Mitogen-activated protein kinase regulates nuclear association of human progesterone receptors

Ming Qiu, Abby Olsen, Emily Faivre, Kathryn B. Horwitz, Carol A Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Breast cancers often have increased MAPK activity; this pathway may drive breast cancer cell growth by targeting steroid hormone receptors. MAPK phosphorylates human progesterone receptors (PRs) on Ser294, thus regulating several aspects of PR activity. To study the role of PR Ser294 phosphorylation on subcellular distribution, we stably expressed wild-type (wt) or S294A (Ser294 to Ala) PR-B in several cell types. PRs phosphorylated on Ser294 were nuclear. Activation of MAPK induced Ser294 phosphorylation and rapid nuclear translocation of wt, but not S294A, PR-B; both receptors concentrated in the nucleus after progestin treatment. The MAPK kinase inhibitor, U0126, blocked epidermal growth factor but not progestin-induced Ser294 phosphorylation and translocation of wt PR, indicating a novel mechanism for nuclear localization. After progestin treatment, wt PR-B underwent ligand-dependent down-regulation, while S294A PR-B persisted in nuclei. Prolonged treatment with U0126 or the nuclear export inhibitor, leptomycin B, promoted nuclear accumulation of wt PR-B and blocked ligand-dependent PR down-regulation, suggesting that PR degradation occurs in the cytoplasm and requires MAPK-dependent nuclear export. Stabilization of PRs by leptomycin B also blocked PR transcriptional activity, indicating a link between nucleocytoplasmic shuttling, receptor stability, and function. These results support a regulatory role for MAPK in nuclear steroid hormone receptor subcellular localization and coupling to multiple PR functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)628-642
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003

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