Structure-dependent activation of NR4A2 (Nurr1) by 1,1-bis(3′-indolyl)-1-(aromatic)methane analogs in pancreatic cancer cells


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Abstract

NR4A2 (Nurr1) is an orphan nuclear receptor with no known endogenous ligands and is highly expressed in many cancer cell lines including Panc1 and Panc28 pancreatic cancer cells. Structure-dependent activation of NR4A2 by a series of 1,1-bis(3′-indolyl)-1-(aromatic)methane (C-DIM) analogs was determined in pancreatic cancer cells transfected with yeast GAL4-Nurr1 chimeras and a UASx5-luc reporter gene or constructs containing response elements that bind NR4A2. Among 23 different structural analogs, phenyl groups containing p-substituted trifluoromethyl, t-butyl, cyano, bromo, iodo and trifluoromethoxy groups were the most active compounds in transactivation assay. The p-bromophenyl analog (DIM-C-pPhBr) was used as a model for structure–activity studies among a series of ortho-, meta- and para-bromophenyl isomers and the corresponding indole 2- and N-methyl analogs. Results show that NR4A2 activation was maximal with the p-bromophenyl analog and methylation of the indole NH group abrogated activity. Moreover, using GAL4-Nurr1 (full length) or GAL-Nurr1-A/B and GAL4-Nurr1-(C-F) chimeras expressing N- and C-terminal domains of Nurr1, respectively, DIM-C-pPhBr activated all three constructs and these responses were differentially affected by kinase inhibitors. DIM-C-pPhBr also modulated expression of several Nurr1-regulated genes in pancreatic cancer cells including vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), and the immunohistochemical and western blot analyses indicated that DIM-C-pPhBr activates nuclear NR4A2.

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