The nuclear orphan receptors for which endogenous ligands have not been identified include nuclear receptor (NR)0B1 (adrenal hypoplasia congenita critical region on chromosome X gene), NR0B2 (small heterodimer partner), NR1D1/2 (Rev-Erbα/β), NR2C1 (testicular receptor 2), NR2C2 (testicular receptor 4), NR2E1 (tailless), NR2E3 (photoreceptor-specific NR [PNR]), NR2F1 chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor 1 (COUP-TFI), NR2F2 (COUP-TFII), NR2F6 (v-erbA-related protein), NR4A1 (Nur77), NR4A2 (Nurr1), NR4A3 (Nor1), and NR6A1 (GCNF). These receptors play essential roles in development, cellular homeostasis, and disease including cancer where over- or underexpression of some receptors has prognostic significance for patient survival. Results of receptor knockdown or overexpression in vivo and in cancer cell lines demonstrate that orphan receptors exhibit tumor-specific pro-oncogenic or tumor suppressor-like activity. For example, COUP-TFII expression is both a positive (ovarian) and negative (prostate and breast) prognostic factor for cancer patients; in contrast, the prognostic activity of adrenal hypoplasia congenita critical region on chromosome X gene for the same tumors is the inverse of COUP-TFII. Functional studies show that Nur77 is tumor suppressor like in acute leukemia, whereas silencing Nur77 in pancreatic, colon, lung, lymphoma, melanoma, cervical, ovarian, gastric, and some breast cancer cell lines induces one or more of several responses including growth inhibition and decreased survival, migration, and invasion. Although endogenous ligands for the orphan receptors have not been identified, there is increasing evidence that different structural classes of compounds activate, inactivate, and directly bind several orphan receptors. Thus, the screening and development of selective orphan receptor modulators will have important clinical applications as novel mechanism-based agents for treating cancer patients overexpressing one or more orphan receptors and also for combined drug therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology