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J Clin Invest. 1998 Nov 15;102(10):1850-9.

Estrogen blocks M-CSF gene expression and osteoclast formation by regulating phosphorylation of Egr-1 and its interaction with Sp-1.

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Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Central to the pathogenesis of osteoporosis is the ability of estrogen deficiency to increase osteoclast formation by enhancing stromal cell production of the osteoclastogenic cytokine macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF). We report that stromal cells from ovariectomized mice exhibit increased casein kinase II-dependent phosphorylation of the nuclear protein Egr-1. Phosphorylated Egr-1 binds less avidly to the transcriptional activator Sp-1 and the resulting higher levels of free Sp-1 stimulate transactivation of the M-CSF gene. Estrogen replacement fails to block M-CSF mRNA expression and osteoclast formation in ovariectomized mice lacking Egr-1, confirming the critical role played by this transcription factor in mediating the antiosteoclastogenic effects of estrogen. Thus, by downregulating formation of a novel Egr-1/Sp-1 complex in stromal cells, estrogen deficiency results in enhanced levels of free Sp-1 and increased M-CSF gene expression and osteoclast formation.

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