Development of a new class of liver receptor homolog-1 (LRH-1) agonists by photoredox conjugate addition

Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2020 Aug 15;30(16):127293. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127293. Epub 2020 May 30.


LRH-1 is a nuclear receptor that regulates lipid metabolism and homeostasis, making it an attractive target for the treatment of diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Building on recent structural information about ligand binding from our labs, we have designed a series of new LRH-1 agonists that further engage LRH-1 through added polar interactions. While the current synthetic approach to this scaffold has, in large part, allowed for decoration of the agonist core, significant variation of the bridgehead substituent is mechanistically precluded. We have developed a new synthetic approach to overcome this limitation, identified that bridgehead substitution is necessary for LRH-1 activation, and described an alternative class of bridgehead substituents for effective LRH-1 agonist development. We determined the crystal structure of LRH-1 bound to a bridgehead-modified compound, revealing a promising opportunity to target novel regions of the ligand binding pocket to alter LRH-1 target gene expression.

Keywords: Agonist; LRH-1; Metabolic disease; Nuclear receptor; Photoredox.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Compounds / chemical synthesis
  • Aniline Compounds / chemistry
  • Aniline Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Development*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Photochemical Processes
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / agonists*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Aniline Compounds
  • NR5A2 protein, human
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear