving as a heme sensor for coordination of circadian and metabolic pathways.
PMCID: PMC2858265  PMID: 20414452
22.  PPARα: energy combustion, hypolipidemia, inflammation and cancer  
The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα, or NR1C1) is a nuclear hormone receptor activated by a structurally diverse array of synthetic chemicals known as peroxisome proliferators. Endogenous activation of PPARα in liver has also been observed in certain gene knockout mouse models of lipid metabolism, implying the existence of enzymes that either generate (synthesize) or degrade endogenous PPARα agonists. For example, substrates involved in fatty acid oxidation can function as PPARα ligands. PPARα serves as a xenobiotic and lipid sensor to regulate energy combustion, hepatic steatosis, lipoprotein synthesis, inflammation and liver cancer. Mainly, PPARα modulates the activities of all three fatty acid oxidation systems, namely mitochondrial and peroxisomal β-oxidation and microsomal ω-oxidation, and thus plays a key role in energy expenditure. Sustained activation of PPARα by either exogenous or endogenous agonists leads to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma resulting from sustained oxidative and possibly endoplasmic reticulum stress and liver cell proliferation. PPARα requires transcription coactivator PPAR-binding protein (PBP)/mediator subunit 1(MED1) for its transcriptional activity.
PMCID: PMC2858266  PMID: 20414453
23.  DamIP: A novel method to identify DNA binding sites in vivo  
Identifying binding sites and target genes of transcription factors is a major biologic problem. The most commonly used current technique, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), is dependent on a high quality antibody for each protein of interest, which is not always available, and is also cumbersome, involving sequential cross-linking and reversal of cross-linking. We have developed a novel strategy to study protein DNA binding sites in vivo, which we term DamIP. By tethering a mutant form of E. coli DNA adenine methyltransferase to the target protein, the fusion protein introduces N-6-adenosine methylation to sequences proximal to the protein binding sites. DNA fragments with this modification, which is absent in eukaryotes, are detected using an antibody directed against methylated adenosine. For an initial test of the method we used human estrogen receptor α (hERα), one of the best studied transcription factors. We found that expression of Dam-hERα fusion proteins in MCF-7 cells introduces adenosine methylation near a series of known direct hERα binding sites. Specific methylation tags are also found at indirect hERα binding sites, including both primary binding sites for the ER interactors AP-1 and SP1, and promoters that are activated by upstream ER bound enhancers. DamIP provides a new tool for the study of DNA interacting protein function in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2858267  PMID: 20419059
24.  PPARγ1 and LXRα face a new regulator of macrophage cholesterol homeostasis and inflammatory responsiveness, AEBP1 
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ1 (PPARγ1) and liver X receptor α (LXRα) are nuclear receptors that play pivotal roles in macrophage cholesterol homeostasis and inflammation; key biological processes in atherogenesis. The activation of PPARγ1 and LXRα by natural or synthetic ligands results in the transactivation of ABCA1, ABCG1, and ApoE; integral players in cholesterol efflux and reverse cholesterol transport. In this review, we describe the structure, isoforms, expression pattern, and functional specificity of PPARs and LXRs. Control of PPARs and LXRs transcriptional activity by coactivators and corepressors is also highlighted. The specific roles that PPARγ1 and LXRα play in inducing macrophage cholesterol efflux mediators and antagonizing macrophage inflammatory responsiveness are summarized. Finally, this review focuses on the recently reported regulatory functions that adipocyte enhancer-binding protein 1 (AEBP1) exerts on PPARγ1 and LXRα transcriptional activity in the context of macrophage cholesterol homeostasis and inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2858268  PMID: 20419060
25.  Control of oocyte release by progesterone receptor-regulated gene expression  
The progesterone receptor (PGR) is a nuclear receptor transcription factor that is essential for female fertility, in part due to its control of oocyte release from the ovary, or ovulation. In all mammals studied to date, ovarian expression of PGR is restricted primarily to granulosa cells of follicles destined to ovulate. Granulosa cell expression of PGR is induced by the pituitary Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surge via mechanisms that are not entirely understood, but which involve activation of Protein Kinase A and modification of Sp1/Sp3 transcription factors on the PGR promoter. Null mutations for PGR or treatment with PGR antagonists block ovulation in all species analyzed, including humans. The cellular mechanisms by which PGR regulates ovulation are currently under investigation, with several downstream pathways having been identified as PGR-regulated and potentially involved in follicular rupture. Interestingly, none of these PGR-regulated genes has been demonstrated to be a direct transcriptional target of PGR. Rather, in ovarian granulosa cells, PGR may act as an inducible coregulator for constitutively bound Sp1/Sp3 transcription factors, which are key regulators for a discrete cohort of ovulatory genes.
PMCID: PMC2807638  PMID: 20087433

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