Identification of novel activators of constitutive androstane receptor from FDA-approved drugs by integrated computational and biological approaches.

Drug Repurposing


PURPOSE: The constitutive androstane receptor (CAR, NR1I3) is a xenobiotic sensor governing the transcription of numerous hepatic genes associated with drug metabolism and clearance. Recent evidence suggests that CAR also modulates energy homeostasis and cancer development. Thus, identification of novel human (h) CAR activators is of both clinical importance and scientific interest. METHODS: Docking and ligand-based structure-activity models were used for virtual screening of a database containing over 2000 FDA-approved drugs. Identified lead compounds were evaluated in cell-based reporter assays to determine hCAR activation. Potential activators were further tested in human primary hepatocytes (HPHs) for the expression of the prototypical hCAR target gene CYP2B6. RESULTS: Nineteen lead compounds with optimal modeling parameters were selected for biological evaluation. Seven of the 19 leads exhibited moderate to potent activation of hCAR. Five out of the seven compounds translocated hCAR from the cytoplasm to the nucleus of HPHs in a concentration-dependent manner. These compounds also induce the expression of CYP2B6 in HPHs with rank-order of efficacies closely resembling that of hCAR activation. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that our strategically integrated approaches are effective in the identification of novel hCAR modulators, which may function as valuable research tools or potential therapeutic molecules.


Lynch, Caitlin; Pan, Yongmei; Li, Linhao; Ferguson, Stephen S; Xia, Menghang; Swaan, Peter W; Wang, Hongbing;


  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases/ genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Computational Biology/ methods
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2B6
  • Databases, Pharmaceutical
  • Drug Discovery/ methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation/ drug effects
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Hepatocytes/ drug effects
  • Hepatocytes/ metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating/ genetics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations/ chemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Protein Transport/ drug effects
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear/ agonists
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear/ metabolism
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration

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