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J Biol Chem. 2013 Mar 29;288(13):9035-48. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.405456. Epub 2013 Jan 29.

Estrogen receptor α mediates proliferation of osteoblastic cells stimulated by estrogen and mechanical strain, but their acute down-regulation of the Wnt antagonist Sost is mediated by estrogen receptor β.

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School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS40 5DU, United Kingdom.


Mechanical strain and estrogens both stimulate osteoblast proliferation through estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated effects, and both down-regulate the Wnt antagonist Sost/sclerostin. Here, we investigate the differential effects of ERα and -β in these processes in mouse long bone-derived osteoblastic cells and human Saos-2 cells. Recruitment to the cell cycle following strain or 17β-estradiol occurs within 30 min, as determined by Ki-67 staining, and is prevented by the ERα antagonist 1,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)-4-methyl-5-[4-(2-piperidinylethoxy)phenol]-1H-pyrazole dihydrochloride. ERβ inhibition with 4-[2-phenyl-5,7-bis(trifluoromethyl)pyrazolo[1,5-β]pyrimidin-3-yl] phenol (PTHPP) increases basal proliferation similarly to strain or estradiol. Both strain and estradiol down-regulate Sost expression, as does in vitro inhibition or in vivo deletion of ERα. The ERβ agonists 2,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)-propionitrile and ERB041 also down-regulated Sost expression in vitro, whereas the ERα agonist 4,4',4″-[4-propyl-(1H)-pyrazol-1,3,5-triyl]tris-phenol or the ERβ antagonist PTHPP has no effect. Tamoxifen, a nongenomic ERβ agonist, down-regulates Sost expression in vitro and in bones in vivo. Inhibition of both ERs with fulvestrant or selective antagonism of ERβ, but not ERα, prevents Sost down-regulation by strain or estradiol. Sost down-regulation by strain or ERβ activation is prevented by MEK/ERK blockade. Exogenous sclerostin has no effect on estradiol-induced proliferation but prevents that following strain. Thus, in osteoblastic cells the acute proliferative effects of both estradiol and strain are ERα-mediated. Basal Sost down-regulation follows decreased activity of ERα and increased activity of ERβ. Sost down-regulation by strain or increased estrogens is mediated by ERβ, not ERα. ER-targeting therapy may facilitate structurally appropriate bone formation by enhancing the distinct ligand-independent, strain-related contributions to proliferation of both ERα and ERβ.

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