ER-α36, a novel variant of ER-α, mediates estrogen-stimulated proliferation of endometrial carcinoma cells via the PKCδ/ERK pathway

Jing-Shan Tong, Qing-Hua Zhang, Zhen-Bo Wang, Sen Li, Cai-Rong Yang, Xue-Qi Fu, Yi Hou, Zhao-Yi Wang, Jun Sheng, Qing-Yuan Sun
PloS One 2010, 5 (11): e15408

BACKGROUND: Recently, a variant of ER-α, ER-α36 was identified and cloned. ER-α36 lacks intrinsic transcription activity and mainly mediates non-genomic estrogen signaling. The purpose of this study was to investigate the function and the underlying mechanisms of ER-α36 in growth regulation of endometrial Ishikawa cancer cells.

METHODS: The cellular localization of ER-α36 and ER-α66 were determined by immunofluorescence in the Ishikawa cells. Ishikawa endometrial cancer control cells transfected with an empty expression vector, Ishikawa cells with shRNA knockdown of ER-α36 (Ishikawa/RNAiER36) and Ishikawa cells with shRNA knockdown of ER-α66 (Ishikawa/RNAiER66) were treated with E2 and E2-conjugated to bovine serum albumin (E2-BSA, membrane impermeable) in the absence and presence of different kinase inhibitors HBDDE, bisindolylmaleimide, rottlerin, H89 and U0126. The phosphorylation levels of signaling molecules and cyclin D1/cdk4 expression were examined with Western blot analysis and cell growth was monitored with the MTT assay.

RESULTS: Immunofluorescence staining of Ishikawa cells demonstrated that ER-α36 was expressed mainly on the plasma membrane and in the cytoplasm, while ER-α66 was predominantly localized in the cell nucleus. Both E2 and E2-BSA rapidly activated PKCδ not PKCα in Ishikawa cells, which could be abrogated by ER-α36 shRNA expression. E2-and E2-BSA-induced ERK phosphorylation required ER-α36 and PKCδ. However, only E2 was able to induce Camp-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) phosphorylation. Furthermore, E2 enhances cyclin D1/cdk4 expression via ER-α36.

CONCLUSION: E2 activates the PKCδ/ERK pathway and enhances cyclin D1/cdk4 expression via the membrane-initiated signaling pathways mediated by ER-α36, suggesting a possible involvement of ER-α36 in E2-dependent growth-promoting effects in endometrial cancer cells.

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