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Endocrinology. 1993 Feb;132(2):489-95.

Estrogen-induced calbindin-D 9k gene expression in the rat uterus during the estrous cycle: late antagonistic effect of progesterone.

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  • 1INSERM U 120, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France.


Progesterone modulates estrogen-stimulated responses in the uterus. Calbindin-D 9k (CaBP9k), a 17 beta-estradiol-responsive gene expressed in the uterus, was used as a marker to examine the interactions between endogenous progesterone and estradiol in the rat. The variations in uterine CaBP9k messenger RNAs (mRNAs) during the rat estrous cycle indicated that CaBP9k gene expression was greatest during the estrogen-dominated phases (proestrus and estrus) and became totally repressed during diestrus, when progesterone predominates. Estradiol was found to be the major controlling factor of CaBP9k gene expression in vivo, progesterone antagonizing estrogen-induced CaBP9k gene expression. The inhibitory role of progesterone was further examined in two experiments. Mature cyclic rats were injected with the progesterone antagonist RU486 before the progesterone surge of proestrus, and the estrous cycle was mimicked in ovariectomized rats by sequential injections of estrogen and progestin. Progesterone did not appear to be involved in the rapid decrease in CaBP9k mRNA during estrus but was implicated in the down-regulation of the estrogen-stimulated CaBP9k gene expression at the end of estrus and during diestrus. This delayed effect of progesterone was confirmed in the ovariectomized rat model. CaBP9k mRNA accumulation in estrogen-primed ovariectomized rats was suppressed by estrogen followed 1 h later by the progesterone agonist R5020. This effect occurred more than 24 h after progestin treatment. The inhibition of the estrogen-induced CaBP9k gene expression in the rat uterus by progesterone is certainly mediated by the progesterone receptor, because progesterone had no effect without estrogen priming or when the antagonist RU486 was used. The delayed progesterone effect probably does not involve depletion of nuclear estrogen receptors, the major rapid mechanism proposed for estrogen inhibition by progesterone in the rodent uterus, or control of estrogen receptor synthesis, as shown by Northern blot analysis of estrogen receptor mRNA.

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