Intercalation of XR5944 with the estrogen response element is modulated by the tri-nucleotide spacer sequence between half-sites

Neil Sidell, Raveendra I. Mathad, Feng Jue Shu, Zhenjiang Zhang, Caleb B. Kallen, Danzhou Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


DNA-intercalating molecules can impair DNA replication, DNA repair, and gene transcription. We previously demonstrated that XR5944, a DNA bis-intercalator, specifically blocks binding of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) to the consensus estrogen response element (ERE). The consensus ERE sequence is AGGTCAnnnTGACCT, where nnn is known as the tri-nucleotide spacer. Recent work has shown that the tri-nucleotide spacer can modulate ERα-ERE binding affinity and ligand-mediated transcriptional responses. To further understand the mechanism by which XR5944 inhibits ERα-ERE binding, we tested its ability to interact with consensus EREs with variable tri-nucleotide spacer sequences and with natural but non-consensus ERE sequences using one dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (1D 1H NMR) titration studies. We found that the tri-nucleotide spacer sequence significantly modulates the binding of XR5944 to EREs. Of the sequences that were tested, EREs with CGG and AGG spacers showed the best binding specificity with XR5944, while those spaced with TTT demonstrated the least specific binding. The binding stoichiometry of XR5944 with EREs was 2:1, which can explain why the spacer influences the drug-DNA interaction; each XR5944 spans four nucleotides (including portions of the spacer) when intercalating with DNA. To validate our NMR results, we conducted functional studies using reporter constructs containing consensus EREs with tri-nucleotide spacers CGG, CTG, and TTT. Results of reporter assays in MCF-7 cells indicated that XR5944 was significantly more potent in inhibiting the activity of CGG- than TTT-spaced EREs, consistent with our NMR results. Taken together, these findings predict that the anti-estrogenic effects of XR5944 will depend not only on ERE half-site composition but also on the tri-nucleotide spacer sequence of EREs located in the promoters of estrogen-responsive genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3-5
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Estrogen
  • Estrogen response element
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Tri-nucleotide spacer
  • XR5944

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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