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Event Title

PPAR alpha, Binding of antagonist

Key Event Overview

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AOPs Including This Key Event

AOP Name Event Type Essentiality
Antagonist binding to PPARalpha leading to starvation-like body-weight loss MIE Strong

Chemical Initiators

The following are chemical initiators that operate directly through this Event:

  1. GW6471

Taxonomic Applicability

Name Scientific Name Evidence Links
human Homo sapiens Strong NCBI
Saccharomyces cerevisiae Saccharomyces cerevisiae Strong NCBI

Level of Biological Organization

Biological Organization

How this Key Event works

Binding of molecules to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) can cause either agonistic or antagonistic signaling depending on molecular structure (Xu et al 2001, Xu et al 2002). Certain molecules that can bind to the PPARα ligand binding domain have been observed to cause conformational changes that induce increased affinity to co-repressors which decrease PPARα nuclear signaling (Xu et al 2002). Binding of co-repressors such as the silencing mediator for retinoid and thyroid hormone receptors (SMRT) and nuclear receptor co-repressor (N-CoR) to PPARα is reinforced by the antagonist, which blocks the AF-2 helix from adopting the active conformation, as demonstrated in x-ray crystallography results presented in Xu et al (2002). Thus, molecules that bind to PPARα that can enhance co-repressor binding act as PPARα antagonists.

How it is Measured or Detected

Methods that have been previously reviewed and approved by a recognized authority should be included in the Overview section above. All other methods, including those well established in the published literature, should be described here. Consider the following criteria when describing each method: 1. Is the assay fit for purpose? 2. Is the assay directly or indirectly (i.e. a surrogate) related to a key event relevant to the final adverse effect in question? 3. Is the assay repeatable? 4. Is the assay reproducible? In Xu et al (2002), X-ray crystallography was used to characterize the suppressed PPARα signaling complex (PPARα / GW6471 / SMRT) and was compared against the activated PPARα complex which included binding of PPARα with the agonist GW409544 and the co-activator, steroid receptor coactivator-1 (SRC-1). For simple PPARα binding assessment, competitive binding assays are availables, however these must be coupled with nuclear signaling activation / inhibition assays to determine if chemicals are agonists or antagonists.

Evidence Supporting Taxonomic Applicability

The fundamental mechanics for nuclear receptor binding as well as demonstration of co-repressor recruitment have been observed to be conserved when comparing humans and yeast (Nagy et al 1999). PPARα has been cloned from frogs, rats, guinea pigs, and humans where the DNA-binding domain has been shown to be identical across species, however the ligand binding domain has exhibited lower homology, likely adapted to differences in dietary ligands among species (Willson et al 2000). Overall, there is evidence for fairly conserved taxonomic applicability across vertebrates, though care should be given when extrapolating across species.


Nagy L, Kao H-Y, Love JD, Li C, Banayo E, Gooch JT, Krishna V, Chatterjee K, Evans RM, Schwabe JWR: Mechanism of corepressor binding and release from nuclear hormone receptors. Genes Dev 1999, 13(24):3209-3216.

Xu HE, Lambert MH, Montana VG, Plunket KD, Moore LB, Collins JL, Oplinger JA, Kliewer SA, Gampe RT, McKee DD et al: Structural determinants of ligand binding selectivity between the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2001, 98(24):13919-13924.

Willson TM, Brown PJ, Sternbach DD, Henke BR: The PPARs:  From Orphan Receptors to Drug Discovery. J Med Chem 2000, 43(4):527-550.

Xu HE, Stanley TB, Montana VG, Lambert MH, Shearer BG, Cobb JE, McKee DD, Galardi CM, Plunket KD, Nolte RT et al: Structural basis for antagonist-mediated recruitment of nuclear co-repressors by PPAR[alpha]. Nature 2002, 415(6873):813-817.