Article

Single-chain estrogen receptors (ERs) reveal that the ERalpha/beta heterodimer emulates functions of the ERalpha dimer in genomic estrogen signaling pathways.

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Rochester School of Medicine, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester, NY 14642, USA.
Molecular and Cellular Biology (Impact Factor: 5.04). 10/2004; 24(17):7681-94. DOI: 10.1128/MCB.24.17.7681-7694.2004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The effects of estrogens, particularly 17beta-estradiol (E2), are mediated by estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and ERbeta. Upon binding to E2, ERs homo- and heterodimerize when coexpressed. The ER dimer then regulates the transcription of target genes through estrogen responsive element (ERE)-dependent and -independent pathways that constitute genomic estrogen signaling. Although ERalpha and ERbeta have similar ERE and E2 binding properties, they display different transregulatory capacities in both ERE-dependent and -independent signaling pathways. It is therefore likely that the heterodimerization provides novel functions to ERs by combining distinct properties of the contributing partners. The elucidation of the role of the ER heterodimer is critical for the understanding of physiology and pathophysiology of E2 signaling. However, differentially determining target gene responses during cosynthesis of ER subtypes is difficult, since dimers formed are a heterogeneous population of homo- and heterodimers. To circumvent the pivotal dimerization step in ER action and hence produce a homogeneous ER heterodimer population, we utilized a genetic fusion strategy. We joined the cDNAs of ERalpha and/or ERbeta to produce single-chain ERs to simulate the ER homo- and heterodimers. The fusion ERs interacted with ERE and E2 in a manner similar to that observed with the ER dimers. The homofusion receptors mimicked the functions of the parent ER dimers in the ERE-dependent and -independent pathways in transfected mammalian cells, whereas heterofusion receptors emulated the transregulatory properties of the ERalpha dimer. These results suggest that ERalpha is the functionally dominant partner in the ERalpha/beta heterodimer.

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