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Ann Oncol. 2007 Jun;18 Suppl 6:vi81-5.

The estrogen receptor alpha:insulin receptor substrate 1 complex in breast cancer: structure-function relationships.

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  • 1Dipartimento Farmaco Biologico, University of Calabria, Arcavacata di Rende, Cosenza.



Insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1) is a signaling molecule that exerts a key role in mediating cross talk between estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in breast cancer cells. Previously, we demonstrated that a fraction of IRS-1 binds ERalpha, translocates to the nucleus, and modulates ERalpha-dependent transcription at estrogen response elements (ERE). Here, we studied structure-function relationships of the ERalpha:IRS-1 complex under IGF-1 and/or estradiol (E2) stimulation.


ERalpha and IRS-1 deletion mutants were used to analyze structural and functional ERalpha/IRS-1 interactions. IRS-1 binding to ERE and IRS-1 role in ERalpha-dependent ERE transcription was examined by chromatin immunoprecipitation and gene reporter analysis, respectively. The requirement for IRS-1 in ERalpha function was tested with RNAi technology.


Nuclear translocation of IRS-1 was induced by E2, IGF-1, and a combination of both stimuli. ERalpha/IRS-1 binding was direct and involved the activation function-1 (AF-1)/DNA binding domain (DBD) region of ERalpha and two discrete regions of IRS-1 (the N-terminal pleckstrin homology domain and a region within the C-terminus). IRS-1 knock down abrogated IGF-1-dependent transcriptional activity of unliganded ERalpha, but induced the activity of liganded ERalpha.


ERalpha/IRS-1 interactions are direct and involve the ERalpha AF-1/DBD domain and IRS-1 domains mapping within N- and C-terminus. IRS-1 may act as a repressor of liganded ERalpha and coactivator of unliganded ERalpha.

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