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Chem Res Toxicol. 2001 Mar;14(3):280-94.

Structure-activity relationships for a large diverse set of natural, synthetic, and environmental estrogens.

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R.O.W. Sciences, Inc., 3900 NCTR Road, MC 910, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079, USA.


Understanding structural requirements for a chemical to exhibit estrogen receptor (ER) binding has been important in various fields. This knowledge has been directly and indirectly applied to design drugs for human estrogen replacement therapy, and to identify estrogenic endocrine disruptors. This paper reports structure-activity relationships (SARs) based on a total of 230 chemicals, including both natural and xenoestrogens. Activities were generated using a validated ER competitive binding assay, which covers a 10(6)-fold range. This study is focused on identification of structural commonalities among diverse ER ligands. It provides an overall picture of how xenoestrogens structurally resemble endogenous 17beta-estradiol (E(2)) and the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES). On the basis of SAR analysis, five distinguishing criteria were found to be essential for xenoestrogen activity, using E(2) as a template: (1) H-bonding ability of the phenolic ring mimicking the 3-OH, (2) H-bond donor mimicking the17beta-OH and O-O distance between 3- and 17beta-OH, (3) precise steric hydrophobic centers mimicking steric 7alpha- and 11beta-substituents, (4) hydrophobicity, and (5) a ring structure. The 3-position H-bonding ability of phenols is a significant requirement for ER binding. This contributes as both a H-bond donor and acceptor, although predominantly as a donor. However, the 17beta-OH contributes as a H-bond donor only. The precise space (the size and orientation) of steric hydrophobic bulk groups is as important as a 17beta-OH. Where a direct comparison can be made, strong estrogens tend to be more hydrophobic. A rigid ring structure favors ER binding. The knowledge derived from this study is rationalized into a set of hierarchical rules that will be useful in guidance for identification of potential estrogens.

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