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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e48311. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048311. Epub 2012 Oct 29.

Dose-related estrogen effects on gene expression in fetal mouse prostate mesenchymal cells.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, United States of America.


Developmental exposure of mouse fetuses to estrogens results in dose-dependent permanent effects on prostate morphology and function. Fetal prostatic mesenchyme cells express estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and androgen receptors and convert stimuli from circulating estrogens and androgens into paracrine signaling to regulate epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation. To obtain mechanistic insight into the role of different doses of estradiol (E2) in regulating mesenchymal cells, we examined E2-induced transcriptomal changes in primary cultures of fetal mouse prostate mesenchymal cells. Urogenital sinus mesenchyme cells were obtained from male mouse fetuses at gestation day 17 and exposed to 10 pM, 100 pM or 100 nM E2 in the presence of a physiological concentration of dihydrotestosterone (0.69 nM) for four days. Gene ontology studies suggested that low doses of E2 (10 pM and 100 pM) induce genes involved in morphological tissue development and sterol biosynthesis but suppress genes involved in growth factor signaling. Genes involved in cell adhesion were enriched among both up-regulated and down-regulated genes. Genes showing inverted-U-shape dose responses (enhanced by E2 at 10 pM E2 but suppressed at 100 pM) were enriched in the glycolytic pathway. At the highest dose (100 nM), E2 induced genes enriched for cell adhesion, steroid hormone signaling and metabolism, cytokines and their receptors, cell-to-cell communication, Wnt signaling, and TGF- β signaling. These results suggest that prostate mesenchymal cells may regulate epithelial cells through direct cell contacts when estrogen level is low whereas secreted growth factors and cytokines might play significant roles when estrogen level is high.

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