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Mol Metab. 2018 Dec;18:68-78. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2018.09.006. Epub 2018 Sep 20.

N-terminal transactivation function, AF-1, of estrogen receptor alpha controls obesity through enhancement of energy expenditure.

Author information

1
Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA. Electronic address: araoy@niehs.nih.gov.
2
Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA.
3
Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA. Electronic address: korach@niehs.nih.gov.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Studies using the estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) knock-out (αERKO) mice have demonstrated that ERα plays a crucial role in various estrogen-mediated metabolic regulations. ERα is a ligand dependent transcription regulator and its activity is regulated by estrogenic compounds. ERα consists of two transcriptional activation domains, AF-1 and AF-2. The activities of these domains are regulated through different mechanisms; however, the specific physiological role in metabolic regulation by these domains is still unclear.

METHODS:

We utilized an ERα AF-2 mutant knock-in mouse (AF2ERKI) to evaluate the physiological functionality of ERα transactivation domains. Due to the estrogen insensitive AF-2 mutation, the phenotypes of AF2ERKI mice are seemingly identical to the global αERKO including obesity in the females. Distinct from the αERKO, the AF-1 function of AF2ERKI mice can be activated by tamoxifen (Tam). Ovariectomized (OVX) AF2ERKI and WT females were treated with Tam and fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 10 weeks. Additionally, indirect calorimetric analysis was performed using metabolic chambers with food intake and locomotor activity recorded for Tam-treated AF2ERKI and αERKO females.

RESULTS:

Obesity in HFD-fed AF2ERKI females was prevented by Tam treatment; particularly, inguinal fat accumulation was strongly blocked by Tam treatment. Alterations in fat metabolism genes, however, were not found in either inguinal fat nor visceral fat to be Tam-regulated, even though fat accumulation was strongly reduced by Tam treatment. Indirect calorimetric analysis revealed that without alteration of food intake and locomotor activity Tam treatment increased energy expenditure in AF2ERKI but not αERKO females.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that the activation of ERα AF-1 prevents fat accumulation. The prevention of obesity through AF-1 is mediated by induction of energy expenditure rather than ERα AF-1 functionality of lipid metabolism gene regulation in fat tissues.

KEYWORDS:

Domain functionality; Energy expenditure; Estrogen receptor alpha; Obesity; Subcutaneous fat; Tamoxifen; Visceral fat

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