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J Mol Biol. 2003 Feb 7;326(1):77-92.

Ligands differentially modulate the protein interactions of the human estrogen receptors alpha and beta.

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Centre de Biochimie Structurale, INSERM U554, CNRS UMR5048, 29, rue de Navacelles, 34090, Cedex, Montpellier, France.


The interactions of human estrogen receptor subtypes ERalpha and ERbeta with DNA and a 210 amino acid residue fragment of the coactivator protein SRC-1 bearing three nuclear receptor interaction motifs were investigated quantitatively using fluorescence anisotropy in the presence of agonist and antagonist ligands. ERalpha and ERbeta were found to bind in a similar manner to DNA, and both salt and temperature affected the affinity and/or stoichiometry of these interactions. The agonist ligands estradiol, estrone and estriol did not modify the binding of ERalpha to the fluorescein-labeled target estrogen response element. However, in the case of ERbeta, these ligands led to the formation of some higher-order protein-DNA complexes and a small decrease in affinity. The partial agonist 4-hydroxytamoxifen had little effect on either ER subtype, whereas the pure antagonist ICI 182,780 led to the cooperative formation of protein-DNA complexes of higher order than dimer, as further demonstrated by competition experiments and gel mobility-shift assays. In addition to DNA binding, the interaction of both ER subtypes with the Alexa488-labeled SRC-1 coactivator fragment was investigated by fluorescence anisotropy. The agonist ligands estrone, estradiol, estriol, genistein and ethynyl estradiol exhibited distinct capacities for inducing the recruitment of SRC-1 that were not correlated with their affinity for the receptor. Moreover, estrone and genistein exhibited subtype specificity in that they induced SRC-1 recruitment to ERbeta with much higher efficiency than in the case of ERalpha. The differential coactivator recruitment capacities of the ER agonists and their receptor subtype coactivator recruitment specificity may be linked to the molecular structure of the agonists with respect to their interactions with a specific histidine residue located at the back of the ligand-binding pocket. Altogether, these quantitative in vitro studies of ER interactions reveal the complex energetic and stoichiometric consequences of changes in the chemical structures of these proteins and their ligands.

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