CREB-regulated transcription co-activator family stimulates promoter II-driven aromatase expression in preadipocytes

Nirukshi Udayanga Gunasinghe Samarajeewa, Maria Docanto, Evan R Simpson, Kristy A Brown

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The dramatically increased prevalence of breast cancer after menopause is of great concern and is correlated with elevated local levels of estrogens. This is mainly due to an increase in aromatase expression driven by its proximal promoter II (PII). We have previously demonstrated that the CREB co-activator CRTC2 binds directly to PII and stimulates its activity via mechanisms involving LKB1-AMPK in response to prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). There are three members of the CRTC family (CRTC1-3) and this study aimed to characterize the role of other CRTCs in the activation of aromatase PII. The expression and subcellular localization of CRTCs were examined in preadipocytes using qPCR and immunofluorescence. Under basal conditions, CRTC1 expression was the lowest, whereas CRTC3 transcripts were present at higher levels. Basally, CRTC2 and CRTC3 were mainly cytoplasmic and PGE2 caused their nuclear translocation. Reporter assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) were performed to assess the effect of CRTCs on PII activity and binding. Basal PII activity was significantly increased with all CRTCs. Forskolin (FSK)/phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), to mimic PGE2, resulted in a further significant increase in PII activity with all CRTCs, with CRTC2 and CRTC3 having greater effects. This was consistent with ChIP data showing an increased binding of CRTCs to PII with FSK/PMA. Moreover, gene silencing of CRTC2 and CRTC3 significantly reduced the FSK/PMA-mediated stimulation of aromatase activity. Interestingly, CRTCs acted cooperatively with CREB1 to increase PII activity, and both CREs were found to be essential for the maximal induction of PII activity by CRTCs. Phosphorylation of CRTC2 at its AMPK target site, Ser 171, dictated its subcellular localization, and the activation of aromatase PII in preadipocytes. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that aromatase regulation in primary human breast preadipocytes involves more than one CRTC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233 - 241
Number of pages9
JournalHormones and Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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