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      Biological Role of Pituitary Estrogen Receptors ERα and ERβ on Progesterone Receptor Expression and Action and on Gonadotropin and Prolactin Secretion in the Rat

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          Estrogen (E) is a key regulator of the synthesis and secretion of pituitary reproductive hormones [luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and prolactin (PRL)]. Until recently, it was thought that all biological actions of E at the pituitary were manifested through a single E receptor (R). The pituitary, like many other reproductive tissues, expresses two isoforms of ER, α and β, both activated by E. The relative contribution of α and β forms in E regulatory actions is largely unknown. To this end, 2-week-old ovariectomized (OVX) rats were injected over 3 days with 25 µg estradiol benzoate (EB), 1.5 mg of propylpyrazole triol (PPT), a selective ERα agonist, 1.5 mg of the selective ERβ agonist diarylpropionitrile (DPN) or a combination of PPT and DPN. Controls were injected with 0.2 ml oil. At 10:00 h on the day after treatment, trunk blood was collected to determine serum concentration of LH, FSH and PRL, and pituitaries were processed for RT-PCR analysis of total (A+B) progesterone receptor (PR) mRNA, immunocytochemistry of PR and incubation. Pituitaries from each of the five groups were incubated in DMEM, with or without 20 n M of the antiprogestin at the receptor ZK299, for 3 h with: 10<sup>–8</sup> M 17β-estradiol, 10<sup>–6</sup> M PPT, 10<sup>–6</sup> M DPN, PPT+DPN or medium alone, respectively, to determine LH, FSH and PRL secretion, and, when challenged with two pulses of 15 min 1 h apart of 10<sup>–8</sup> M gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) (GnRH self-priming). EB, PPT and PPT+DPN treatments increased PR mRNA and the number and intensity of nuclei immunoreactive (IR) for PR in gonadotropes, and reduced the number of gonadectomy cells. Like E, PPT alone or in combination with DPN stimulated PRL secretion, increased basal and GnRH-stimulated LH and FSH secretion and induced GnRH self-priming in the absence of ZK299 in the incubation medium. DPN alone had only a significant E-like effect on gonadectomy cells and IR-PR, but not on GnRH self-priming. In addition, while DPN lacked an agonistic action on peripheral tissue and serum pituitary reproductive hormones concentration, EB, PPT and PPT+DPN induced similar uterine ballooning and vaginal cornification, and increased and decreased, respectively, serum concentrations of PRL and gonadotropins. Overall, these results indicate that most of these E actions on the pituitary are exerted through the ERα isoform. The finding that activation of ERβ with its selective DPN agonist had an estrogenic effect on IR-PR nuclei, but not on GnRH self-priming, a characteristic ERα-mediated effect of E, suggests that the biological action of E at the pituitary may involve both isoforms of ER.

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          Most cited references 20

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          Single-step method of RNA isolation by acid guanidinium thiocyanate-phenol-chloroform extraction.

          A new method of total RNA isolation by a single extraction with an acid guanidinium thiocyanate-phenol-chloroform mixture is described. The method provides a pure preparation of undegraded RNA in high yield and can be completed within 4 h. It is particularly useful for processing large numbers of samples and for isolation of RNA from minute quantities of cells or tissue samples.
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            Estrogen receptor-beta potency-selective ligands: structure-activity relationship studies of diarylpropionitriles and their acetylene and polar analogues.

            Through an effort to develop novel ligands that have subtype selectivity for the estrogen receptors alpha (ERalpha) and beta (ERbeta), we have found that 2,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)propionitrile (DPN) acts as an agonist on both ER subtypes, but has a 70-fold higher relative binding affinity and 170-fold higher relative potency in transcription assays with ERbeta than with ERalpha. To investigate the ERbeta affinity- and potency-selective character of this DPN further, we prepared a series of DPN analogues in which both the ligand core and the aromatic rings were modified by the repositioning of phenolic hydroxy groups and by the addition of alkyl substituents and nitrile groups. We also prepared other series of DPN analogues in which the nitrile functionality was replaced with acetylene groups or polar functions, to mimic the linear geometry or polarity of the nitrile, respectively. To varying degrees, all of the analogues show preferential binding affinity for ERbeta (i.e., they are ERbeta affinity-selective), and many, but not all of them, are also more potent in activating transcription through ERbeta than through ERalpha (i.e., they are ERbeta potency-selective). meso-2,3-Bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)succinonitrile and dl-2,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)succinonitrile are among the highest ERbeta affinity-selective ligands, and they have an ERbeta potency selectivity that is equivalent to that of DPN. The acetylene analogues have higher binding affinities but somewhat lower selectivities than their nitrile counterparts. The polar analogues have lower affinities, and only the fluorinated polar analogues have substantial affinity selectivities. This study suggests that, in this series of ligands, the nitrile functionality is critical to ERbeta selectivity because it provides the optimal combination of linear geometry and polarity. Furthermore, the addition of a second nitrile group beta to the nitrile in DPN or the addition of a methyl substitutent at an ortho position on the beta-aromatic ring increases the affinity and selectivity of these compounds for ERbeta. These ERbeta-selective compounds may prove to be valuable tools in understanding the differences in structure and biological function of ERalpha and ERbeta.
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              Role of estrogen receptor beta in estrogen action.

              There was a time when the classification of sex hormones was simple. Androgens were male and estrogens female. What remains true today is that in young adults androgen levels are higher in males and estrogen levels higher in females. More recently we have learned that estrogens are necessary in males for regulation of male sexual behavior, maintenance of the skeleton and the cardiovascular system, and for normal function of the testis and prostate. The importance of androgen in females was never in doubt, it is after all the precursor of estrogen as the substrate for aromatase, the enzyme that produces estrogen. In addition, the tissue distribution of androgen receptors suggests that androgens themselves are important in the ovary, uterus, breast, and brain. New information promises to clarify some of the complex issues of the physiological roles of estrogen and the contribution of estrogen to the development of neoplastic diseases in humans. The discovery of the second estrogen receptor, the creation of mutant mice defective in both estrogen receptors and in the aromatase gene, the solution of the structures of the ligand-binding domains of estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta), the finding of novel routes through which estrogen receptors can modulate transcription, and the identification of a man with a bi-allelic disruptive mutation of the ERalpha gene are but some of the milestones. This review focuses on the mechanistic aspects of signal transduction mediated by ERs and on the physiological consequences of deficiency of estrogen or estrogen receptor in the available mouse models.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                June 2004
                28 July 2004
                : 79
                : 5
                : 247-258
                aDepartments of Cell Biology, Physiology and Inmunology and bComparative Pathology, University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
                79100 Neuroendocrinology 2004;79:247–258
                © 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 8, Tables: 4, References: 50, Pages: 12
                Central Effects of Gonadal Steroids


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