FRET and single molecule spectroscopy can be used to study the details of cofactor binding and regulation in the ER. Fluorescence Polarization Spectroscopy can be used to measure the extent to which various pesticides, pesticide metabolites, and environmental toxins can displace a fluorescent estrogen analogue from the estrogen receptor. Many models have been proposed for the deleterious effects of certain exogenous factors on steroid hormone receptor functions. One of them is the inadvertent interference of these agents that results from their binding to the rather non-selective estrogen receptor. We have compared the binding of these substances to estrogen receptors alpha (common form of receptor) and beta (form of receptor found in neurological tissue) in an attempt to understand the factors that lead to enhanced affinity.
Several students have worked in this area in their senior honors research in the last few years. Shazad Anwar '14 continued work started by Walter Peterson '11 looking at regulation of the ER by calmodulin by using single molecule spectroscopy and FRET. Jackie Watson '12 adapted an assay to test for gene expression using a GFP based yeast expression. Catie Knuff '10 perfected a polarization assay for ER binding and Andrew Newman '10 explored regulation of binding coactivators SRC-1 and SRC-3 in the ER. Suzie Luft '08 examined estrogen receptor beta with a series of compounds derived from a natural pesticide pyrethroid as described in her poster below. Eric Glustrom '07, a neuroscience major, studied both in vivo and in vitro responses of estrogen receptor alpha to DDT metabolites. Summer and high school students who assisted with this work were Ian Mahoney '12, Afua Nti '12, Elias Aba Milki '10, Hannah Varmer ARHS '10. A manuscript on this work is being prepared for submission to Molecular Endocrinology.