Integration of the extranuclear and nuclear actions of estrogen

Mol Endocrinol. 2005 Aug;19(8):1951-9. doi: 10.1210/me.2004-0390. Epub 2005 Feb 10.


Estrogen receptors (ERs) are localized to many sites within the cell, potentially contributing to overall estrogen action. In the nucleus, estrogen mainly modulates gene transcription, and the resulting protein products determine the cell biological actions of the sex steroid. In addition, a small pool of ERs localize to the plasma membrane and signal mainly though coupling, directly or indirectly, to G proteins. In response to steroid, signal transduction modulates both nontranscriptional and transcriptional events and impacts both the rapid and more prolonged actions of estrogen. Cross-talk from membrane-localized ERs to nuclear ERs can be mediated through growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases, such as epidermal growth factor receptor and IGF-I receptor. Growth factor receptors enact signal transduction to kinases such as ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase that phosphorylate and activate nuclear ERs, and this can also occur in the absence of sex steroid. A complex relationship between the membrane and nuclear effects of estrogen also involves membrane-initiated phosphorylation of coactivators, recruiting these proteins to the nuclear transcriptosome. Finally, large pools of cytoplasmic ERs exist, and some are localized to mitochondria. The integration of sex steroid effects at distinct cellular locations of its receptor leads to important cellular physiological outcomes and are manifest in both reproductive and nonreproductive organs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Steroids / metabolism


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Steroids
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins