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Endocrinology. 2007 Jan;148(1):218-31. Epub 2006 Oct 12.

Estrogen decrease in tight junctional resistance involves matrix-metalloproteinase-7-mediated remodeling of occludin.

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Department of Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Estrogen modulates tight junctional resistance through estrogen receptor-alpha-mediated remodeling of occludin. The objective of the study was to understand the mechanisms involved. Experiments using human normal vaginal-cervical epithelial cells showed that human normal vaginal-cervical epithelial cells secrete constitutively matrix-metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7) into the luminal solution and that MMP-7 is necessary and sufficient to produce estrogen decrease of tight junctional resistance and remodeling of occludin. Treatment with estrogen stimulated activation of the pro-MMP-7 intracellularly and augmented secretion of the activated MMP-7 form. Steady-state levels of MMP-7 mRNA and protein were not affected by estrogen. Estrogen modulated phosphorylation of the MMP-7, but the changes were most likely secondary to changes in cellular MMP-7 mass. Estrogen increased coimmunoreactivity of MMP-7 with the Golgi protein GPP130. Tunicamycin and brefeldin-A had no effect on cellular MMP-7 but monensin (inhibitor of Golgi traffic) blocked estrogen effects, suggesting estrogen site of action is at the Golgi system. Estrogen increased generalized secretory activity, including of luminal exocytosis of polycarbohydrates. However, estrogen increased coimmunoreactivity of MMP-7 with synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa in apical membranes, suggesting soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive fusion factor attachment protein receptor-facilitated exocytosis of MMP-7. Treatment with the vesicular-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin A(1) inhibited activation of MMP-7. These data suggest that estrogen up-regulates activation of the MMP-7 intracellularly, at the level of Golgi, and augments secretion of activated MMP-7 through soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive fusion factor attachment protein receptor-dependent exocytosis. On the other hand, estrogen acidification of the luminal solution would tend to alkalinize exocytotic vesicles and may lead to decreased activation of the MMP-7. These mechanisms acting in concert could be important for regulation and control of estrogen modulation of paracellular permeability in vivo.

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