Analysis of estrogen receptor transcriptional enhancement by a nuclear hormone receptor coactivator

Eileen M. Mcinerney, Ming Jer Tsai, Bert W. O'Malley, Benita S. Katzenellenbogen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The estrogen receptor (ER), a member of a large superfamily of nuclear hormone receptors, is a ligand-inducible transcription factor that regulates the expression of estrogen-responsive genes. The ER, in common with other members of this superfamily, contains two transcription activation functions (AFs)-one located in the amino-terminal region (AF-1) and the second located in the carboxyl-terminal region (AF-2). In most cell contexts, the synergistic activity of AF-1 and AF-2 is required for full estradiol (E2)- stimulated activity. We have previously shown that a ligand-dependent interaction between the two AF-containing regions of ER was promoted by E2 and the antiestrogen trans-hydroxytamoxifen (TOT). This interaction, however, was transcriptionally productive only in the presence of E2. To explore a possible role of steroid receptor coactivators in transcriptional synergism between AF-1 and AF-2, we expressed the amino terminal (AF-1-containing) and carboxyl-terminal (AF-2-containing) regions of ER as separate polypeptides in mammalian cells, along with the steroid receptor coactivator-1 protein (SRC- 1). We demonstrate that SRC-1, which has been shown to significantly increase ER transcriptional activity, enhanced the interaction, mediated by either E2 or TOT, between the AF-1-containing and AF-2-containing regions of the ER. However, this enhanced interaction resulted in increased transcriptional effectiveness only with E2 and not with TOT, consistent with the effects of SRC-1 on the full-length receptor. Our results suggest that after ligand binding, SRC-1 may act, in part, as an adapter protein that promotes the integration of amino- and carboxyl-terminal receptor functions, allowing for full receptor activation. Potentially, SRC-1 may be capable of enhancing the transcriptional activity of related nuclear receptor superfamily members by facilitating the productive association of the two AF-containing regions in these receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10069-10073
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - Sep 17 1996


  • activation domain
  • coactivator
  • nuclear receptor
  • transcriptional synergism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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