The aim of the present study was to investigate the intracellular signaling events downstream of the classical estrogen receptors (ESRs) and G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER) involved in regulation of proliferation and apoptosis of rat Sertoli cells, in which we have previously described ESR1, ESR2, and GPER. ESRs play a role in Sertoli cell proliferation, and GPER, but not ESRs, plays a role modulating gene expression involved with apoptosis. The present study shows that 17beta-estradiol (E2) and the GPER-selective agonist G-1 rapidly activate phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PIK3)/serine threonine protein kinase (AKT) and cyclic AMP response element-binding (CREB) phosphorylation. E2 and the ESR1-selective agonist 4,4′,4″-(4-propyl-(1H)-pyrazole-1,3,5-triyl)trisphenol (PPT) increase the expression of cyclin D1 (CCND1), whereas the ESR2-selective agonist 2,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)-propionitrile (DPN) and G-1 do not change the expression of this protein, suggesting that ESR1 is the upstream receptor regulating Sertoli cell proliferation. E2- or PPT-ESR1, through activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/mitogen-activated protein kinase 3/1 (MAPK3/1) and PIK3 pathways, induces upregulation of CCND1. KG-501, the compound that disrupts the phospho-CREB/CREB binding protein (CBP) complex, does not change E2- or PPT-ESR1-mediated CCND1 expression, suggesting that phospho-CREB/cyclic AMP response element/CBP is not involved in the expression of this protein. E2- or G-1-GPER, through activation of EGFR/MAPK3/1 and PIK3 pathways, may be involved in the upregulation of antiapoptotic proteins BCL2 and BCL2L2. E2- or G-1-GPER/EGFR/MAPK3/1/phospho-CREB decreases BAX expression. Taken together, these results show a differential effect of E2-GPER on the CREB-mediated transcription of proapoptotic and antiapoptotic genes of the same BCL2 gene family. ESR1 and GPER can mediate the rapid E2 actions in the Sertoli cells, which in turn can modulate nuclear transcriptional events important for Sertoli cell function and maintenance of normal testis development and homeostasis. Our findings are important to clarify the role of estrogen in a critical period of testicular development, and to direct further studies, which may contribute to better understanding of the causes of male infertility.
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Vol. 86 • No. 4