Estrogen-Like Effect of Mitotane Explained by Its Agonist Activity on Estrogen Receptor-α
Rossini E., Giacopuzzi E., Gangemi F., Tamburello M., Cosentini D., Abate A., Laganà M., Berruti A., Grisanti S., Sigala S.
Mitotane is the cornerstone of medical treatment of adrenocortical carcinoma. Estrogenic-like side effects frequently occur in patients, and previous studies explored the chemical nature of the interaction between estrogen receptor-α (ER-α) and toxic compounds, including the DDD derivatives. We used molecular docking and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to explore the possible interaction between mitotane and the ER-α receptor and the induced conformational changes. The ER-α expressing MCF-7 cells were exposed to mitotane with/without tamoxifen, and the cell viability/proliferation was evaluated by MTT assay and direct count. The transient ER-α silencing was performed using two ER-α siRNA (50 nM) and verified by Western blot. MDA-MB-231 cells were used as a negative control. Mitotane showed a similar docking configuration to 17β-estradiol and bisphenol A (BPA) and a significant binding affinity to ER-α. MD simulations showed that mitotane preserves the active conformation of ER-α more than both BPA and Bisphenol C, classifying it as an agonist. Exposure of MCF-7 cells to mitotane led to the concentration-dependent increase of cell viability and proliferation, which was reduced in the presence of tamoxifen and nullified by the transient ER-α knock-down. Integrating bioinformatics approaches with cell biology and pharmacological methods, we demonstrated that mitotane directly binds and activates ER-α.