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Mol Endocrinol. 2004 Nov;18(11):2603-15. Epub 2004 Jul 29.

Inhibiting proteasomal proteolysis sustains estrogen receptor-alpha activation.

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Medical Sciences, Indiana University School of Medicine, 302 Jordan Hall, 1001 East 3rd Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-4401, USA.


Estrogen receptor-alpha (ER alpha) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that mediates physiological responses to 17 beta-estradiol (E2). Ligand binding rapidly down-regulates ER alpha levels through proteasomal proteolysis, but the functional impact of receptor degradation on cellular responses to E2 has not been fully established. In this study, we investigated the effect of blocking the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway on ER alpha-mediated transcriptional responses. In HeLa cells transfected with ER alpha, blocking either ubiquitination or proteasomal degradation markedly increased E2-induced expression of an ER-responsive reporter. Time course studies further demonstrated that blocking ligand-induced degradation of ER alpha resulted in prolonged stimulation of ER-responsive gene transcription. In breast cancer MCF7 cells containing endogenous ER alpha, proteasome inhibition enhanced E2-induced expression of endogenous pS2 and cathepsin D. However, inhibiting the proteasome decreased expression of progesterone receptor (PR), presumably due to the heterogeneity of the PR promoter, which contains multiple regulatory elements. In addition, in endometrial cancer Ishikawa cells overexpressing steroid receptor coactivator 1, 4-hydroxytamoxifen displayed full agonist activity and stimulated ER alpha-mediated transcription without inducing receptor degradation. Collectively, these results demonstrate that proteasomal degradation is not essential for ER alpha transcriptional activity and functions to limit E2-induced transcriptional output. The results further indicate that promoter context must be considered when evaluating the relationship between ER alpha transcription and proteasome inhibition. We suggest that the transcription of a gene driven predominantly by an estrogen-responsive element, such as pS2, is a more reliable indicator of ER alpha transcription activity than a gene like PR, which contains a complex promoter requiring cooperation between ER alpha and other transcription factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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