Mechanism-based common reactivity pattern (COREPA) modelling of aryl hydrocarbon receptor binding affinity

P. I. Petkov, J. C. Rowlands, R. Budinsky, B. Zhao, M. S. Denison, O. Mekenyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor is a ligand-activated transcription factor responsive to both natural and synthetic environmental compounds, with the most potent agonist being 2,3,7,8-tetrachlotrodibenzo-p-dioxin. The aim of this work was to develop a categorical COmmon REactivity PAttern (COREPA)-based structure-activity relationship model for predicting aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands within different binding ranges. The COREPA analysis suggested two different binding mechanisms called dioxin- and biphenyl-like, respectively. The dioxin-like model predicts a mechanism that requires a favourable interaction with a receptor nucleophilic site in the central part of the ligand and with electrophilic sites at both sides of the principal molecular axis, whereas the biphenyl-like model predicted a stacking-type interaction with the aryl hydrocarbon receptor allowing electron charge transfer from the receptor to the ligand. The current model was also adjusted to predict agonistic/antagonistic properties of chemicals. The mechanism of antagonistic properties was related to the possibility that these chemicals have a localized negative charge at the molecule's axis and ultimately bind with the receptor surface through the electron-donating properties of electron-rich groups. The categorization of chemicals as agonists/antagonists was found to correlate with their gene expression. The highest increase in gene expression was elicited by strong agonists, followed by weak agonists producing lower increases in gene expression, whereas all antagonists (and non-aryl hydrocarbon receptor binders) were found to have no effect on gene expression. However, this relationship was found to be quantitative for the chemicals populating the areas with extreme gene expression values only, leaving a wide fuzzy area where the quantitative relationship was unclear. The total concordance of the derived aryl hydrocarbon receptor binding categorical structure-activity relationship model was 82% whereas the Pearson's coefficient was 0.88.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-214
Number of pages28
JournalSAR and QSAR in Environmental Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Aryl hydrocarbon receptor
  • Gene expression
  • Modelling
  • SAR
  • TCDD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Bioengineering
  • Drug Discovery


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