Triaryl-substituted schiff bases are high-affinity subtype-selective ligands for the estrogen receptor

Zong Quan Liao, Chune Dong, Kathryn E. Carlson, Sathish Srinivasan, Jerome C. Nwachukwu, Robert W. Chesnut, Abhishek Sharma, Kendall W. Nettles, John A. Katzenellenbogen, Hai Bing Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have explored the isoelectronic replacement of the C=C double bond found at the core of many nonsteroidal estrogen ligands with a simple Schiff base (C=N). Di- and triaryl-substituted imine derivatives were conveniently prepared by the condensation of benzophenones with various anilines without the need for phenolic hydroxy protection. Most of these imines demonstrated high affinity for the estrogen receptors, which, in some cases exceeded that of estradiol. In cell-based assays, these imines profiled as ERα agonists but as ERβ antagonists, showing preferential reliance on the N-terminal activation function (AF1), which is more active in ERα. X-ray analysis revealed that the triaryl-imines distort the ligand-binding pocket in a new way: by controlling the separation of helices 3 and 11, which appears to alter the C-terminal AF2 surface that binds transcriptional coactivators. This work suggests that C=N for C=C substitution might be more widely considered as a general strategy for preparing drug analogues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3532-3545
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 24 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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