An estrogen receptor chimera senses ligands by nuclear translocation

Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD 20892-5055, USA.
The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Impact Factor: 3.63). 01/2006; 97(4):307-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2005.06.033
Source: PubMed


We have developed a new mammalian cell-based assay to screen for ligands of the estrogen receptor. A fluorescently tagged chimera between the glucocorticoid and the estrogen receptors, unlike the constitutively nuclear estrogen receptor, is cytoplasmic in the absence of hormone and translocates to the nucleus in response to estradiol. The chimera maintains specificity for estrogen receptor alpha ligands and does not show cross-reactivity with other steroids, providing a clean system for drug discovery. Natural and synthetic estrogen receptor alpha agonists as well as phytoestrogens effectively translocate the receptor to the nucleus in a dose-dependent manner. Antagonists of the estrogen receptor can also transmit the structural signals that result in receptor nuclear translocation. The potency and efficacy of high-affinity ligands can be evaluated in our system by measuring the nuclear translocation of the fluorescently labeled receptor in response to increasing ligand concentrations. The chimera is transcriptionally competent on transient and replicating templates, and is inhibited by estrogen receptor antagonists. Interestingly, the nucleoplasmic mobility of the chimera, determined by FRAP analysis, is faster than that of the wild type estrogen receptor, and the chimera is resistant to ICI immobilization. The translocation properties of this chimera can be utilized in high content screens for novel estrogen receptor modulators.

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Available from: Angie Dull
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    • "In addition to nuclear translocation assays, previous ERE-driven gene reporter studies have demonstrated that the GFP-GRER chimera induced transcription with ER agonist (estradiol, PPT, DES) treatment, and repressed transcription in response to cotreatment with estradiol and an ER antagonist (tamoxifen, ICI 182,780) [17], which occurs with native ER receptor. Furthermore, dose response experiments using high content assays will provide a glimpse of the toxicity profile of the hit compound, and we can determine the maximum tolerated dose in the 6020 cell line and the parental cell line. "
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    ABSTRACT: We have developed a robust high-content assay to screen for novel estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) agonists and antagonists by quantitation of cytoplasmic to nuclear translocation of an estrogen receptor chimera in 384-well plates. The screen utilizes a green fluorescent protein tagged-glucocorticoid/estrogen receptor (GFP-GRER) chimera which consisted of the N-terminus of the glucocorticoid receptor fused to the human ER ligand binding domain. The GFP-GRER exhibited cytoplasmic localization in the absence of ERα ligands, and translocated to the nucleus in response to stimulation with ERα agonists or antagonists. The BD Pathway 435 imaging system was used for image acquisition, analysis of translocation dynamics, and cytotoxicity measurements. The assay was validated with known ERα agonists and antagonists, and the Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds (LOPAC 1280). Additionally, screening of crude natural product extracts demonstrated the robustness of the assay, and the ability to quantitate the effects of toxicity on nuclear translocation dynamics. The GFP-GRER nuclear translocation assay was very robust, with z' values >0.7, CVs <5%, and has been validated with known ER ligands, and inclusion of cytotoxicity filters will facilitate screening of natural product extracts. This assay has been developed for future primary screening of synthetic, pure natural products, and natural product extracts libraries available at the National Cancer Institute at Frederick.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology
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    • "The SERMs and ER antagonists had either weak or no measurable effects on GRE-luc reporter activity in the presence of ERGR/GFP in MCF7 cells whereas all four SERMs caused marked stimulation of GRE-luc transcription in the two bone cell lines. Tamoxifen 10 − 5 M was previously found to stimulate GRE-luc activity in a NIH/3T3 murine fibroblast-derived cell line stably transfected with ERGR [13], which is considerably higher than the concentration of 10 − 8 M used here, whereas lower doses were without effect. Several lines of evidence support the fact that these findings represent an important feature of SERM-dependent stimulation of estrogenic pathways in osteoblasts. "
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    ABSTRACT: SERMs act as ER agonists in bone despite their antagonistic properties in other tissues. As well as inhibiting bone remodelling, this effect may involve stimulation of osteoblast activity, in light of evidence from recent in vivo studies. However, progress in exploring this action has been hampered by a lack of accurate in vitro models. For example, ER antagonists are reported to stimulate reporter assays based on estrogen target genes in osteoblasts, contrary to their inhibitory effects in vivo. We examined whether evaluating global aspects of ER function provides a more accurate reflection of ER activation in osteoblasts, based on the use of morphological and/or transcriptional read-outs with green fluorescent protein (GFP)-receptor chimeras. Osteoblast-like (ROS and U2OS) and breast cancer (MCF7) cells were transfected with a human ERalpha-GFP fusion protein, and treated with ER agonists (17beta-estradiol, and dienestrol), antagonists (ICI 182,780 and ZK 164015) and SERMs (tamoxifen, raloxifene, 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-HT) and hexestrol). We investigated cellular compartmentalisation of these constructs by fluorescence microscopy, nuclear mobility by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP), and global activation of estrogenic transcription using a ERE-luc reporter. SERMs caused a modest increase in ERE-luc activity in osteoblast-like cells (but not in breast cells), and a reduction in nuclear mobility in breast (but not osteoblast-like) cells. These studies were then repeated using a GFP chimera where the human GR ligand binding domain (LBD) was replaced by the human ERalpha LBD (ERGR-GFP), combined with a GRE-luc reporter. Interestingly, SERMs increased both cytoplasmic to nuclear translocation of ERGR-GFP, and GRE-luc reporter activity, in osteoblast-like (but not breast) cells. Indeed, transcriptional responses to SERMs in osteoblast-like cells were considerably greater with the ERGR/GRE-luc than the ERalpha/ERE-luc system, 4-HT inducing 300 and 25% increases in reporter activity respectively. ER antagonists were entirely without effect. We conclude that evaluation of global estrogenic activity, as opposed to activation of a specific target gene, provides a more accurate read-out for osteoblast stimulation. In particular, ERGR-mediated GRE-luc activity provides a high signal response to estrogen agonists and SERMs, in a cell context dependent manner closely resembling that observed in vivo. Further studies utilising this system are justified to explore the mechanistic basis for estrogenic stimulation of osteoblast activity, and to identify newer SERMs capable of targeting this activity.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Bone
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    • "In LDR cells, GFP is fused to a glucocorticoid estrogen receptor chimeric protein (GFP-GER) that is retained predominantly in the cytosol by the glucocorticoid receptor portion. However, upon estradiol binding to the ligand binding domain of the estrogen receptor portion, GFP-GER undergoes nuclear translocation [19]. The cytosol-to-nuclear translocation of GFP-GER provided an easy means to confirm that the fluorescence induced by active compounds in the LDR cells arose from the expression of the GFP-GER reporter. "
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    ABSTRACT: Epigenetic regulation of gene expression is essential in embryonic development and contributes to cancer pathology. We used a cell-based imaging assay that measures derepression of a silenced green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter to identify novel classes of compounds involved in epigenetic regulation. This locus derepression (LDR) assay was screened against a 69,137-member chemical library using quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS), a titration-response method that assays compounds at multiple concentrations. From structure-activity relationships of the 411 actives recovered from the qHTS, 6 distinct chemical series were chosen for further study. A total of 48 qHTS actives and analogs were counterscreened using the parental line of the LDR cells, which lack the GFP reporter. Three series-8-hydroxy quinoline, quinoline-8-thiol, and 1,3,5-thiadiazinane-2-thione-were not fluorescent and reconfirmed activity in the LDR cells. The three active series did not inhibit histone deacetylase activity in nuclear extracts or reactivate the expression of the densely methylated p16 gene in cancer cells. However, one series induced expression of the methylated CDH13 gene and inhibited the viability of several lung cancer lines at submicromolar concentrations. These results suggest that the identified small molecules act on epigenetic or transcriptional components and validate our approach of using a cell-based imaging assay in conjunction with qHTS.
    Full-text · Article · May 2008 · Analytical Biochemistry
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