How promiscuous is the estrogen receptor?
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 six years. Eric Glustrom '07, a neuroscience major, studied both in vivo and in vitro responses of estrogen receptor alpha to DDT metabolites as described in his poster below. Suzie Luft '08 examined estrogen receptor beta with a series of compounds derived from a natural pesticide pyrethroid as described in her poster below. Elias Aba Milki '10 spent the summer of 2008 confirming these results and cross checking all of the compounds with all of the receptors. He was ably assisted by Hannah Varmer, a rising junior at Amherst Regional High School. A manuscript on this work is being prepared for submission to Molecular Endocrinology.