The classical concept of estrogen receptor (ER) activation is that steroid passes the cell membrane, binds to its specific protein receptor in the cell's cytoplasm and the steroid-receptor complex travels to the nucleus where it activates responsive genes. This basic idea has been challenged by results of experiments demonstrating insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) activation of the ER in the complete absence of estrogen suggesting at least one other mechanism of ER activation not involving steroid. One explanation is that activation of the cell surface IGF-1 receptor leads to synthesis of an intracellular protein(s) able to bind to and stimulate the ER. Based on results using the two-hybrid system, coimmunoprecipitation and transfection-luciferase assays, we herein show that one of these proteins could well be receptor for activated C kinase 1 (RACK-1). Using the human ER type α (ER-α) as bait, a cloned complementary deoxyribonucleic acid (cDNA) library from IGF-1 treated human breast cancer MCF-7 cells was screened for ER-α - protein interactions. Many positive clones were obtained which contained the RACK-1 cDNA sequence. Coimmunoprecipitation of in-vitro translation products of the ER-α and RACK-1 confirmed the interaction between the two proteins. Transfection studies using the estrogen response element spliced to a luciferase reporter gene revealed that constitutive RACK-1 expression was able to powerfully stimulate ER-α activity under estrogen-free conditions. This effect could be enhanced by 17β-estradiol (E2) and blocked by tamoxifen, an E2 antagonist. These results show that RACK-1 is able to activate the ER-α in the absence of E2, although together with the latter, enhanced effects occur. Since RACK-1 gene expression is stimulated by IGF-1, it is distinctly possible that RACK-1 is the mediator of the stimulatory effects of IGF-1 on ER-α.
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Funding: BBSRC, AIRC and Lennox Children's Cancer fund.
- breast cancer
- estrogen receptor
- receptor for activated C Kinase 1