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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

High-throughput cell-based screening reveals a role for ZNF131 as a repressor of ERalpha signaling

Xiao Han14, Jinhai Guo1, Weiwei Deng1, Chenying Zhang1, Peige Du4*, Taiping Shi123* and Dalong Ma123

Author Affiliations

1 Chinese National Human Genome Center, #3-707 North YongChang Road BDA, Beijing 100176, PR China

2 Laboratory of Medical Immunology, School of Basic Medical Science, Peking University Health Science Center, 38# Xueyuan Road, Beijing, 100191, PR China

3 Peking University Center for Human Disease Genomics, 38# Xueyuan Road, Beijing, 100191, PR China

4 Beihua University, 3999 Huashan Road, Jilin City, Jilin Province, 132013, PR China

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:476  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-476

Published: 11 October 2008



Estrogen receptor α (ERα) is a transcription factor whose activity is affected by multiple regulatory cofactors. In an effort to identify the human genes involved in the regulation of ERα, we constructed a high-throughput, cell-based, functional screening platform by linking a response element (ERE) with a reporter gene. This allowed the cellular activity of ERα, in cells cotransfected with the candidate gene, to be quantified in the presence or absence of its cognate ligand E2.


From a library of 570 human cDNA clones, we identified zinc finger protein 131 (ZNF131) as a repressor of ERα mediated transactivation. ZNF131 is a typical member of the BTB/POZ family of transcription factors, and shows both ubiquitous expression and a high degree of sequence conservation. The luciferase reporter gene assay revealed that ZNF131 inhibits ligand-dependent transactivation by ERα in a dose-dependent manner. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay clearly demonstrated that the interaction between ZNF131 and ERα interrupts or prevents ERα binding to the estrogen response element (ERE). In addition, ZNF131 was able to suppress the expression of pS2, an ERα target gene.


We suggest that the functional screening platform we constructed can be applied for high-throughput genomic screening candidate ERα-related genes. This in turn may provide new insights into the underlying molecular mechanisms of ERα regulation in mammalian cells.