Thyroid disruptions by xenobiotics have been associated with a broad spectrum of severe adverse human health effects, such as impaired brain development and metabolic syndrome. Ingestion of indoor dust and contact with industrial chemicals are two significant human exposure routes of thyroid hormone disrupting chemicals (THDCs), raising serious concerns for human health. However, it is a laborious and costly process to identify THDCs using conventional experimental methods, due to the number of chemicals in commerce and the varieties of potential disruption mechanisms.
In this thesis, we are aimed at in silico identification of novel THDCs targeting transthyretin (TTR) and thyroid hormone receptor (THR) among dust contaminants and commonly used industrial chemicals. In vitro assays were used to validate the in silico prediction results. Co-crystallization and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were applied to reveal binding modes of THDCs at the studied biological targets and to explain their intermolecular recognition.
The main findings presented in this thesis are:
1. Over 144 environmental pollutants have been confirmed as TTR-binders in vitro and these cover a wide range of environmental pollutants and show distinct chemical profiles including a large group of halogenated aromatic compounds and a second group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. (Paper I)
2. In total 485 organic contaminants have been reported to be detected in household dust. The developed QSAR classification model predicted 7.6% of these dust contaminants and 53.1% of their metabolites as potential TTR-binders, which emphasizes the importance of metabolic bioactivation. After in vitro validation, four novel TTR binders with IC50 ≤ 10 µM were identified, i.e. perfluoroheptanesulfonic acid, 2,4,2',4'-tetrahydroxybenzophenone (BP2), 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol. (Paper II)
3. The development of a robust structure-based virtual screening (VS) protocol resulted in the prediction of 31 dust contaminants as potential binders to THRβ1 including musk compounds, PFASs, and bisphenol A derivatives. The in vitro experiments confirmed four compounds as weak binders to THRβ1, i.e. 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, bisphenol A (3-chloro-2-hydroxypropyl) (2,3-dihydroxypropyl) ether, 2,4,2',4'-tetrahydroxybenzophenone, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. (Paper III)
4. We revealed the binding conformations of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, perfluorooctanoic acid, and BP2 in the thyroxine binding sites (TBSs) of TTR by co-crystallizing TTR with the three compounds. A VS protocol was developed based on the TTR complex structures that predicted 192 industrial chemicals as potential binders to TTR. Seven novel TTR binders were confirmed by in vitro experiments including clonixin, 2,6-dinitro-p-cresol (DNPC), triclopyr, fluroxypyr, bisphenol S, picloram, and mesotrione. We further co-crystallized TTR with PBS, clonixin, DNPC, and triclopyr, and their complex structures showed that the compounds bind in the TBSs as proposed by the VS protocol.
In summary, 13 indoor dust contaminants and industrial chemicals were identified as THDCs using a combination of in silico and in vitro approaches. To the best of our knowledge, none of these compounds has previously been reported to bind to TTR or THR. The identifications of these THDCs improve our understanding on the structure-activity relationships of THDCs. The crystal structures of TTR-THDC complexes and the information on THDC-Target intermolecular interactions provide a better understanding on the mechanism-of-actions behind thyroid disruption. The dataset compiled and in silico methods developed serve as a basis for identification of more diverse THDCs in the future and a tool for guiding de novo design of safer replacements.
Umeå: Umeå University , 2016. , 54 p.
Thyroid disruption chemicals, virtual screening, tranthyretin, thyroid hormone receptor, QSAR modeling, molecular docking, molecular dynamics
Andersson, Patrik, DocentSauer-Eriksson, A. Elisabeth, Professor