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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jun 30;275(26):20061-8.

The mouse mammary tumor virus promoter adopts distinct chromatin structures in human breast cancer cells with and without glucocorticoid receptor.

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Chromatin and Gene Expression Section, Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology, NIEHS, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Steroid receptors represent a class of transcription regulators that act in part by overcoming the often repressive nature of chromatin to modulate gene activity. The mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) promoter is a useful model for studying transcriptional regulation by steroid hormone receptors in the context of chromatin. The chromatin architecture of the promoter prevents the assembly of basal transcription machinery and binding of ubiquitous transcription factors. However, in human breast carcinoma T47D cells lacking the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), but expressing the progesterone receptor (PR), nucleosome B (nuc B) assumes a constitutively hypersensitive chromatin structure. This correlation led us to test the hypothesis that the chromatin structure of nuc B was dependent on GR expression in T47D cells. To examine this possibility, we stably co-transfected the MMTV promoter and the GR into T47D cells that lacked both the GR and the PR. We found that in T47D cells that lack both the GR and the PR or express only the GR, nuc B assumes a constitutively "open" chromatin structure, which allows hormone independent access by restriction endonucleases and transcription factors. These results suggest that in GR(+)/pr(-) T47D cells, the MMTV chromatin structure permits GR transcriptional activation, independent of chromatin remodeling.

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