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Erina Iwabuchi, Yasuhiro Miki, Takashi Suzuki, and Hironobu Sasano

In hormone-dependent cancers, the activation of hormone receptors promotes the progression of cancer cells. Many proteins exert their functions through protein–protein interactions (PPIs). Moreover, in such cancers, hormone–hormone receptor binding, receptor dimerization, and cofactor mobilization PPIs occur primarily in hormone receptors, including estrogen, progesterone, glucocorticoid, androgen, and mineralocorticoid receptors. The visualization of hormone signaling has been primarily reported by immunohistochemistry using specific antibodies; however, the visualization of PPIs is expected to improve our understanding of hormone signaling and disease pathogenesis. Visualization techniques for PPIs include Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis; however, these techniques require the insertion of probes in the cells for PPI detection. Proximity ligation assay (PLA) is a method that could be used for both formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue as well as immunostaining. It can also visualize hormone receptor localization and post-translational modifications of hormone receptors. This review summarizes the results of recent studies on visualization techniques for PPIs with hormone receptors; these techniques include FRET and PLA. In addition, super-resolution microscopy has been recently reported to be applicable to their visualization in both FFPE tissues and living cells. Super-resolution microscopy in conjunction with PLA and FRET could also contribute to the visualization of PPIs and subsequently provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of hormone-dependent cancers in the future.