Estrogen receptor subtype-selective ligands: Asymmetric synthesis and biological evaluation of cis- and trans-5,11-dialkyl-5,6,11,12- tetrahydrochrysenes

Marvin J. Meyers, Sun Jun, Kathryn E. Carlson, Benita S. Katzenellenbogen, John A. Katzenellenbogen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have recently reported that racemic 5,11-cis-diethyl-5,6,11,12- tetrahydrochrysene-2,8-diol (THC, rac-2b) acts as an agonist on estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and as a complete antagonist on estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) (Sun et al. Endocrinology 1999, 140, 800-804). To further investigate this novel ER subtype-selective estrogenic activity, we have synthesized a series of cis- and trans-dialkyl THCs. cis-Dimethyl, -diethyl, and -dipropyl THCs 2a-c were prepared in a highly enantio- and diastereoselective manner by the acyloin condensation of enantiomerically pure α-alkyl-β-arylpropionic esters, followed by a Lewis acid-mediated double cyclization under conditions of minimal epimerization. ERα and ERβ binding affinity of both cis and trans isomers of dimethyl, diethyl, and dipropyl THCs was determined in competitive binding assays, and their transcriptional activity was determined in reporter gene assays in mammalian cells. Nearly all THCs examined were found to be affinity-selective for ERβ. All these THCS are agonists on ERα, and THCs with small substituents are agonists on both ERa and ERβ. As substituent size was increased, ERβ-selective antagonism developed first in the (R,R)-cis enantiomer series and finally in the trans diastereomer and (S,S)-cis enantiomer series. The most potent and selective ligand was identified as (R,R)-cis-diethyl THC 2b, which mimicked the ERβ-selective antagonist character of racemic cis-diethyl THC 2b. This study illustrates that the antagonist character in THC ligands for ERβ depends in a progressive way on the size and geometric disposition of substituent groups and suggests that the induction of an antagonist conformation in ERβ can be achieved with these ligands with less steric perturbation than in ERα. Furthermore, antagonists that are selectively effective on ERβ can have structures that are very different from the typical antiestrogens tamoxifen and raloxifene, which are antagonists on both ERα and ERβ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2456-2468
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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