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Biol Reprod. 2000 Jun;62(6):1763-71.

Transcriptional interference between glucocorticoid receptor and estradiol receptor mediates the inhibitory effect of cortisol on fish vitellogenesis.

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  • 1Endocrinologie Moléculaire de la Reproduction, UPRES-A CNRS 6026, Endocrinologie Moléculaire des Poissons, INRA, Université de Rennes 1, 35042 Rennes cedex, France.


In oviparous species, the synthesis of vitellogenin (Vg) takes place in the liver according to a strictly estrogen-dependent mechanism that first involves an up-regulation of the estrogen receptor (ER) by its own ligand. However, reports from the literature indicate that in trout stress or cortisol may cause a reduction of cytosolic E2-binding sites in the liver and a decrease in plasma Vg levels. To investigate the mechanisms underlying these effects, in vivo and in vitro experiments were designed in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The results demonstrate that cortisol implanted into maturing females caused a marked decrease of rainbow trout ER (rtER) and rainbow trout Vg (rtVg) mRNA levels in the liver. In vitro experiments on hepatocyte aggregates also showed that dexamethasone (Dex) caused a strong decrease in the basal and E2-stimulated rtER mRNA and to a lesser extent rtVg mRNA. These effects were specific as no other hormones were able to mimic the inhibitory action of Dex. A study of rtER mRNA stability indicated that the effects of glucocorticoids are likely to take place at the transcriptional level. This was further indicated by transfection experiments in CHO-K(1) cells, which showed that rainbow trout glucocorticoid receptor (rtGR) strongly inhibited the E2-stimulated transcriptional activity of the rtER promoter. Taken together, these results indicate that the rtGR exerts a transcriptional interference on the expression of the rtER that may explain some of the negative effects of stress or cortisol on vitellogenesis.

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