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    Estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor containing two transcriptional activation function (AF) domains. AF-1 is in the N terminus of the receptor protein, and AF-2 activity is dependent on helix 12 of the C-terminal ligand-binding domain. We recently showed that two point mutations converting leucines 543 and 544 to alanines in helix 12 (AF2ER) minimized estrogen-dependent AF-2 transcriptional activation. A characteristic feature of AF2ER is that the estrogen antagonists ICI182780 and tamoxifen (TAM) act as agonists through intact AF-1, but not through mutated AF-2. Here we report the reproductive phenotype of male AF2ER knock-in (AF2ERKI) mice and demonstrate the involvement of ERα in male fertility. The AF2ERKI male homozygotes are infertile because of seminiferous tubular dysmorphogenesis in the testis, similar to ERα KO males. Sperm counts and motility did not differ at age 6 wk in AF2ERKI and WT mice, but a significant testis defect was observed in adult AF2ERKI male mice. The expression of efferent ductal genes involved in fluid reabsorption was significantly lower in AF2ERKI males. TAM treatment for 3 wk beginning at age 21 d activated AF-2-mutated ERα (AF2ER) and restored expression of efferent ductule genes. At the same time, the TAM treatment reversed AF2ERKI male infertility compared with the vehicle-treated group. These results indicate that the ERα AF-2 mutation results in male infertility, suggesting that the AF-1 is regulated in an AF-2-dependent manner in the male reproductive tract. Activation of ERα AF-1 is capable of rescuing AF2ERKI male infertility.


    Yukitomo Arao, Katherine J Hamilton, Eugenia H Goulding, Kyathanahalli S Janardhan, Edward M Eddy, Kenneth S Korach. Transactivating function (AF) 2-mediated AF-1 activity of estrogen receptor α is crucial to maintain male reproductive tract function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012 Dec 18;109(51):21140-5

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    PMID: 23213263

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