Editors' ChoiceSteroid Hormones

Converging on the Promoter

Science's STKE  14 Nov 2006:
Vol. 2006, Issue 361, pp. tw388
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3612006tw388

Steroid hormones modulate gene transcription through interactions of their receptors with hormone-responsive elements on target genes. Noting that steroid receptors also activate the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway, Vicent et al. used the T47D-MTVL breast cancer cell line--which carries a chromosomally integrated copy of the luciferase gene under the control of the MMTV-LTR promoter--to investigate the role of ERK signaling in progestin action. Treatment with the progesterone receptor (PR) agonist R5020 led to rapid phosphorylation of ERK1/2, the progesterone receptor-B isoform (PRB), and the ERK target MSK1 (mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase 1) as well as to transcriptional activation of the MMTV reporter. Hormone-dependent phosphorylation of PR and MSK1 required ERK activation, as did the hormone-dependent induction of MMTV (which also required MSK1 activation) and other progesterone target genes. R5020 stimulated recruitment to the MMTV promoter of PR and a complex containing phosphorylated PRB, phosphorylated ERK, and phosphorylated MSK1. Furthermore, R5020 elicited a MSK1-dependent increase in phosphorylation on serine 10 of histone H3 of the MMTV promoter, associated with the MSK1-dependent loss of HP1γ (heterochromatin protein 1γ) and recruitment of chromatin-remodeling factors and RNA polymerase II. Thus, activation of the ERK signaling pathway appears to play a critical role in progestin-dependent gene transcription that involves MSK1-dependent phosphorylation of histone H3, enabling the loss of repressive complexes from the promoters of target genes and the recruitment of chromatin-remodeling factors.

G. P. Vicent, C. Ballaré, A. S. Nacht, J. Clausell, A. Subtil-Rodríguez, I. Quiles, A. Jordan, M. Beato, Induction of progesterone target genes requires activation of Erk and Msk kinases and phosphorylation of histone H3. Mol. Cell. 24, 367-381 (2006). [PubMed]