New aryl hydrocarbon receptor homology model targeted to improve docking reliability.
ABSTRACT The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-dependent, basic helix-loop-helix Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) containing transcription factor that can bind and be activated by structurally diverse chemicals, including the toxic environmental contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). As no experimentally determined structures of the AhR ligand binding domain (LBD) are available and previous homology models were only derived from apo template structures, we developed a new model based on holo X-ray structures of the hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α) PAS B domain, targeted to improve the accuracy of the binding site for molecular docking applications. We experimentally confirmed the ability of two HIF-2α crystallographic ligands to bind to the mAhR with relatively high affinity and demonstrated that they are AhR agonists, thus justifying the use of the holo HIF-2α structures as templates. A specific modeling/docking approach was proposed to predict the binding modes of AhR ligands in the modeled LBD. It was validated by comparison of the calculated and the experimental binding affinities of active THS ligands and TCDD for the mAhR and by functional activity analysis using several mAhR mutants generated on the basis of the modeling results. Finally the ability of the proposed approach to reproduce the different affinities of TCDD for AhRs of different species was confirmed, and a first test of its reliability in virtual screening is carried out by analyzing the correlation between the calculated and experimental binding affinities of a set of 14 PCDDs.
Article: Comparative Analysis of Homology Models of the Ah Receptor Ligand Binding Domain: Verification of Structure-Function Predictions by Site-Directed Mutagenesis of a Non-Functional AHR.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that mediates the biological and toxic effects of a wide variety of structurally diverse chemicals, including the toxic environmental contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). While significant interspecies differences in AHR ligand binding specificity, selectivity and response have been observed, the structural determinants responsible have not been determined and homology models of the AHR ligand-binding domain (LBD) are available for only a few species. Here we describe the development and comparative analysis of homology models of the LBD of sixteen AHRs from twelve mammalian and nonmammalian species and identify the specific residues contained within their ligand binding cavities. The ligand-binding cavity of the fish AHR exhibits differences from mammalian and avian AHRs, suggesting a slightly different TCDD binding mode. Comparison of the internal cavity in the LBD model of zebrafish (zf) AHR2, which binds TCDD with high affinity, to that of zfAHR1a, which does not bind TCDD, revealed that the latter has a dramatically shortened binding cavity due to the side chains of three residues (Tyr296, Thr386, His388) that reduce the internal space available to TCDD. Mutagenesis of two of these residues in zfAhR1a to those present in zfAHR2 (Y296H, T386A) restored the ability of zfAHR1a to bind TCDD and to exhibit TCDD-dependent binding to DNA. These results demonstrate the importance of these two amino acids and highlight the predictive potential of comparative analysis of homology models from diverse species. The availability of these AHR LBD homology models will facilitate in depth comparative studies of AHR ligand binding and ligand-dependent AHR activation and provide a novel avenue to examine species specific differences in AHR responsiveness.Biochemistry 01/2013; · 3.42 Impact Factor
Article: Specific Ligand Binding Domain Residues Confer Low Dioxin Responsiveness to AHR1β of Xenopus laevis.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a PAS-family protein that mediates the toxicity of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in vertebrates. Frogs are remarkably insensitive to TCDD, and AHRs from Xenopus laevis bind TCDD with low affinity. We sought to identify structural features of X. laevis AHR1β associated with low TCDD sensitivity. Substitution of the entire ligand-binding domain (LBD) with the corresponding sequence from mouse AHRb-1 dramatically increased TCDD responsiveness in transactivation assays. To identify amino acid residues responsible, we constructed a comparative model of the AHR1β LBD using homologous domains of PAS proteins HIF2α and ARNT. The model revealed an internal cavity of similar dimensions to the putative binding cavity of mouse AHRb-1, suggesting the importance of side-chain interactions over cavity size. Of residues with side chains clearly pointing into the cavity, only two differed from the mouse sequence. When A354, located within a conserved β-strand, was changed to serine, the corresponding mouse residue, the EC50 for TCDD decreased more than 15-fold. When N325 was changed to serine, EC50 declined 3-fold. When the mutations were combined, the EC50 declined from 18.6 nM to 0.8 nM, nearly matching mouse AHR for TCDD sensitivity. Velocity sedimentation analysis confirmed that mutant frog AHRs exhibited correspondingly increased TCDD binding. We also assayed mutant AHRs for responsiveness to a candidate endogenous ligand, 6-formylindolo[3,2b]carbazole (FICZ). Mutations that increased TCDD sensitivity also increased sensitivity to FICZ. This comparative study represents a novel approach to discerning fundamental information about the structure of AHR and its interactions with biologically important agonists.Biochemistry 02/2013; · 3.42 Impact Factor