XR5944: A potent inhibitor of estrogen receptors

Chandanamali Punchihewa, Adrian De Alba, Neil Sidell, Danzhou Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The anticancer drug XR5944 was originally developed as a topoisomerase inhibitor and was subsequently shown to be a transcription inhibitor. It has shown exceptional anticancer activity both in vitro and in vivo and was significantly more potent than traditional topoisomerase inhibitors. The solution structure of the XR5944/DNA complex recently obtained in our laboratory indicates that XR5944 bis-intercalates at the 5′-(TpG):(CpA) site of duplex DNA, which is found in the consensus DNA-binding site of estrogen receptor (ER). Thus, we tested the ability of XR5944 to inhibit ER activity both in vitro and in cultured cells. In electrophoretic mobility shift assays, it is seen that the DNA binding of recombinant ERα protein, as well as ER from nuclear extracts, is inhibited by XR5944 in a dose-dependent manner. In luciferase reporter assays, XR5944 inhibited the reporter gene expression from an estrogen response element-containing promoter but not from a basal promoter sequence that lacks any cis-acting elements. In contrast, the RNA polymerase inhibitor actinomycin D inhibits the transcription from both the above-mentioned promoters. The specificity of XR5944 activity is displayed by a separate reporter assay in which the transactivation of reporter gene expression by Sp1 proteins was not inhibited by XR5944. Collectively, these data suggest that XR5944 is capable of specifically inhibiting the binding of ER to its consensus DNA sequence and its subsequent activity. This represents a novel mechanism of ER inhibition, which may allow the development of agents capable of overcoming resistance to current antiestrogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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