FLiN: Fluorescent Labels in Nuclear Receptors
Nuclear receptors are transcription factors that are important targets for current drug discovery efforts as they play a role in many pathological processes. Their activity can be regulated by small molecules like hormones and drugs that can have agonistic or antagonistic functions. These ligands bind to the receptor and account for diverse conformational changes that are crucial determinants for the receptor activity. Here, we set out to develop FLiN (fluorescent labels in nuclear receptors), a direct binding assay that detects conformational changes in the estrogen receptor. The assay is based on the introduction of a cysteine residue and subsequent specific labeling of the receptor with a thiol‐reactive fluorophore. Changes in the receptor conformation upon ligand binding lead to differences in the microenvironment of the fluorophore and alter its emission spectrum. The FLiN assay distinguishes between different binding modes and is suitable for high‐throughput screening.