Nonclassical estrogen receptor α signaling mediates negative feedback in the female mouse reproductive axis

C. Glidewell-Kenney, L. A. Hurley, L. Pfaff, J. Weiss, J. E. Levine, J. L. Jameson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Ovarian estrogen exerts both positive and negative feedback control over luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion during the ovulatory cycle. Estrogen receptor (ER) α but not ERβ knockout mice lack estrogen feedback. Thus, estrogen feedback appears to be primarily mediated by ERα. However, it is now recognized that, in addition to binding to estrogen response elements (EREs) in DNA to alter target gene transcription, ERα signals through ERE-independent or nonclassical pathways, and the relative contributions of these pathways in conveying estrogen feedback remain unknown. Previously we created a knockin mouse model expressing a mutant form of ERα (AA) with ablated ERE-dependent but intact ERE-independent activity. Breeding this allele onto the ERα-null (-/-) background, we examine the ability of ERE-independent ERα signaling pathways to convey estrogen feedback regulation of the female hypothalamic-pituitary axis in vivo. ERα-/AA exhibited 69.9% lower serum LH levels compared with ERα-/- mice. Additionally, like wild type, ERα -/AA mice exhibited elevated LH after ovariectomy (OVX). Furthermore, the post-OVX rise in serum LH was significantly suppressed by estrogen treatment in OVX ERα-/AA mice. However, unlike wild type, both ERα-/AA and ERα-/- mice failed to exhibit estrous cyclicity, spontaneous ovulation, or an afternoon LH surge response to estrogen. These results indicate that ERE-independent ERα signaling is sufficient to convey a major portion of estrogen's negative feedback actions, whereas positive feedback and spontaneous ovulatory cyclicity require ERE-dependent ERα signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8173-8177
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 8 2007


  • Neuroendocrine
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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