A conserved lysine in the estrogen receptor DNA binding domain regulates ligand activation profiles at AP-1 sites, possibly by controlling interaction with a modulating repressor

Rosalie Maire Uht, Paul Webb, Phuong Nguyen, Richard H. Price, Cathleen Valentine, Helene Favre, Peter J. Kushner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background. Estrogen receptors alpha and beta (ERα and ERβ) differentially activate genes with AP-1 elements. ERα activates AP-1 targets via activation functions with estrogens (the AF-dependent pathway), whereas ERβ, and a short version of ERα (ERα DBD-LBD) activate only with anti-estrogens (AF-independent pathway). The DNA binding domain (DBD) plays an important role in both pathways, even though neither pathway requires ERE recognition. Results. Mutations of a highly conserved DBD lysine (ERα.K206A/G), lead to super-activation of AP-1 through activation function dependent pathways, up to 200 fold. This super-activity can be elicited either through ER AFs 1 or 2, or that of a heterologous activation function (VP16). The homologous substitution in ERβ, K170A, or in ERα DBD-LBD leads to estrogen-dependent AP-1 activation and loss of the usually potent anti-estrogen effects. Each of numerous K206 substitutions in ERα, except K206R, eliminates anti-estrogen activation and this loss correlates perfectly with a loss of ability to titrate a repressive function from the RU486 bound progesterone receptor. Conclusion. We conclude that ER DBDs contain a complex regulatory function that influences ligand activation profiles at AP-1. This function, which requires the integrity of the conserved lysine, both allows for activation at AP-1 with anti-estrogens (with ERβ and ERα DBD-LBD), and prevents ERα from becoming superactive at AP-1 with estrogens. We discuss the possibility that a repressor interaction with the DBD both mediates the AF-independent pathway and dampens the AF dependent pathway. Mutations in the conserved lysine might, by this model, disrupt the binding or function of the repressor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalNuclear Receptor
Volume2
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 May 2004

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