The estrogen receptor α (ERα) is a transcription factor that can be directly activated by estrogen or indirectly by other signaling pathways. We previously reported that activation of the unliganded ERα by cAMP is mediated by phosphorylation of the transcriptional coactivator CARM1 by protein kinase A (PKA), allowing CARM1 to bind ERα directly. This being insufficient by itself to activate ERα, we looked for additional factors and identified the histone H3 demethylase LSD1 as a substrate of PKA and an important mediator of this signaling crosstalk as well as of the response to estrogen. Surprisingly, ERα engages not only LSD1, but its partners of the CoREST corepressor complex and the molecular chaperone Hsp90. The recruitment of Hsp90 to promote ERα transcriptional activity runs against the steroid receptor paradigm and suggests that it might be involved as an assembly factor or scaffold. In a breast cancer cell line, which is resistant to the anti-estrogen tamoxifen because of constitutively activated PKA, some interactions are constitutive and drug combinations partially rescue tamoxifen sensitivity. In ERα-positive breast cancer patients, high expression of the genes encoding some of these factors correlates with poor prognosis. Thus, these mechanisms might contribute to ERα-driven breast cancer.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.