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J Neurosci. 2000 Mar 1;20(5):1694-700.

Estrogen-induced activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade in the cerebral cortex of estrogen receptor-alpha knock-out mice.

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Department of Anatomy, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior and Reproductive Sciences, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032, USA.


We have shown previously in the developing cerebral cortex that estrogen elicits the rapid and sustained activation of multiple signaling proteins within the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade, including B-Raf and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). Using estrogen receptor (ER)-alpha gene-disrupted (ERKO) mice, we addressed the role of ER-alpha in mediating this action of estrogen in the brain. 17beta-Estradiol increased B-Raf activity and MEK (MAP kinase/ERK kinase)-dependent ERK phosphorylation in cerebral cortical explants derived from both ERKO and their wild-type littermates. The ERK response was stronger in ERKO-derived cultures but, unlike that of wild-type cultures, was not blocked by the estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780. Surprisingly, both the ER-alpha selective ligand 16alpha-iodo-17beta-estradiol and the ER-beta selective ligand genistein failed to elicit ERK phosphorylation, suggesting that a different mechanism or receptor may mediate estrogen-induced ERK phosphorylation in the cerebral cortex. Interestingly, the transcriptionally inactive stereoisomer 17alpha-estradiol did elicit a strong induction of ERK phosphorylation, which, together with the inability of the ER-alpha- and ER-beta-selective ligands to elicit ERK phosphorylation, and of ICI 182,780 to block the actions of estradiol in ERKO cultures, supports the hypothesis that a novel, estradiol-sensitive and ICI-insensitive estrogen receptor may mediate 17beta-estradiol-induced activation of ERK in the brain.

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