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Mol Endocrinol. 2007 Jun;21(6):1281-96. Epub 2007 Mar 20.

Estrogen receptors alpha and beta mediate distinct pathways of vascular gene expression, including genes involved in mitochondrial electron transport and generation of reactive oxygen species.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Estrogen plays an important role in the regulation of vascular tone and in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease. Physiological effects of estrogen are mediated through estrogen receptors alpha (ERalpha) and beta (ERbeta), which are both expressed in vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells. However, the molecular pathways mediating estrogen effects in blood vessels are not well defined. We have performed gene expression profiling in the mouse aorta to identify comprehensive gene sets the expression of which is regulated by long-term (1 wk) estrogen treatment. The ER subtype dependence of the alterations in gene expression was characterized by parallel gene expression profiling experiments in ERalpha-deficient [ERalpha knockout (ERalphaKO)] and ERbeta-deficient (ERbetaKO) mice. Importantly, these data revealed that ERalpha- and ERbeta-dependent pathways regulate distinct and largely nonoverlapping sets of genes. Whereas ERalpha is essential for most of the estrogen-mediated increase in gene expression in wild-type aortas, ERbeta mediates the large majority (nearly 90%) of estrogen-mediated decreases in gene expression. Biological functions of the estrogen-regulated genes include extracellular matrix synthesis, in addition to electron transport in the mitochondrion and reactive oxygen species pathways. Of note, the estrogen/ERbeta pathway mediates down-regulation of mRNAs for nuclear-encoded subunits in each of the major complexes of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Several estrogen-regulated genes also encode transcription factors. Computational analysis of promoters from coexpressed genes revealed overrepresentation of binding sites for such factors, lending support for an estrogen-regulatory transcriptional network in the vasculature. Overall, these findings provide a foundation for understanding the molecular basis for estrogen effects on vasculature gene expression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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