Dr. Taner Kaya

Dr. Taner Kaya

Nuclear Receptors: The Environmental Health Perspective. Toxicological studies reveal that a number of chemical agents produced in bulk or could be classified as industry by-products, interfere with hormonal systems by binding to nuclear receptors and pose credible health risks, e.q. the widely known endocrine system disruption by estrogen receptor binding chemicals. The human exposure to such compounds is at high levels given the fact that they are wide spread environmental pollutants. Several nuclear receptors are known to interact with such pollutants, such as;

  • estrogen receptor
  • thyroid receptor
  • glucocorticoid receptor
  • retinoic acid receptor
  • PPARs

There is an ongoing effort to promptly identify such “hormone mimics” and be able to provide an up to date risk assessment on existing chemical compounds, based on latest data coming from toxicological and environmental research.

Part of our small molecule research at Structural Bioinformatics Lab is motivated by this idea through our collaboration with Dr. David J. Waxman at Biology Department of Boston University and focuses on binding and trans-activation of PPAR-γ by potential ligands among environmental chemicals, such as phthalates. This project is funded by NIEHS as part of the Superfund Basic Research Program.

My focus in the group is to model nuclear receptor ligand interactions by applying structural drug design tools, such as docking and homology modeling and study underlying principles of ligand induced transcriptional activation.