Differential subcellular distribution of estrogen receptor isoforms: localization of ERalpha in the nucleoli and ERbeta in the mitochondria of human osteosarcoma SaOS-2 and hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cell lines

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Sep 30;1745(3):382-92. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2005.05.010.


The localization of estrogen receptors alpha (ERalpha) and beta (ERbeta) in osteosarcoma SaOS-2 and hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cells was studied by immunofluorescence labelling and confocal laser scanning microscopy, as well as by subcellular fractionation and immunoblotting of the proteins of the fractions with respective antibodies. In both cell types, ERalpha was localized mainly in the nucleus, particularly concentrated on nuclear structures, which on the basis of their staining with pyronin and with antibodies against the nucleoli-specific Ki67 antigen and C23-nucleolin, were characterized as nucleoli. A faint, diffuse ERalpha staining was also observed in the cytoplasm. ERbeta was specifically enriched at the site of the mitochondria, visualized by labelling with the vital dye CMX and antibody against the mitochondrial-specific cytochrome oxidase subunit I. Immunoblotting experiments corroborated the immunofluorescence labelling distribution of ERalpha and ERbeta. These findings support the concept of a direct action of steroid/thyroid hormones on mitochondrial functions by way of their cognate receptors and also suggest a direct involvement of ERalpha in nucleolar-related processes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Nucleolus / metabolism*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta