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Mol Endocrinol. 2004 Dec;18(12):3035-49. Epub 2004 Sep 9.

Canonical Wnt signaling is critical to estrogen-mediated uterine growth.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, D-4105 Medical Center North, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 1161 21st Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2678, USA.


Major biological effects of estrogen in the uterus are thought to be primarily mediated by nuclear estrogen receptors, ERalpha and ERbeta. We show here that estrogen in an ER-independent manner rapidly up-regulates the expression of Wnt4 and Wnt5a of the Wnt family and frizzled-2 of the Wnt receptor family in the mouse uterus. One of the mechanisms by which Wnts mediate canonical signaling involves stabilization of intracellular beta-catenin. We observed that estrogen treatment prompts nuclear localization of active beta-catenin in the uterine epithelium. We also found that adenovirus mediated in vivo delivery of SFRP-2, a Wnt antagonist, down-regulates estrogen-dependent beta-catenin activity without affecting some of the early effects (water imbibition and angiogenic markers) and inhibits uterine epithelial cell growth, suggesting that canonical Wnt signaling is critical to estrogen-induced uterine growth. Our present results provide evidence for a novel role of estrogen that targets early Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in an ER-independent manner to regulate the late uterine growth response that is ER dependent.

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