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Vitamin A may play key role in sperm cell formation and development of central nervous system

September 11, 2017

Nuclear receptors activate genes in important biological processes in the human body. Orphan nuclear receptors are a group of nuclear receptors whose ligands, or the substance to which receptors bind, have not yet been identified, and whose physiological functions have not been very well investigated.

"Recent evidence has shown that orphan nuclear receptors are required for many essential physiological functions in the human body, and can be used to help discover drug targets for human diseases," said Zhou. "Additionally, the identification of ligands for nuclear receptors usually leads to the discovery of new types of therapeutic drugs for human diseases. A very successful example is PPARs (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors), whose ligands are used for the treatment of diabetes."

Dr. Zhou and his colleagues in VARI's Laboratory of Structural Sciences, under the direction of VARI Center for Structural Biology and Drug Discovery Director H. Eric Xu, Ph.D., used X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of TR4's ligand binding domain. They also identified small molecules involved in TR4 transcription - the synthesis of RNA using DNA as the blueprint - that could serve as potential drug targets.

Source: Van Andel Research Institute