• Estradiol Activates b-Catenin Dependent Transcription in Neurons

      Varea, Olga; Garrido, Juan Jose; Dopazo, Ana; Mendez, Pablo; Garcia-Segura, Luis Miguel; Wandosell, Francisco; Mei, Lin; Department of Neurology (2009-04-10)
      Estradiol may fulfill a plethora of functions in neurons, in which much of its activity is associated with its capacity to directly bind and dimerize estrogen receptors. This hormone-protein complex can either bind directly to estrogen response elements (ERE's) in gene promoters, or it may act as a cofactor at non-ERE sites interacting with other DNA-binding elements such as AP-1 or c-Jun. Many of the neuroprotective effects described for estrogen have been associated with this mode of action. However, recent evidence suggests that in addition to these â genomic effectsâ , estrogen may also act as a more general â trophic factorâ triggering cytoplasmic signals and extending the potential activity of this hormone. We demonstrated that estrogen receptor alpha associates with b-catenin and glycogen synthase kinase 3 in the brain and in neurons, which has since been confirmed by others. Here, we show that the action of estradiol activates b-catenin transcription in neuroblastoma cells and in primary cortical neurons. This activation is time and concentration-dependent, and it may be abolished by the estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182780. The transcriptional activation of b-catenin is dependent on lymphoid enhancer binding factor-1 (LEF-1) and a truncated-mutant of LEF-1 almost completely blocks estradiol TCF-mediated transcription. Transcription of a TCF-reporter in a transgenic mouse model is enhanced by estradiol in a similar fashion to that produced by Wnt3a. In addition, activation of a luciferase reporter driven by the engrailed promoter with three LEF-1 repeats was mediated by estradiol. We established a cell line that constitutively expresses a dominant-negative LEF-1 and it was used in a gene expression microarray analysis. In this way, genes that respond to estradiol or Wnt3a, sensitive to LEF-1, could be identified and validated. Together, these data demonstrate the existence of a new signaling pathway controlled by estradiol in neurons. This pathway shares some elements of the insulin-like growth factor-1/Insulin and Wnt signaling pathways, however, our data strongly suggest that it is different from that of both these ligands. These findings may reveal a set of new physiological roles for estrogens, at least in the Central Nervous System (CNS).