4-Chloro-m-cresol (4-CmC) is a clinically relevant activator of the intracellular Ca2+ release channel, the ryanodine receptor isoform 1 (RyR1). In this study, the chemical moieties on the 4-CmC molecule required for its activation of RyR1 were determined using structure-activity relationship analysis with a set of commercially available 4-CmC analogs. Separate compounds each lacking one of the three functional groups of 4-CmC (1-hydroxyl, 3-methyl, or 4-chloro) were poor activators of RyR1. Substitution of different chemical groups for the 1-hydroxyl of 4-CmC resulted in compounds that were poor activators of RyR1, suggesting that the hydroxyl group is preferred at this position. Substitution of hydrophobic groups at the 3-position enhanced bioactivity of the compound relative to 4-CmC, whereas substitution with hydrophilic groups abolished bioactivity. Likewise, 4-CmC analogs with hydrophobic groups substituted into the 4-position enhanced bioactivity, whereas hydrophilic or charged groups diminished bioactivity. 4-CmC analogs containing a single hydrophobic group at either the 3- or 4-position as well as 3,5-disubstituted or 3,4,5-trisubstituted phenols were also effective activators of RyR1. These results indicate that the 1-hydroxyl group of 4-CmC is required for activation of RyR1 and that hydrophobic groups at the 3,4- and 5-positions are preferred. These findings suggest that the 4-CmC binding site on RyR1 most likely consists of a hydrophilic region to interact with the 1-hydroxyl as well as a hydrophobic region(s) to interact with chemical groups at the 3- and/or 4-positions of 4-CmC.
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