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Small-molecule inhibitor targeting orphan nuclear receptor COUP-TFII for prostate cancer treatment

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Science Advances  29 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 18, eaaz8031
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz8031


The orphan nuclear receptor COUP-TFII is expressed at a low level in adult tissues, but its expression is increased and shown to promote progression of multiple diseases, including prostate cancer, heart failure, and muscular dystrophy. Suppression of COUP-TFII slows disease progression, making it an intriguing therapeutic target. Here, we identified a potent and specific COUP-TFII inhibitor through high-throughput screening. The inhibitor specifically suppressed COUP-TFII activity to regulate its target genes. Mechanistically, the inhibitor directly bound to the COUP-TFII ligand-binding domain and disrupted COUP-TFII interaction with transcription regulators, including FOXA1, thus repressing COUP-TFII activity on target gene regulation. Through blocking COUP-TFII’s oncogenic activity in prostate cancer, the inhibitor efficiently exerted a potent antitumor effect in xenograft mouse models and patient-derived xenograft models. Our study identified a potent and specific COUP-TFII inhibitor that may be useful for the treatment of prostate cancer and possibly other diseases.

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