A novel class of retinoid antagonists and their mechanism of action

J Biol Chem. 1996 May 17;271(20):11897-903. doi: 10.1074/jbc.271.20.11897.


Retinoids regulate a broad range of biological processes through two subfamilies of nuclear retinoid receptors, the retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and the retinoid X receptors (RXRs). Recently, we reported a novel type of retinoic acid antagonist (SR11335) and showed that this compound can inhibit retinoic acid (RA)-induced activation of a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) promoter construct that contains a special RA response element (RARE). We have now further characterized the antagonism mediated by SR11335 and of newly synthesized structurally related compounds. Two compounds, SR11330 and SR11334, which are poor transactivators, also showed antagonist activities, inhibiting all-trans-RA (tRA) and 9-cis-RA. The retinoids inhibited transcriptional activation of RAR/RXR heterodimers effectively, while inhibition of RXR homodimers was less efficient. Inhibition was observed on several RAREs, including the TREpal, betaRARE, apoAI-RARE, and CRBPI-RARE. In addition, the antagonists inhibited tRA-induced differentiation of HL-60 cells. The antagonist did not interfere with DNA binding of the receptors. In limited proteolytic digestion assays, SR11335 induced resistance of the receptors to proteolysis, but the pattern of the degradation was not altered from that induced by tRA, suggesting that these antagonists induce their biological effects by competing with agonists for binding to RARs, thereby preventing the induction of conformational changes of the receptors necessary for transcriptional activation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • DNA / metabolism
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Retinoids / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Retinoids / pharmacology
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Trans-Activators / pharmacology


  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoids
  • Trans-Activators
  • DNA