2021 Volume 44 Issue 9 Pages 1210-1219
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are nuclear receptor-type transcription factors that consist of three subtypes (α, γ, and β/δ) with distinct functions and PPAR dual/pan agonists are expected to be the next generation of drugs for metabolic diseases. Saroglitazar is the first clinically approved PPARα/γ dual agonist for treatment of diabetic dyslipidemia and is currently in clinical trials to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); however, the structural information of its interaction with PPARα/γ remains unknown. We recently revealed the high-resolution co-crystal structure of saroglitazar and the PPARα–ligand binding domain (LBD) through X-ray crystallography, and in this study, we report the structure of saroglitazar and the PPARγ-LBD. Saroglitazar was located at the center of “Y”-shaped PPARγ-ligand-binding pocket (LBP), just as it was in the respective region of PPARα-LBP. Its carboxylic acid was attached to four amino acids (Ser289/His323/His449/Thr473), which contributes to the stabilization of Activating Function-2 helix 12, and its phenylpyrrole moiety was rotated 121.8 degrees in PPARγ-LBD from that in PPARα-LBD to interact with Phe264. PPARδ-LBD has the consensus four amino acids (Thr253/His287/His413/Tyr437) towards the carboxylic acids of its ligands, but it seems to lack sufficient space to accept saroglitazar because of the steric hindrance between the Trp228 or Arg248 residue of PPARδ-LBD and its methylthiophenyl moiety. Accordingly, in a coactivator recruitment assay, saroglitazar activated PPARα-LBD and PPARγ-LBD but not PPARδ-LBD, whereas glycine substitution of either Trp228, Arg248, or both of PPARδ-LBD conferred saroglitazar concentration-dependent activation. Our findings may be valuable in the molecular design of PPARα/γ dual or PPARα/γ/δ pan agonists.