Identity of an estrogen membrane receptor coupled to a G protein in human breast cancer cells

Endocrinology. 2005 Feb;146(2):624-32. doi: 10.1210/en.2004-1064. Epub 2004 Nov 11.


Although nonclassical estrogen actions initiated at the cell surface have been described in many tissues, the identities of the membrane estrogen receptors (mERs) mediating these actions remain unclear. Here we show that GPR30, an orphan receptor unrelated to nuclear estrogen receptors, has all the binding and signaling characteristics of a mER. A high-affinity (dissociation constant 2.7 nm), limited capacity, displaceable, single binding site specific for estrogens was detected in plasma membranes of SKBR3 breast cancer cells that express GPR30 but lack nuclear estrogen receptors. Progesterone-induced increases and small interfering RNA-induced decreases in GPR30 expression in SKBR3 cells were accompanied by parallel changes in specific estradiol-17beta (E2) binding. Plasma membranes of human embryonic kidney 293 cells transfected with GPR30, but not those of untransfected cells, and human placental tissues that express GPR30 also displayed high-affinity, specific estrogen binding typical of mERs. E2 treatment of transfected cell membranes caused activation of a stimulatory G protein that is directly coupled to the receptor, indicating GPR30 is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), and also increased adenylyl cyclase activity. The finding that the antiestrogens tamoxifen and ICI 182,780, and an environmental estrogen, ortho,para-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (o,p'-DDE), have high binding affinities to the receptor and mimic the actions of E2 has important implications for both the development and treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer. GPR30 is structurally unrelated to the recently discovered family of GPCR-like membrane progestin receptors. The identification of a second distinct class of GPCR-like steroid membrane receptors suggests a widespread role for GPCRs in nonclassical steroid hormone actions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes
  • Transfection


  • Estrogens
  • GPER1 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs
  • Adenylyl Cyclases