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Mol. Cell. Biol. 20 (23): 8793-8802

Copyright © 2000 by the American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.

Molecular and Cellular Biology, December 2000, p. 8793-8802, Vol. 20, No. 23
Copyright © 2000, American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.

Association with Ets-1 Causes Ligand- and AF2-Independent Activation of Nuclear Receptors

Rosa M. Tolón,1,2 Ana I. Castillo,1 Ana M. Jiménez-Lara,1 and Ana Aranda1,*

Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas "Alberto Sols," Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28029 Madrid,1 and Instituto de Investigación, Fundación Hospital Alcorcón, 29022 Alcorcón,2 Spain

Received 8 May 2000/Returned for modification 16 June 2000/Accepted 13 September 2000

The vitamin D receptor (VDR) normally functions as a ligand-dependent transcriptional activator. Here we show that, in the presence of Ets-1, VDR stimulates the prolactin promoter in a ligand-independent manner, behaving as a constitutive activator. Mutations in the AF2 domain abolish vitamin D-dependent transactivation but do not affect constitutive activation by Ets-1. Therefore, in contrast with the actions of vitamin D, activation by Ets-1 is independent of the AF2 domain. Ets-1 also conferred a ligand-independent activation to the estrogen receptor and to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha . In addition, Ets-1 cooperated with the unliganded receptors to stimulate the activity of reporter constructs containing consensus response elements fused to the thymidine kinase promoter. There is a direct interaction of the receptors with Ets-1 which requires the DNA binding domains of both proteins. Interaction with Ets-1 induces a conformational change in VDR which can be detected by an increased resistance to proteolytic digestion. Furthermore, a retinoid X receptor-VDR heterodimer in which both receptors lack the core C-terminal AF2 domain can recruit coactivators in the presence, but not in the absence, of Ets-1. This suggests that Ets-1 induces a conformational change in the receptor which creates an active interaction surface with coactivators even in the AF2-defective mutants. These results demonstrate the existence of a novel mechanism, alternative to ligand binding, which can convert an unliganded receptor from an inactive state into a competent transcriptional activator.

* Corresponding author. Mailing address: Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas "Alberto Sols," Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Arturo Duperier 4, 28029 Madrid, Spain. Phone: 34-91-585-4642. Fax: 34-91-585-4587. E-mail: aaranda{at}

Molecular and Cellular Biology, December 2000, p. 8793-8802, Vol. 20, No. 23
Copyright © 2000, American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.

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