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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Steroid hormones modulate H19 gene expression in both mammary gland and uterus.

H19 is an imprinted and developmentally regulated gene whose product remains apparently untranslated. In a previous study on breast adenocarcinomas, we reported that overexpression of the H19 gene was significantly correlated with the presence of steroid receptors, suggesting the putative role of hormones in H19 transcription. To determine the mode of steroid action, we have detected levels of H19 RNA synthesis during mammary gland development by in situ hybridization (ISH): two peaks of H19 transcription occur during puberty and pregnancy. Furthermore, we demonstrated by ISH that in the uterus H19 RNA synthesis is high during estrus and metestrus phases. To test steroid control of H19 transcription, ovariectomized and adrenalectomized mice were supplemented, 1 week after surgery, with 17-beta-estradiol (E2, 20 microg/kg/day), progesterone ( P, 1 mg/kg/day) or corticosterone (B, 0.3 mg/ kg/day) for 2 weeks. According to ISH data, E2 and to a lesser extent B stimulated H19 transcription in the uterus, whereas P inhibited it. To confirm the in vivo results, in vitro experiments were performed using cultures of MCF-7 cells (a hormone-sensitive mammary cell line). E2 stimulated the endogenous H19 gene of this cell line and tamoxifen inhibited this effect. Furthermore, we performed transient cotransfections in MCF-7, in HBL-100 (another hormone-sensitive mammary cell line) and in BT-20 (a hormone-insensitive mammary cell line) with various constructs of ERalpha (WT or mutated) and PR-A, in presence or absence of steroid hormones. We demonstrated that ERalpha up-regulated the H19 promoter in MCF-7 and in HBL-100, whereas PR-A did not have any effect per se. Moreover, in MCF-7, PR-A antagonized clearly the ERalpha-mediated promoter enhancement, but in HBL-100 this counteracting effect on the ERalpha up-regulation was not found. Interestingly, the same experiments performed in BT-20 cell line provided very similar results as those obtained in MCF-7 cells, with a clear down-regulation mediated by PR-A on the H19 promoter. All these in vitro data are in agreement with in vivo results. In addition, data obtained with ERalpha mutants indicate that H19 promoter activation is both ligand-dependent and ligand-independent. We have thus demonstrated that H19 gene expression is controlled by steroid hormones; furthermore, this gene is highly expressed in hormone-sensitive organs when the hormonal stimulation is accompanied with a morphological repair.[1]


  1. Steroid hormones modulate H19 gene expression in both mammary gland and uterus. Adriaenssens, E., Lottin, S., Dugimont, T., Fauquette, W., Coll, J., Dupouy, J.P., Boilly, B., Curgy, J.J. Oncogene (1999) [Pubmed]
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