Estrogen-induced activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase in cerebral cortical explants: Convergence of estrogen and neurotrophin signaling pathways

Meharvan Singh, György Sétáló, Xiaoping Guan, Matthew Warren, C. Dominique Toran-Allerand

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We have shown that estrogen elicits a selective enhancement of the growth and differentiation of axons and dendrites (neurites) in the developing CNS. We subsequently demonstrated widespread colocalization of estrogen and neurotrophin receptors (trk) within developing forebrain neurons and reciprocal transcriptional regulation of these receptors by their ligands. Using organotypic explants of the cerebral cortex, we tested the hypothesis that estrogen/neurotrophin receptor coexpression also may result in convergence or cross-coupling of their signaling pathways. Estradiol elicited rapid (within 5-15 min) tyrosine phosphorylation/activation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, ERK1 and ERK2, that persisted for at least 2 hr. This extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) activation was inhibited successfully by the MEK1 inhibitor PD98059, but not by the estrogen receptor (ER) antagonist ICI 182,780, and did not appear to result from estradiol-induced activation of trk. Furthermore, we also found that estradiol elicited an increase in B-Raf kinase activity. The latter and subsequent downstream events leading to ERK activation may be a consequence of our documentation of a multimeric complex consisting of, at least, the ER, hsp90, and B-Raf. These novel findings provide an alternative mechanism for some of the estrogen actions in the developing CNS and could explain not only some of the very rapid effects of estrogen but also the ability of estrogen and neurotrophins to regulate the same broad array of cytoskeletal and growth-associated genes involved in neurite growth and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1188
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 1999



  • Brain
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Cross- coupling
  • ERK
  • Estradiol
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Neurotrophins
  • Signal transduction

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