Estrogen promotes the proliferation and migration of vascular endothelial cells (ECs), which likely underlies its ability to accelerate re-endothelialization and reduce adverse remodeling after vascular injury. In previous studies, we have shown that the protective effects of E2 (the active endogenous form of estrogen) in vascular injury require the estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). ERα transduces the effects of estrogen via a classical DNA binding, "genomic" signaling pathway and via a more recently-described "rapid" signaling pathway that is mediated by a subset of ERα localized to the cell membrane. However, which of these pathways mediates the effects of estrogen on endothelial cells is poorly understood. Here we identify a triple point mutant version of ERα (KRR ERα) that is specifically defective in rapid signaling, but is competent to regulate transcription through the "genomic" pathway. We find that in ECs expressing wild type ERα, E2 regulates many genes involved in cell migration and proliferation, promotes EC migration and proliferation, and also blocks the adhesion of monocytes to ECs. ECs expressing KRR mutant ERα, however, lack all of these responses. These observations establish KRR ERα as a novel tool that could greatly facilitate future studies into the vascular and non-vascular functions of ERα rapid signaling. Further, they support that rapid signaling through ERα is essential for many of the transcriptional and physiological responses of ECs to E2, and that ERα rapid signaling in ECs, in vivo, may be critical for the vasculoprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of estrogen.
Lu, Q., Schnitzler, G. R., Ueda, K., Iyer, L. K., Diomede, O. I., Andrade, T., & Karas, R. H. (2016). ER alpha rapid signaling is required for estrogen induced proliferation and migration of vascular endothelial cells. PLoS ONE, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152807