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EMBO J. 2002 Jul 1;21(13):3443-53.

Formation of an hER alpha-COUP-TFI complex enhances hER alpha AF-1 through Ser118 phosphorylation by MAPK.

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  • 1Equipe d'Endocrinologie Moléculaire de la Reproduction, UMR CNRS 6026, Université de Rennes I, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France.


The enhancement of the human estrogen receptor alpha (hER alpha, NR3A1) activity by the orphan nuclear receptor COUP-TFI is found to depend on the establishment of a tight hER alpha-COUP-TFI complex. Formation of this complex seems to involve dynamic mechanisms different from those allowing hER alpha homodimerization. Although the hER alpha-COUP-TFI complex is present in all cells tested, the transcriptional cooperation between the two nuclear receptors is restricted to cell lines permissive to hER alpha activation function 1 (AF-1). In these cells, the physical interaction between COUP-TFI and hER alpha increases the affinity of hER alpha for ERK2/p42(MAPK), resulting in an enhanced phosphorylation state of the hER alpha Ser118. hER alpha thus acquires a strengthened AF-1 activity due to its hyperphosphorylation. These data indicate an alternative interaction process between nuclear receptors and demonstrate a novel protein intercommunication pathway that modulates hER alpha AF-1.

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