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J Biol Chem. 1996 Sep 13;271(37):22692-6.

Identification and functional separation of retinoic acid receptor neutral antagonists and inverse agonists.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Retinoid Research, Allergan Pharmaceuticals, Irvine, California 92715, USA.


Inverse agonists are ligands that are capable of repressing basal receptor activity in the absence of an agonist. We have designed a series of C-1-substituted acetylenic retinoids that exhibit potent antagonism of retinoic acid receptor (RAR)-mediated transactivation. Comparison of these related retinoid antagonists for their ability to repress basal RAR transcriptional activity demonstrates that the identity of the C-1 substituent differentiates these ligands into two groups: RAR inverse agonists and neutral antagonists. We show that treatment of cultured human keratinocytes with a RAR inverse agonist, but not a RAR neutral antagonist, leads to the repression of the serum-induced differentiation marker MRP-8. While RAR-selective agonists also repress expression of MRP-8, cotreatment with a RAR inverse agonist and a RAR agonist results in a mutual repression of their individual inhibitory activities, indicating the distinct modes of action of these two disparate retinoids in modulating MRP-8 expression. Our data indicate that RARs, like beta2-adrenoreceptors, are sensitive to inverse agonists and that this new class of retinoids will provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of RAR function in skin and other responsive tissues.

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