The novel genistein (G) derivative, 6-carboxymethyl genistein (CG) was evaluated for its biological properties in comparison with G. Both compounds showed oestrogenic activity in vitro and in vivo. On the other hand G and CG differed in the following parameters: (i) only CG displayed mixed agonist-antagonist activity for oestrogen receptor (ER) alpha in transactivation assays and (ii) only CG was capable of attenuating oestrogen (E(2))-induced proliferation in vascular smooth muscle cells and of inhibiting oestrogen-induced creatine kinase (CK) specific activity in rat tissues. On the other hand only G enhanced the stimulatory effect on CK specific activity in the uterus. In comparison to the selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) raloxifene (RAL), CG showed the same selectivity profile as RAL in blocking the CK response to E(2) in tissues derived from both immature and ovariectomized female rats. Molecular modelling of CG bound to the ligand binding domain (LBD) of ERbeta predicts that the 6-carboxymethyl group of CG almost fits the binding cavity. On the other hand, molecular modelling of CG bound to the LBD of ERalpha suggests that the carboxyl group of CG may perturb the end of Helix 11, eliciting a severe backbone change for Leu 525, and consequently induces a conformational change which could position Helix 12 in an antagonist conformation. This model supports the experimental findings that CG can act as a mixed agonist-antagonist when E(2) is bound to its receptors. Collectively, our findings suggest that CG can be considered a novel SERM with unique effects on the vasculature, bone and uterus.
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