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Mol Endocrinol. 2001 Nov;15(11):1971-82.

A unique downstream estrogen responsive unit mediates estrogen induction of proteinase inhibitor-9, a cellular inhibitor of IL-1beta- converting enzyme (caspase 1).

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801-3602, USA.


Recently, proteinase inhibitor 9 (PI-9) was identified as the first endogenous inhibitor of caspase 1 (IL-1beta-converting enzyme). The regulation of PI-9 expression, therefore, has great importance in the control of inflammatory processes. We reported that PI-9 mRNA and protein are rapidly and directly induced by estrogen in human liver cells. Using transient transfections to assay PI-9 promoter truncations and mutations, we demonstrate that this strong estrogen induction is mediated by a unique downstream estrogen responsive unit (ERU) approximately 200 nucleotides downstream of the transcription start site. Using primers flanking the ERU in chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we demonstrate estrogen-dependent binding of ER to the cellular PI-9 promoter. The ERU consists of an imperfect estrogen response element (ERE) palindrome immediately adjacent to a direct repeat containing two consensus ERE half-sites separated by 13 nucleotides (DR13). In transient transfections, all four of the ERE half-sites in the imperfect ERE and in the DR13 were important for estrogen inducibility. Transfected chicken ovalbumin upstream transcription factor I and II down-regulated estrogen-mediated expression from the ERU. EMSAs using purified recombinant human ERalpha demonstrate high-affinity binding of two ER complexes to the ERU. Further EMSAs showed that one ER dimer binds to an isolated DR13, supporting the view that one ER dimer binds to the imperfect ERE and one ER dimer binds to DR13. Deoxyribonuclease I footprinting showed that purified ER protected all four of the half-sites in the ERU. Our finding that a direct repeat can function with an imperfect ERE palindrome to confer estrogen inducibility on a native gene extends the repertoire of DNA sequences able to function as EREs.

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