Identification of novel inverse agonists of estrogen-related receptors ERRγ and ERRβ

Bioorg Med Chem. 2017 Mar 1;25(5):1585-1599. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2017.01.019. Epub 2017 Jan 16.


Estrogen-related receptors (ERRs, α, β, and γ) are orphan nuclear receptors most closely related in sequence to estrogen receptors (ERα and ERβ). Much attention has been paid recently to the functions of ERRs for their potential roles as new therapeutic targets implicated in the etiology of metabolic disorders. While no endogenous ligand has been identified for any of the ERR isoforms to date, the potential for using synthetic small molecules to modulate their activity has been demonstrated. In the present study, a series of novel inverse agonists of ERRγ and ERRβ were synthesized using regio- and stereo-specific direct substitution of triarylethylenes. These compounds were evaluated for their ability to modulate the activities of ERRs. The rational directed substitution approach and extensive SAR studies resulted in the discovery of compound 4a (DY40) as the most potent ERRγ inverse agonist described to date with mixed ERRγ/ERRβ functional activities, which potently suppressed the transcriptional functions of ERRγ with IC50=0.01μM in a cell-based reporter gene assay and antagonized ERRγ with a potency approximately 60 times greater than its analog Z-4-OHT (Z-4-hydroxytamoxifen). In addition, compound 3h (DY181) was identified as the most potent synthetic inverse agonist for the ERRβ that exhibited excellent selectivity over ERRα/γ in functional assays. This selectivity was also supported by computational docking models that suggest DY181 forms more extensive hydrogen bound network with ERRβ which should result in higher binding affinity on ERRβ over ERRγ.

Keywords: 17β-estradiol; Cell-based reporter gene assay; Estrogen-related receptors (ERRs, α, β, and γ); Type 2 Diabetes; Z-4-hydroxytamoxifen.

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Drug Inverse Agonism*
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, Estrogen / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • ESRRB protein, human
  • ESRRG protein, human
  • Receptors, Estrogen