Identification of a structural determinant necessary for the localization and function of estrogen receptor α at the plasma membrane

Mahnaz Razandi, Gordon Alton, Ali Pedram, Sanjiv Ghonshani, Paul Webb, Ellis R. Levin

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289 Scopus citations


Estrogen receptors (ER) have been localized to the cell plasma membrane (PM), where signal transduction mediates some estradiol (E2) actions. However, the precise structural features of ER that result in membrane localization have not been determined. We obtained a partial tryptic peptide/mass spectrometry analysis of membrane mouse ERα protein. Based on this, we substituted alanine for the determined serine at amino acid 522 within the E domain of wild-type (wt) ERα. Upon transfection in CHO cells, the S522A mutant ERα resulted in a 62% decrease in membrane receptor number and reduced colocalization with caveolin 1 relative to those with expression of wt ERα. E2 was significantly less effective in stimulating multiple rapid signals from the membranes of CHO cells expressing ERα S522A than from those of CHO cells expressing wt ERα. In contrast, nuclear receptor expression and transcriptional function were very similar. The S522A mutant was also 60% less effective than wt ERα in binding caveolin 1, which facilitates ER transport to the PM. All functions of ERα mutants with other S-to-A substitutions were comparable to those of wt ER, and deletion of the A/B or C domain had little consequence for membrane localization or function. Transfection of ERα S522A into breast cancer cells that express native ER downregulated E2 binding at the membrane, signaling to ERK, and G1/S cell cycle events and progression. However, there was no effect on the E2 transactivation of an ERE-luciferase reporter. In summary, serine 522 is necessary for the efficient translocation and function of ERα at the PM. The S522A mutant also serves as a dominant-negative construct, identifying important functions of E2 that originate from activating PM ER.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1633-1646
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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