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In Silico Identification and Experimental Validation of (−)-Muqubilin A, a Marine Norterpene Peroxide, as PPARα/γ-RXRα Agonist and RARα Positive Allosteric Modulator

  • d’aniello, enrico
  • iannotti, fabio arturo
  • falkenberg, lauren g.
  • martella, andrea
  • gentile, alessandra
  • de maio, fabrizia
  • ciavatta, maria letizia
  • gavagnin, margherita
  • waxman, joshua s.
  • di marzo, vincenzo
  • amodeo, pietro
  • vitale, rosa maria
Publication Date
Feb 12, 2019
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The nuclear receptors (NRs) RAR&alpha / , RXR&alpha / , PPAR&alpha / , and PPAR&gamma / represent promising pharmacological targets for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. In the search for molecules able to simultaneously target all the above-mentioned NRs, we screened an in-house developed molecular database using a ligand-based approach, identifying (&minus / )-Muqubilin (Muq), a cyclic peroxide norterpene from a marine sponge, as a potential hit. The ability of this compound to stably and effectively bind these NRs was assessed by molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations. Muq recapitulated all the main interactions of a canonical full agonist for RXR&alpha / and both PPAR&alpha / and PPAR&gamma / , whereas the binding mode toward RAR&alpha / showed peculiar features potentially impairing its activity as full agonist. Luciferase assays confirmed that Muq acts as a full agonist for RXR&alpha / , PPAR&alpha / , and PPAR&gamma / with an activity in the low- to sub-micromolar range. On the other hand, in the case of RAR, a very weak agonist activity was observed in the micromolar range. Quite surprisingly, we found that Muq is a positive allosteric modulator for RAR&alpha / , as both luciferase assays and in vivo analysis using a zebrafish transgenic retinoic acid (RA) reporter line showed that co-administration of Muq with RA produced a potent synergistic enhancement of RAR&alpha / activation and RA signaling.

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