Phosphorylation of Estrogen Receptor α at Serine 118 Directs Recruitment of Promoter Complexes and Gene-Specific Transcription

Endocrinology. 2011 Jun;152(6):2517-26. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-1281. Epub 2011 Apr 19.


Phosphorylation of estrogen receptor α (ERα) is important for receptor function, although the role of specific ERα phosphorylation sites in ERα-mediated transcription remains to be fully evaluated. Transcriptional activation by ERα involves dynamic, coordinate interactions with coregulators at promoter enhancer elements to effect gene expression. To determine whether ERα phosphorylation affects recruitment of unique protein complexes at gene-specific promoters, changes in ERα Ser118 phosphorylation were assessed for effects on receptor and coregulator recruitment and transcription of ERα-regulated genes. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays to measure promoter association found a 17β-estradiol (E2)-dependent recruitment of ERα at 150 min to ERα-regulated promoters, whereas ERα phosphorylated at Ser118 was dissociated from promoters after E2 treatment. Mutation of Ser118 to alanine (S118A) altered unliganded and ligand-induced association of ERα and p160 coregulators with ERα target promoters when compared with wild-type (WT)-ERα transfection. S118A and WT-ERα exhibited a similar level of recruitment to the estrogen response element-driven pS2 promoter and induced pS2 mRNA after E2 treatment. Although WT-ERα was recruited to c-myc and cyclin D1 promoters after E2 treatment and induced mRNA expression, S118A exhibited reduced interaction with c-myc and cyclin D1 promoters, and E2 did not induce c-myc and cyclin D1 mRNA. In addition, S118A resulted in increased recruitment of steroid receptor coactivator-1, glucocorticoid receptor interacting protein-1, and activated in breast cancer-1 to pS2, c-myc, and cyclin D1 irrespective of the presence of E2. Together, these data indicate that site specific phosphorylation of ERα directs gene-specific recruitment of ERα and transcriptional coregulators to ERα target gene promoters.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclin D1 / genetics
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / chemistry*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Protein Binding
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myb / genetics
  • Serine / genetics
  • Serine / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptional Activation*


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogens
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myb
  • Cyclin D1
  • Serine
  • Estradiol