Regulation of AKT Signaling in Mouse Uterus

Vijay K. Sirohi, Theresa I. Medrano, Ana M. Mesa, Athilakshmi Kannan, Indrani C. Bagchi, Paul S. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


17β-estradiol (E2) treatment of ovariectomized adult mice stimulates the uterine PI3K-AKT signaling pathway and epithelial proliferation through estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1). However, epithelial proliferation occurs independently of E2/ESR1 signaling in neonatal uteri. Similarly, estrogen-independent uterine epithelial proliferation is seen in adulthood in mice lacking Ezh2, critical for histone methylation, and in wild-type (WT) mice treated neonatally with estrogen. The role of AKT in estrogen-independent uterine epithelial proliferation was the focus of this study. Expression of the catalytically active phosphorylated form of AKT (p-AKT) and epithelial proliferation were high in estrogen receptor 1 knockout and WT mice at postnatal day 6, when E2 concentrations were low, indicating that neither ESR1 nor E2 are essential for p-AKT expression and epithelial proliferation in these mice. However, p-AKT levels and proliferation remained estrogen responsive in preweaning WT mice. Expression of p-AKT and proliferation were both high in uterine luminal epithelium of mice estrogenized neonatally and ovariectomized during adulthood. Increased expression of phosphorylated (inactive) EZH2 was also observed. Consistent with this, Ezh2 conditional knockout mice show ovary-independent uterine epithelial proliferation and high epithelial p-AKT. Thus, adult p-AKT expression is constitutive and E2/ESR1 independent in both model systems. Finally, E2-induced p-AKT expression and normal uterine proliferation did not occur in mice lacking membrane (m)ESR1, indicating a key role for membrane ESR1 in AKT activation. These findings emphasize the importance of AKT activation in promoting uterine epithelial proliferation even when that proliferation is not E2/ESR1 dependent and further indicate that p-AKT can be uncoupled from E2/ESR1 signaling in several experimental scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • cell proliferation
  • estrogen
  • estrogen receptor 1
  • membrane steroid receptors
  • protein kinase
  • uterine epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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