Calcineurin regulates the stability and activity of estrogen receptor α

Takahiro Masaki, Makoto Habara, Yuki Sato, Takahiro Goshima, Keisuke Maeda, Shunsuke Hanaki, Midori Shimada

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Estrogen receptor α (ER-α) mediates estrogen-dependent cancer progression and is expressed in most breast cancer cells. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of the cellular abundance and activity of ER-α remain unclear. We here show that the protein phosphatase calcineurin regulates both ER-α stability and activity in human breast cancer cells. Calcineurin depletion or inhibition down-regulated the abundance of ER-α by promoting its polyubiquitination and degradation. Calcineurin inhibition also promoted the binding of ER-α to the E3 ubiquitin ligase E6AP, and calcineurin mediated the dephosphorylation of ER-α at Ser294 in vitro. Moreover, the ER-α (S294A) mutant was more stable and activated the expression of ER-α target genes to a greater extent compared with the wild-type protein, whereas the extents of its interaction with E6AP and polyubiquitination were attenuated. These results suggest that the phosphorylation of ER-α at Ser294 promotes its binding to E6AP and consequent degradation. Calcineurin was also found to be required for the phosphorylation of ER-α at Ser118 by mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 and the consequent activation of ER-α in response to β-estradiol treatment. Our study thus indicates that calcineurin controls both the stability and activity of ER-α by regulating its phosphorylation at Ser294 and Ser118. Finally, the expression of the calcineurin A-α gene (PPP3CA) was associated with poor prognosis in ER-α-positive breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen or other endocrine therapeutic agents. Calcineurin is thus a promising target for the development of therapies for ER-α-positive breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2114258118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 02-11-2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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