Regulation of vitamin D receptor expression via estrogen-induced activation of the ERK 1/2 signaling pathway in colon and breast cancer cells

Liat Abovich Gilad, Tali Bresler, Julia Gnainsky, Patricia Smirnoff, Betty Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


We previously demonstrated that 17β-estradiol (E2) regulates the transcription and expression of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in rat colonocytes and duodenocytes in vivo. The aim of the present study was to assess whether the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) induced by E2 is involved in regulating VDR expression. We compared E2-associated signaling activity in HT29 colon cancer cells, a non-classical E2-target, with that in MCF-7 breast cancer cells, the natural targets of the hormone. E2 did not affect proliferation of HT29 cells, but enhanced proliferation of MCF-7 cells. Vitamin D inhibited proliferation of both cell lines and the combined treatment induced potentiation of vitamin D activity. E2 upregulated VDR transcription and protein expression concomitantly with ERK 1/2 phosphorylation in both cell lines. PD98059, a specific mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor, prevented E2-mediated activation of ERK 1/2, with concomitant inhibition of VDR expression. ICI182780 inhibited VDR expression in HT29 and MCF-7 cell lines. A conjugate of E2 and bovine serum albumin upregulated phosphorylation of ERK 1/2 and concomitantly enhanced VDR expression in a similar fashion as the nonconjugated hormone. Expression of ERα and ERβ was detected in MCF-7 and HT29 cell lines respectively, which localized to the nuclei, cytosol and caveolar membrane rather than non-caveolar membrane. Disruption of lipid rafts/caveolae by depleting cellular cholesterol with the cholesterol-binding reagent β-methylcyclodextrin blocked ERK 1/2 phosphorylation concomitantly with VDR upregulation. The tyrosine phosphorylation inhibitor suramin and src kinase inhibitor PP2 inhibited both ERK 1/2 phosphorylation and VDR expression. E2 induced phosphorylation of Raf and Jun in a time-dependent manner. The Ras/Raf dependent inhibitor of transactivation sulindac sulfide also blocked E2 effects. The specific c-Jun phosphorylation inhibitor SP600125 dose dependently inhibited c-Jun phosphorylation and VDR expression. The MAPK/ERK kinase inhibitor PD 98059 downregulated both c-Jun phosphorylation and VDR expression indicating that upstream and downstream events in the signaling cascade are all related to the control of VDR expression. Taken together, our data suggest that E2 binds to receptors compartmentalized to membranal caveolar domains in HT29 and MCF-7 cells, inducing ERK 1/2 activation and transcriptional activity, which finally results in upregulation of expression of the VDR gene.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)577-592
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005


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