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Mol Cell Biol. Sep 1995; 15(9): 4971–4979.
PMCID: PMC230744

Repression of the interleukin-6 promoter by estrogen receptor is mediated by NF-kappa B and C/EBP beta.

Abstract

Bone metabolism is regulated by a balance between bone resorption caused by osteoclasts and bone formation caused by osteoblasts. This balance is disturbed in postmenopausal women as a result of lower serum estrogen levels. Estrogen, which is used in hormone replacement therapy to prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis, downregulates expression of the interleukin 6 (IL-6) gene in osteoblasts and bone marrow stromal cells. IL-6 is directly involved in bone resorption by activating immature osteoclasts. We show here that NF-kappa B and C/EBP beta are important regulators of IL-6 gene expression in human osteoblasts. Importantly, the IL-6 promoter is inhibited by estrogen in the absence of a functional estrogen receptor (ER) binding site. This inhibition is mediated by the transcription factors NF-kappa B and C/EBP beta. Evidence is presented for a direct interaction between these two factors and ER. We characterized the protein sequence requirements for this association in vitro and in vivo. The physical and functional interaction depends in part on the DNA binding domain and region D of ER and on the Rel homology domain of NF-kappa B and the bZIP region of C/EBP beta. The cross-coupling between ER, NF-kappa B, and C/EBP beta also results in reduced activity of promoters with ER binding sites. We further show that the mechanism of IL-6 gene repression by estrogen is clearly different from that of activation of promoters with ER binding sites. Therefore, drugs that separate the transactivation and transrepression functions of ER will be very helpful for treatment of osteoporosis without causing undesirable side effects.

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Selected References

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