Retrograde transport of the transmembrane estrogen receptor, G-protein-coupled-receptor-30 (GPR30/GPER) from the plasma membrane towards the nucleus

Steroids. 2011 Aug;76(9):892-6. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2011.02.018. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


G-protein-coupled receptor 30 (GPR30/GPER) belongs to the seven transmembrane receptor (7TMR) superfamily, the most common class of surface receptor with approximately 800 known members. GPER promotes estrogen binding and rapid signaling via membrane-associated enzymes resulting in increased cAMP and release of heparan bound epidermal growth factor (proHB-EGF) from breast cancer cells. However, GPER is predominately localized intracellularly in breast cancer cells with minor amounts of receptor on the cell surface, an observation that has caused some controversy regarding its potential role as a plasma membrane estrogen receptor. Using the widely employed approach of tracking recombinant 7TMRs by surface labeling live cells, we have begun to characterize and compare the endocytic fate of GPER to other similarly labeled 7TMRs. Upon ectopic expression in human embryonic kidney HEK-293 cells, functional GPER is generated as these cells acquire the capacity to stimulate cAMP and activate cyclic AMP responsive binding protein in response to estradiol-17 beta stimulation. GPER is detectable on the cell surface by immunofluorescent analysis using HA-specific antibodies, albeit the bulk of the receptor is located intracellularly. Like β1AR (beta 1 adrenergic receptor) and CXCR4 (C-X-C chemokine receptor 4), GPER exits the plasma membrane via clathrin-coated pits and enters early endosomes. Interestingly, GPER has a destination that is uncommon among 7TMRs, as it accumulates in a perinuclear compartment. Like many 7TMRs (approximately one-third), GPER trafficking from the plasma membrane is constitutive (occurs in the absence of agonist). However, its route of intracellular trafficking is highly unusual, as 7TMRs typically recycle to the plasma membrane (e.g. β1AR) or are degraded in lysosomes (e.g. CXCR4). The accumulation of GPER in the perinuclear space and its possible significance for attenuating estrogen action via this newly recognized membrane estrogen receptor is discussed herein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / pathology
  • Nuclear Envelope / metabolism
  • Protein Transport*
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • GPER1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled