The p160/steroid receptor coactivator (SRC) family comprises three pleiotropic coregulators (SRC-1, SRC-2, and SRC-3; otherwise known as NCOA1, NCOA2, and NCOA3, respectively), which modulate a wide spectrum of physiological responses and clinicopathologies. Such pleiotropy is achieved through their inherent structural complexity, which allows this coregulator class to control both nuclear receptor and non-nuclear receptor signaling. As observed in other physiologic systems, members of the SRC family have recently been shown to play pivotal roles in uterine biology and pathobiology. In the murine uterus, SRC-1 is required to launch a full steroid hormone response, without which endometrial decidualization is markedly attenuated. From “dovetailing” clinical and mouse studies, an isoform of SRC-1 was recently identified which promotes endometriosis by reprogramming endometrial cells to evade apoptosis and to colonize as endometriotic lesions within the peritoneal cavity. The endometrium fails to decidualize without SRC-2, which accounts for the infertility phenotype exhibited by mice devoid of this coregulator. In related studies on human endometrial stromal cells, SRC-2 was shown to act as a molecular “pacemaker” of the glycolytic flux. This finding is significant because acceleration of the glycolytic flux provides the necessary bioenergy and biomolecules for endometrial stromal cells to switch from quiescence to a proliferative phenotype, a critical underpinning in the decidual progression program. Although studies on uterine SRC-3 function are in their early stages, clinical studies provide tantalizing support for the proposal that SRC-3 is causally linked to endometrial hyperplasia as well as with endometrial pathologies in patients diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. This proposal is now driving the development and application of innovative technologies, particularly in the mouse, to further understand the functional role of this elusive uterine coregulator in normal and abnormal physiologic contexts. Because dysregulation of this coregulator triad potentially presents a triple threat for increased risk of subfecundity, infertility, or endometrial disease, a clearer understanding of the individual and combinatorial roles of these coregulators in uterine function is urgently required. This minireview summarizes our current understanding of uterine SRC function, with a particular emphasis on the next critical questions that need to be addressed to ensure significant expansion of our knowledge of this underexplored field of uterine biology.
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Vol. 91 • No. 5