Assessment of NR4A Ligands That Directly Bind and Modulate the Orphan Nuclear Receptor Nurr1.
ABSTRACT: Nurr1/NR4A2 is an orphan nuclear receptor transcription factor implicated as a drug target for neurological disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Previous studies identified small-molecule NR4A nuclear receptor modulators, but it remains unclear if these ligands affect transcription via direct binding to Nurr1. We assessed 12 ligands reported to affect NR4A activity for Nurr1-dependent and Nurr1-independent transcriptional effects and the ability to bind the Nurr1 ligand-binding domain (LBD). Protein NMR structural footprinting data show that amodiaquine, chloroquine, and cytosporone B bind the Nurr1 LBD; ligands that do not bind include C-DIM12, celastrol, camptothecin, IP7e, isoalantolactone, ethyl 2-[2,3,4-trimethoxy-6-(1-octanoyl)phenyl]acetate (TMPA), and three high-throughput screening hit derivatives. Importantly, ligands that modulate Nurr1 transcription also show Nurr1-independent effects on transcription in a cell type-specific manner, indicating that care should be taken when interpreting the functional response of these ligands in transcriptional assays. These findings should help focus medicinal chemistry efforts that desire to optimize Nurr1-binding ligands.
Project description:Nurr1/NR4A2 is an orphan nuclear receptor, and currently there are no known natural ligands that bind Nurr1. A recent metabolomics study identified unsaturated fatty acids, including arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), that interact with the ligand-binding domain (LBD) of a related orphan receptor, Nur77/NR4A1. However, the binding location and whether these ligands bind other NR4A receptors were not defined. Here, we show that unsaturated fatty acids also interact with the Nurr1 LBD, and solution NMR spectroscopy reveals the binding epitope of DHA at its putative ligand-binding pocket. Biochemical assays reveal that DHA-bound Nurr1 interacts with high affinity with a peptide derived from PIAS?, a protein that interacts with Nurr1 in cellular extracts, and DHA also affects cellular Nurr1 transactivation. This work is the first structural report of a natural ligand binding to a canonical NR4A ligand-binding pocket and indicates a natural ligand can bind and affect Nurr1 function.
Project description:NR4A family orphan nuclear receptors are an important class of transcription factors for development and homeostasis of dopaminergic neurons that also inhibit expression of inflammatory genes in glial cells. The identification of NR4A2 (Nurr1) as a suppressor of nuclear factor ?B (NF-?B)-related neuroinflammatory genes in microglia and astrocytes suggests that this receptor could be a target for pharmacologic intervention in neurologic disease, but compounds that promote this activity are lacking. Selected diindolylmethane compounds (C-DIMs) have been shown to activate or inactivate nuclear receptors, including Nurr1, in cancer cells and also suppress astrocyte inflammatory signaling in vitro. Based upon these data, we postulated that C-DIM12 [1,1-bis(3'-indolyl)-1-(p-chlorophenyl) methane] would suppress inflammatory signaling in microglia by a Nurr1-dependent mechanism. C-DIM12 inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced expression of NF-?B-regulated genes in BV-2 microglia including nitric oxide synthase (NOS2), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), and the effects were attenuated by Nurr1-RNA interference. Additionally, C-DIM12 decreased NF-?B activation in NF-?B-GFP (green fluorescent protein) reporter cells and enhanced nuclear translocation of Nurr1 primary microglia. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays indicated that C-DIM12 decreased lipopolysaccharide-induced p65 binding to the NOS2 promoter and concurrently enhanced binding of Nurr1 to the p65-binding site. Consistent with these findings, C-DIM12 also stabilized binding of the Corepressor for Repressor Element 1 Silencing Transcription Factor (CoREST) and the Nuclear Receptor Corepressor 2 (NCOR2). Collectively, these data identify C-DIM12 as a modulator of Nurr1 activity that results in inhibition of NF-?B-dependent gene expression in glial cells by stabilizing nuclear corepressor proteins, which reduces binding of p65 to inflammatory gene promoters.
Project description:Age-associated cognitive impairments affect an individual's quality of life and are a growing problem in society. Therefore, therapeutic strategies to treat age-related cognitive decline are needed to enhance the quality of life among the elderly. Activation of the Nr4a family of transcription factors has been closely linked to memory formation and dysregulation of these transcription factors is thought to be associated with age-related cognitive decline. Previously, we have shown that Nr4a transcription can be activated by synthetic bisindole-derived compounds (C-DIM). C-DIM compounds enhance synaptic plasticity and long-term contextual fear memory in young healthy mice. In this study, we show that activation of Nr4a2 by 1,1-bis(3'-Indolyl)-1-(p-chlorophenyl) methane (C-DIM12), enhances long-term spatial memory in young mice and rescues memory deficits in aged mice. These findings suggest that C-DIM activators of Nr4a transcription may be suitable to prevent memory deficits associated with aging.
Project description:T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CAR T cells) targeting human CD19 (hCD19) have shown clinical efficacy against B cell malignancies1,2. CAR T cells have been less effective against solid tumours3-5, in part because they enter a hyporesponsive ('exhausted' or 'dysfunctional') state6-9 triggered by chronic antigen stimulation and characterized by upregulation of inhibitory receptors and loss of effector function. To investigate the function of CAR T cells in solid tumours, we transferred hCD19-reactive CAR T cells into hCD19+ tumour-bearing mice. CD8+CAR+ tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes and CD8+ endogenous tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes expressing the inhibitory receptors PD-1 and TIM3 exhibited similar profiles of gene expression and chromatin accessibility, associated with secondary activation of nuclear receptor transcription factors NR4A1 (also known as NUR77), NR4A2 (NURR1) and NR4A3 (NOR1) by the initiating transcription factor NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells)10-12. CD8+ T cells from humans with cancer or chronic viral infections13-15 expressed high levels of NR4A transcription factors and displayed enrichment of NR4A-binding motifs in accessible chromatin regions. CAR T cells lacking all three NR4A transcription factors (Nr4a triple knockout) promoted tumour regression and prolonged the survival of tumour-bearing mice. Nr4a triple knockout CAR tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes displayed phenotypes and gene expression profiles characteristic of CD8+ effector T cells, and chromatin regions uniquely accessible in Nr4a triple knockout CAR tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes compared to wild type were enriched for binding motifs for NF-?B and AP-1, transcription factors involved in activation of T cells. We identify NR4A transcription factors as having an important role in the cell-intrinsic program of T cell hyporesponsiveness and point to NR4A inhibition as a promising strategy for cancer immunotherapy.
Project description:The NR4A is a subfamily of the orphan nuclear receptors (NR) superfamily constituted by three well characterized members: Nur77 (NR4A1), Nurr1 (NR4A2) and Nor 1 (NR4A3). They are implicated in numerous biological processes as DNA repair, arteriosclerosis, cell apoptosis, carcinogenesis and metabolism. Several studies have demonstrated the role of this subfamily on glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity and energy balance. These studies have focused mainly in liver and skeletal muscle. However, its potential role in white adipose tissue (WAT), one of the most important tissues involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis, is not well-studied. The aim of this work was to elucidate the regulation of NR4A in WAT under different physiological and pathophysiological settings involved in energy balance such as fasting, postnatal development, gender, hormonal deficiency and pregnancy. We compared NR4A mRNA expression of Nur77, Nurr1 and Nor 1 and found a clear regulation by nutritional status, since the expression of the 3 isoforms is increased after fasting in a leptin-independent manner and sex steroid hormones also modulate NR4A expression in males and females. Our findings indicate that NR4A are regulated by different physiological and pathophysiological settings known to be associated with marked alterations in glucose metabolism and energy status.
Project description:We have previously reported that amodiaquine, a compound that binds to the ligand-binding domain of a nuclear receptor Nurr1, attenuates inflammatory responses and neurological deficits after intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in mice. 1,1-Bis(3'-indolyl)-1-(p-chlorophenyl)methane (C-DIM12) is another Nurr1 ligand that recognizes a domain of Nurr1 different from the ligand-binding domain. In the present study, mice were treated daily with C-DIM12 (50 or 100 mg/kg, p.o.) or amodiaquine (40 mg/kg, i.p.), or twice daily with 1400 W (20 mg/kg, i.p.), an inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibitor, from 3 h after ICH induction by microinjection of collagenase into the striatum. C-DIM12 improved the recovery of neurological function and prevented neuron loss in the hematoma, while suppressed activation of microglia/macrophages and expression of inflammatory mediators interleukin-6 and CC chemokine ligand 2. In addition, C-DIM12 as well as amodiaquine preserved axonal structures in the internal capsule and axonal transport function. We also found that C-DIM12 and amodiaquine suppressed the increases of iNOS mRNA expression after ICH. Moreover, 1400 W improved neurological function and prevented neuron loss, activation of microglia/macrophages and axonal transport dysfunction. These results suggest that suppression of iNOS induction contributes to several features of the therapeutic effects of Nurr1 ligands.
Project description:The orphan nuclear receptor Nurr1 (also called nuclear receptor-4A2) regulates inflammatory gene expression in glial cells, as well as genes associated with homeostatic and trophic function in dopaminergic neurons. Despite these known functions of Nurr1, an endogenous ligand has not been discovered. We postulated that the activation of Nurr1 would suppress the activation of glia and thereby protect against loss of dopamine (DA) neurons after subacute lesioning with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Our previous studies have shown that a synthetic Nurr1 ligand, 1,1-bis(3'-indolyl)-1-(p-chlorophenyl)methane (C-DIM12), suppresses inflammatory gene expression in primary astrocytes and induces a dopaminergic phenotype in neurons. Pharmacokinetic analysis of C-DIM12 in mice by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry demonstrated that approximately three times more compound concentrated in the brain than in plasma. Mice treated with four doses of MPTP + probenecid over 14 days were monitored for neurobehavioral function, loss of dopaminergic neurons, and glial activation. C-DIM12 protected against the loss of DA neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta and DA terminals in the striatum, maintained a ramified phenotype in microglia, and suppressed activation of astrocytes. In vitro reporter assays demonstrated that C-DIM12 was an effective activator of Nurr1 transcription in neuronal cell lines. Computational modeling of C-DIM12 binding to the three-dimensional structure of human Nurr1 identified a high-affinity binding interaction with Nurr1 at the coactivator domain. Taken together, these data suggest that C-DIM12 is an activator of Nurr1 that suppresses glial activation and neuronal loss in vivo after treatment with MPTP, and that this receptor could be an efficacious target for disease modification in individuals with Parkinson's disease and related disorders.
Project description:Degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with decreased expression of the orphan nuclear receptor Nurr1 (NR4A2), which is critical for both homeostasis and development of dopamine (DA) neurons. The synthetic, phytochemical-based compound, 1,1-bis (3'-indolyl)-1-(p-chlorophenyl) methane (C-DIM12) activates Nurr1 in cancer cells and prevents loss of dopaminergic neurons in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) model of PD in mice. In the present study, we examined the capacity of C-DIM12 to induce expression of Nurr1-regulated genes in two dopaminergic neuronal cell lines (N2A, N27) and to protect against 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) neurotoxicity. C-DIM12 induced expression of Nurr1-regulated genes that was abolished by Nurr1 knockdown. C-DIM12 increased expression of transfected human Nurr1, induced Nurr1 protein expression in primary dopaminergic neurons and enhanced neuronal survival from exposure to 6-OHDA. These data indicate that C-DIM12 stimulates neuroprotective expression Nurr1-regulated genes in DA neurons.
Project description:Nuclear receptor-related 1 protein (Nurr1/NR4A2) is an orphan nuclear receptor (NR) that is considered to function without a canonical ligand-binding pocket (LBP). A crystal structure of the Nurr1 ligand-binding domain (LBD) revealed no physical space in the conserved region where other NRs with solvent accessible apo-protein LBPs bind synthetic and natural ligands. Using solution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, and molecular dynamics simulations, we show that the putative canonical Nurr1 LBP is dynamic with high solvent accessibility, exchanges between two or more conformations on the microsecond-to-millisecond timescale, and can expand from the collapsed crystallized conformation to allow binding of unsaturated fatty acids. These findings should stimulate future studies to probe the ligandability and druggability of Nurr1 for both endogenous and synthetic ligands, which could lead to new therapeutics for Nurr1-related diseases, including Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.
Project description:The progression of rheumatoid arthritis involves the thickening of the synovial lining due to the proliferation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) and infiltration by inflammatory cells. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF?) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in progression of the disease. Under rheumatoid conditions, FLS express the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-recognition complex (TNFR1, TNFR2, VCAM-1 and ICAM-1), which induces local macrophage activation and leads to downstream nuclear factor ?B (NF-?B) signaling. The NF-?B-regulated inflammatory gene, cyclooxygenase (COX), increases synthesis of prostaglandins that contribute to the propagation of inflammatory damage within the joint. Because the nuclear orphan receptor, NR4A2 (Nurr1), can negatively regulate NF-?B-dependent inflammatory gene expression in macrophages, we postulated that activation of this receptor by the Nurr1 ligand 1,1-bis(3'-indolyl)-1-(p-chlorophenyl) methane (C-DIM12) would modulate inflammatory gene expression in synovial fibroblasts by inhibiting NF-?B. Treatment with C-DIM12 suppressed TNF?-induced expression of adhesion molecules and NF-?B regulated genes in primary synovial fibroblasts including vascular adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), PGE2 and COX-2. Immunofluorescence studies indicated that C-DIM12 did not prevent translocation of p65 and stabilized nuclear localization of Nurr1 in synovial fibroblasts. Knockdown of Nurr1 expression by RNA interference prevented the inhibitory effects of C-DIM12 on inflammatory gene expression, indicating that the anti-inflammatory effects of this compound are Nurr1-dependent. Collectively, these data suggest that this receptor may be a viable therapeutic target in RA.