Expression and function of a novel variant of estrogen receptor-α36 in murine airways

Shuping Jia, Xintian Zhang, David Z.Z. He, Manav Segal, Abdo Berro, Trevor Gerson, Zhaoyi Wang, Thomas B. Casale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that estrogen signaling is involved in sex differences in the prevalence rates and control of asthma, but the expression patterns of estrogen receptor variants and estrogen function in the lung are not well established. We investigated the expression of major estrogen receptor variants occurring naturally and after the development of allergen-induced airway hyperreactivity in a murine model of allergic asthma, along with the role of estrogen signaling in small-airway ciliary motion and smooth muscle contraction. Female BALB/c mice were sensitized with ovalbumin, and estrogen receptor expression patterns were examined by immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis. Time-lapse video and photodiode-based displacement measurement systems were used to assess the effects of estrogen signaling on airway ciliary beat frequency and smooth muscle contraction. We found that a novel variant of estrogen receptor (ER)-α, ER-α36, is expressed in airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells. ER-α36 was predominately localized on the plasma membranes of airway cells. After sensitization to allergen, the expression levels of ER-α36 increased significantly (P <0.01), whereas the expression of ER-β and ER-α66 did not significantly change. Estrogen treatment in vitro resulted in a rapid increase in airway cilia motion in a dose-dependent fashion, but did not exert any effect on airway smooth muscle contraction. We speculate that the up-regulation of estrogen receptor expression associated with allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness may constitute a protective mechanism to facilitate the clearance of mucus. The identification and localization of specific estrogen receptor subtypes in the lung could lead to newer therapeutic avenues aimed at addressing sex differences of asthma susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1089
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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