Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston
Dr. Margaret Warner leads a research group focused on the study of three soluble ligand-activated receptors in health and disease: estrogen receptor beta (ERβ), liver X receptor beta (LXRβ) and aryl hydrocarbon receptor.
Studies with ERβ led to the discovery of a pathway in which dihydrotestosterone is converted into 3β-Adiol, an ERβ agonist. The pathway revealed a novel role for dihydrotestosterone in the prostate i.e., in addition to being a potent androgen, it is a precursor of an estrogen. The team is investigating the value of ERβ as a target for treatment of breast and prostate cancer.
All three receptors are involved in regulation of the immune system. Both ERβ and LXRβ play key roles in the central nervous system and appear to offer protection against neurodegenerative diseases caused by over activity of the brain’s immune system. These include Parkinson’s disease, amyotropic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis.
Prior to joining the University of Houston’s Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS), Warner worked in close collaboration with professor Jan-Åke Gustafsson at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Warner is a member of the CNRCS founding faculty and shares a research group with Gustafsson.