Structural determinants of the agonist-independent association of human peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors with coactivators

J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 15;280(28):26543-56. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M502463200. Epub 2005 May 11.


Lipid homeostasis is controlled by various nuclear receptors (NRs), including the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARalpha, delta, and gamma), which sense lipid levels and regulate their metabolism. Here we demonstrate that human PPARs have a high basal activity and show ligand-independent coactivator (CoA) association comparable with the NR constitutive androstane receptor. Using PPARgamma as an example, we found that four different amino acid groups contribute to the ligand-independent stabilization of helix 12 of the PPAR ligand-binding domain. These are: (i) Lys329 and Glu499, mediating a charge clamp-type stabilization of helix 12 via a CoA bridge; (ii) Glu352, Arg425, and Tyr505, directly stabilizing the helix via salt bridges and hydrogen bonds; (iii) Lys347 and Asp503, interacting with each other as well as contacting the CoA; and (iv) His351, Tyr(355), His477, and Tyr501, forming a hydrogen bond network. These amino acids are highly conserved within the PPAR subfamily, suggesting that the same mechanism may apply for all three PPARs. Phylogenetic trees of helix 12 amino acid and nucleotide sequences of all crystallized NRs and all human NRs, respectively, indicated a close relationship of PPARs with constitutive androstane receptor and other constitutive active members of the NR superfamily. Taking together, the ligand-independent tight control of the position of the PPAR helix 12 provides an effective alternative for establishing an interaction with CoA proteins. This leads to high basal activity of PPARs and provides an additional view on PPAR signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Dimerization
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Ligands
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • PPAR alpha / chemistry*
  • PPAR delta / chemistry*
  • PPAR gamma / chemistry*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Transfection


  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Ligands
  • PPAR alpha
  • PPAR delta
  • PPAR gamma
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA
  • Luciferases
  • Glutathione Transferase