Estrogens produce biological effects by interacting with two estrogen receptors, ERα and ERβ. Drugs that selectively target ERα or ERβ might be safer for conditions that have been traditionally treated with non-selective estrogens. Several synthetic and natural ERβ-selective compounds have been identified. One class of ERβ-selective agonists is represented by ERB-041 (WAY-202041) which binds to ERβ much greater than ERα. A second class of ERβ-selective agonists derived from plants include MF101, nyasol and liquiritigenin that bind similarly to both ERs, but only activate transcription with ERβ. Diarylpropionitrile represents a third class of ERβ-selective compounds because its selectivity is due to a combination of greater binding to ERβ and transcriptional activity. However, it is unclear if these three classes of ERβ-selective compounds produce similar biological activities. The goals of these studies were to determine the relative ERβ selectivity and pattern of gene expression of these three classes of ERβ-selective compounds compared to estradiol (E2), which is a non-selective ER agonist. U2OS cells stably transfected with ERα or ERβ were treated with E2 or the ERβ-selective compounds for 6 h. Microarray data demonstrated that ERB-041, MF101 and liquiritigenin were the most ERβ-selective agonists compared to estradiol, followed by nyasol and then diarylpropionitrile. FRET analysis showed that all compounds induced a similar conformation of ERβ, which is consistent with the finding that most genes regulated by the ERβ-selective compounds were similar to each other and E2. However, there were some classes of genes differentially regulated by the ERβ agonists and E2. Two ERβ-selective compounds, MF101 and liquiritigenin had cell type-specific effects as they regulated different genes in HeLa, Caco-2 and Ishikawa cell lines expressing ERβ. Our gene profiling studies demonstrate that while most of the genes were commonly regulated by ERβ-selective agonists and E2, there were some genes regulated that were distinct from each other and E2, suggesting that different ERβ-selective agonists might produce distinct biological and clinical effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas