Development and pharmacological evaluation of a new chemical series of potent pan-ERR agonists, identification of SLU-PP-915

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European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry


Estrogen-related receptors (ERR) are an orphan nuclear receptor sub-family that play a critical role in regulating gene transcription for several physiological processes including mitochondrial function, cellular energy utilization and homeostasis. They have also been implicated to play a role in several pathological conditions. Herein, we report the identification, synthesis, structure-activity relationships and pharmacological evaluation of a new chemical series of potent pan-ERR agonists. This template was designed for ERRγ starting from the known acyl hydrazide template and compounds such as agonist GSK-4716 employing a structure-based drug design approach. This led to the preparation of a series of 2,5-disubstituted thiophenes from which several were found to be potent agonists of ERRγ in cell-based co-transfection assays. Additionally, direct binding to ERRγ was established through 1H NMR protein-ligand binding experiments. Compound optimization revealed that the phenolic or aniline groups could be replaced with a boronic acid moiety, which was able to maintain activity and demonstrated improved metabolic stability in microsomal in vitro assays. Further pharmacological evaluation of these compounds showed that they had roughly equivalent agonist activity on ERR isoforms α and β representing an ERR pan-agonist profile. One potent agonist, SLU-PP-915 (10s), which contained a boronic acid moiety was profiled in gene expression assays and found to significantly upregulate the expression of ERR target genes such as peroxisome-proliferator activated receptor γ co-activators-1α, lactate dehydrogenase A, DNA damage inducible transcript 4 and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 both in vitro and in vivo.



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