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Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2010 Dec;10(6):629-36. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2010.09.009. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

Regulation of specific target genes and biological responses by estrogen receptor subtype agonists.

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Department of Nutritional Science and Toxicology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.


Estrogenic effects are mediated through two estrogen receptor (ER) subtypes, ERα and ERβ. Estrogens are the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat menopausal conditions, but by non-selectively triggering both ERα and ERβ pathways in different tissues they can cause serious adverse effects. The different sizes of the binding pockets and sequences of their activation function domains indicate that ERα and ERβ should have different specificities for ligands and biological responses that can be exploited for designing safer and more selective estrogens. ERα and ERβ regulate different genes by binding to different regulatory elements and recruiting different transcription and chromatin remodeling factors that are expressed in a cell-specific manner. ERα-selective and ERβ-selective agonists have been identified that demonstrate that the two ERs produce distinct biological effects. ERα and ERβ agonists are a promising new approach for treating specific conditions associated with menopause.

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