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Mol Endocrinol. 2000 Nov;14(11):1849-71.

Function of N-terminal transactivation domain of the estrogen receptor requires a potential alpha-helical structure and is negatively regulated by the A domain.

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Equipe d'Endocrinologie Moléculaire de la Reproduction, UPRES-A CNRS 6026, Université de Rennes I, France.


Transcriptional activation by the estrogen receptor (NR3A1, or ER) requires specific ligand-inducible activation functions located in the amino (AF-1) and the carboxyl (AF-2 and AF-2a) regions of the protein. Although several detailed reports of ER structure and function describe mechanisms whereby AF-2 activates transcription, less precise data exist for AF-1. We recently reported that the rainbow trout and human estrogen receptors (rtERs and hERs, respectively), two evolutionary distant proteins, exhibit comparable AF-1 activities while sharing only 20% homology in their N-terminal region. These data suggested that the basic mechanisms whereby AF-1 and the ER N-terminal region activate transactivation might be evolutionary conserved. Therefore, a comparative approach between rtER and hER could provide more detailed information on AF-1 function. Transactivation analysis of truncated receptors and Gal4DBD (DNA binding domain of the Gal4 factor) fusion proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae defined a minimal region of 11 amino acids, located at the beginning of the B domain, necessary for AF-1 activity in rtER. Hydrophobic cluster analysis (HCA) indicated the presence of a potential alpha-helix within this minimal region that is conserved during evolution. Both rtER and hER sequences corresponding to this potential alpha-helical structure were able to induce transcription when fused to the Gal4DBD, indicating that this region can transactivate in an autonomous manner. Furthermore, point mutations in this 11-amino acid region of the receptors markedly reduced their transcriptional activity either within the context of a whole ER or a Gal4DBD fusion protein. Data were confirmed in mammalian cells and, interestingly, ERs with an inverted alpha-helix were as active as their corresponding wild-type proteins, indicating a conserved role in AF-1 for these structures. Moreover, using two naturally occurring rtER N-terminal variants possessing or not the A domain (rtER(L) and rtER(S), respectively), together with A domain-truncated hER and chimeric rtER/hER receptors, we demonstrated that the A domain of the ER plays an inhibitory role in ligand-independent activity of the receptor. In vitro and in vivo protein-protein interaction assays using both rtER and hER demonstrated that this repression is likely to be mediated by a ligand-sensitive direct interaction between the A domain and the C-terminal region of the ER.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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