Nuclear receptor, RORγt, is critical for the differentiation and proliferation of Th17 cells associated with several chronic autoimmune diseases.
Investigators report the discovery of a novel allosteric binding site on the nuclear receptor RORγt. Co-crystallization of the ligand binding domain (LBD) of RORγt with a series of small-molecule antagonists demonstrates occupancy of a previously unreported allosteric binding pocket.
Binding at this non-canonical site induces an unprecedented conformational reorientation of helix 12 in the RORγt LBD, which blocks cofactor binding. The functional consequence of this allosteric ligand-mediated conformation is inhibition of function as evidenced by both biochemical and cellular studies.
RORγt function is thus antagonized in a manner molecularly distinct from that of previously described orthosteric RORγt ligands.
This brings forward an approach to target RORγt for the treatment of Th17-mediated autoimmune diseases. The elucidation of an unprecedented modality of pharmacological antagonism establishes a mechanism for modulation of nuclear receptors.