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Estrogen Receptor {beta}: Switching to a New Partner and Escaping from Estrogen

Estrogen receptor (ER) β, the “second” ER, plays a gatekeeper role by inhibiting cell proliferation, promoting apoptosis, and impeding the progression of prostate cancer. Ironically, its presumed ligand, 17β-estradiol, promotes cancer development in experimental models. The mechanisms underlying the interplay between estrogens and ERβ in prostate cancer remain largely unclear. Research on a previously unknown tethering partner of ERβ, Krüppel-like zinc finger transcription factor 5 (KLF5), and its downstream gene target (FOXO1) helps to unlock this puzzle. 17β-Estradiol is not required to maintain the tumor-suppressive function of ERβ in the prostate, a tissue with limited estrogen availability; moreover, the presence of 17β-estradiol abrogates ERβ- and KLF5-mediated signaling and promotes cellular proliferation. Future research into ERβ will likely involve this estrogen independency and the preference for binding nonclassical DNA elements through tethering. The development of ERβ-based therapies may lead to improved drug efficacy.

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