Multiple mechanisms exist for endocrine disruption; one nonreceptor-mediated mechanism is via effects on aromatase, an enzyme critical for maintaining the normal in vivo balance of androgens and estrogens. We adapted the AroER tri-screen 96-well assay to 1536-well format to identify potential aromatase inhibitors (AIs) in the U.S. Tox21 10K compound library. In this assay, screening with compound alone identifies estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) agonists, screening in the presence of testosterone (T) identifies AIs and/or ERα antagonists, and screening in the presence of 17β-estradiol (E2) identifies ERα antagonists. Screening the Tox-21 library in the presence of T resulted in finding 302 potential AIs. These compounds, along with 31 known AI actives and inactives, were rescreened using all 3 assay formats. Of the 333 compounds tested, 113 (34%; 63 actives, 50 marginal actives) were considered to be potential AIs independent of cytotoxicity and ER antagonism activity. Structure-activity analysis suggested the presence of both conventional (eg, 1, 2, 4, - triazole class) and novel AI structures. Due to their novel structures, 14 of the 63 potential AI actives, including both drugs and fungicides, were selected for confirmation in the biochemical tritiated water-release aromatase assay. Ten compounds were active in the assay; the remaining 4 were only active in high-throughput screen assay, but with low efficacy. To further characterize these 10 novel AIs, we investigated their binding characteristics. The AroER tri-screen, in high-throughput format, accurately and efficiently identified chemicals in a large and diverse chemical library that selectively interact with aromatase.
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