Estrogens and selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulators such as tamoxifen are known to increase uterine cell proliferation. Mounting evidence suggests that estrogen signaling is mediated not only by ERα and ERβ nuclear receptors, but also by GPR30 (GPER), a seven transmembrane (7TM) receptor. Here, we report that primary human endometriotic H-38 cells express high levels of GPR30 with no detectable ERα or ERβ. Using a novel tamoxifen analogue, STX, which activates GPR30 but not ERs, significant stimulation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways was observed in H-38 cells and in Ishikawa endometrial cancer cells expressing GPR30; a similar effect was observed in JEG3 choriocarcinoma cells. STX treatment also increased cellular pools of phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5) triphosphate, a proposed ligand for the nuclear hormone receptor SF-1 (NR5A1). Consistent with these findings, STX, tamoxifen, and the phytoestrogen genistein were able to increase SF-1 transcription, promote Ishikawa cell proliferation, and induce the SF-1 target gene aromatase in a GPR30-dependent manner. Our findings suggest a novel signaling paradigm that is initiated by estrogen activation of the 7TM receptor GPR30, with signal transduction cascades (PI3K and MAPK) converging on nuclear hormone receptors (SF-1/LRH-1) to modulate their transcriptional output. We propose that this novel GPR30/SF-1 pathway increases local concentrations of estrogen, and together with classic ER signaling, mediate the proliferative effects of synthetic estrogens such as tamoxifen, in promoting endometriosis and endometrial cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research