Article

Ligand-selective interdomain conformations of estrogen receptor-alpha

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States
Molecular Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.02). 02/2007; 21(1):49-61. DOI: 10.1210/me.2006-0075
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) inhibit estrogen activation of the estrogen receptor (ER) in some tissues but activate ER in other tissues. These tissue-selective actions suggest that SERMs may be identified with tissue specificities that would improve the safety of breast cancer and hormone replacement therapies. The identification of an improved SERM would be aided by understanding the effects of each SERM on the structure and interactions of ER. To date, the inability to obtain structures of the full-length ER has limited our structural characterization of SERM action to their antiestrogenic effects on the isolated ER ligand binding domain. We studied the effects of estradiol and the clinically useful SERMs 4-hydroxytamoxifen and fulvestrant on the conformation of the full-length ERalpha dimer complex by comparing, in living human breast cancer cells, the amounts of energy transfer between fluorophores attached to different domains of ERalpha. Estradiol, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, and fulvestrant all promoted the rapid formation of ERalpha dimers with equivalent interaction kinetics. The amino- and carboxyl-terminal ERalpha domains both contain activation functions differentially affected by these ligands, but the positions of only the carboxyl termini differed upon binding with estradiol, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, or fulvestrant. The association of a specific ERalpha dimer conformation with the binding of ligands of different clinical effect will assist the identification of a SERM with optimal tissue-selective estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities. These studies also provide a roadmap for dissecting important structural and kinetic details for any protein complex from the quantitative analysis of energy transfer.

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