Synthesis and biological evaluation of a novel series of furans: Ligands selective for estrogen receptor α

D. S. Mortensen, A. L. Rodriguez, K. E. Carlson, J. Sun, B. S. Katzenellenbogen, J. A. Katzenellenbogen

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A variety of nonsteroidal systems can function as ligands for the estrogen receptor (ER), in some cases showing selectivity for one of the two ER subtypes, ERα or ERβ. We have prepared a series of heterocycle-based (furans, thiophenes, and pyrroles) ligands for the estrogen receptor and assessed their behavior as ER ligands. An aldehyde enone conjugate addition approach and an enolate alkylation approach were developed to prepare the 1,4-dione systems that were precursors to the trisubstituted and tetrasubstituted systems, respectively. All of the diones were easily converted into the corresponding furans, but formation of the thiophenes and pyrroles from the more highly substituted 1,4-diones was problematical. Of the systems investigated, the tetrasubstituted furans proved to be most interesting. They were ERα bindingand potency-selective agents, with the triphenolic 3-alkyl-2,4,5-tris(4-hydroxyphenyl)furans (15a-d) displaying generally higher subtype binding selectivity than the bisphenolic analogues (15f-i). Binding selectivity for ERα was as high as 50-70-fold, and transcriptional activation studies showed that several members of this series were ERα selective agonists, with the best compound [3-ethyl-2,4,5-tris(4-hydroxyphenyl)furan, 15b] having full transcriptional activity on ERα while being inactive on ERβ. Comparative binding affinity analysis and molecular modeling were used to investigate the preferred binding mode adopted by the furan ligands, which appears to have the C(2) phenol mimicking the important role of the A-ring of estradiol. These ligands should be useful in studying the biological roles of both ERα and ERβ, and they might form the basis for the development of novel estrogen pharmaceuticals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3838-3848
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 8 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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