Sci Rep 2016 10 10;6:34788. Epub 2016 Oct 10.
Departments of Radiology, and Bioengineering, the Bio-X Program, Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS), Stanford University School of Medicine, 3155, Porter Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1234, USA.
Estrogen receptor-α (ERα) plays an important role in normal and abnormal physiology of the human reproductive system by interacting with the endogenous ligand estradiol (E2). However, other ligands, either analogous or dissimilar to E2, also bind to ERα. This may create unintentional activation of ER signaling in reproductive tissues that can lead to cancer development. We developed a transgenic mouse model that constitutively expresses a firefly luciferase (FLuc) split reporter complementation biosensor (NFLuc-ER-LBD-CFLuc) to simultaneously evaluate the dynamics and potency of ligands that bind to ERα. We first validated this model using various ER ligands, including Raloxifene, Diethylstilbestrol, E2, and 4-hydroxytamoxifen, by employing FLuc-based optical bioluminescence imaging of living mice. We then used the model to investigate the carcinogenic property of Bisphenol A (BPA), an environmental estrogen, by long-term exposure at full and half environmental doses. We showed significant carcinogenic effects on female animals while revealing activated downstream ER signaling as measured by bioluminescence imaging. BPA induced tumor-like outgrowths in female transgenic mice, histopathologically confirmed to be neoplastic and epithelial in origin. This transgenic mouse model expressing an ERα folding-biosensor is useful in evaluation of estrogenic ligands and their downstream effects, and in studying environmental estrogen induced carcinogenesis in vivo.