Distinct Molecular Conformations of the Estrogen Receptor α Complex Exploited by Environmental Estrogens

David Bentrem, Jennifer E. Fox, Sandra Timm Pearce, Hong Liu, Sam Pappas, David Kugfer, James W. Zapf, V. Craig Jordan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We have advanced the view that estrogens activate the estrogen receptor (ER) α complex differently. A group of planar (estradiol, genistein, and coumestrol) and nonplanar (methoxychlor and its mono- and didemethylated phenolic metabolites) environmental estrogens, which are all full estrogens in MCF-7 breast cancer cell proliferation assays, was shown to segregate discretely into planar and nonplanar groups. These groups were delineated using a novel assay of mutant ER cDNAs stably transfected into MDA-MB-231 cells and the activation of the transforming growth factor a target gene in situ that putatively describes the external shape of the ER complex. Planar compounds activate estrogen action through the two traditional activation functions (AFs), AF1 and AF2, in the ER. In contrast, nonplanar compounds can activate estrogen action through AF1 and the amino acids Asp-351 and Asp-538, which are exposed when helix 12 silences AF2. The observation that class I (planar) and class II (nonplanar) compounds have different mechanisms of estrogen action may have important implications for tissue selective modulation of the ER.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7490-7496
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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