Journal Article

Gene Expression Profile Induced by 17α-Ethynyl Estradiol in the Prepubertal Female Reproductive System of the Rat

Jorge M. Naciff, Gary J. Overmann, Suzanne M. Torontali, Gregory J. Carr, Jay P. Tiesman, Brian D. Richardson and George P. Daston

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 72, issue 2, pages 314-330
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
Gene Expression Profile Induced by 17α-Ethynyl Estradiol in the Prepubertal Female Reproductive System of the Rat

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The profound effects of 17β-estradiol on cell growth, differentiation, and general homeostasis of the reproductive and other systems, are mediated mostly by regulation of temporal and cell type-specific expression of different genes. In order to understand better the molecular events associated with the activation of the estrogen receptor (ER), we have used microarray technology to determine the transcriptional program and dose-response characteristics of exposure to a potent synthetic estrogen, 17α-ethynyl estradiol (EE), during prepubertal development. Changes in patterns of gene expression were determined in the immature uterus and ovaries of Sprague-Dawley rats on postnatal day (PND) 24, 24 h after exposure to EE, at 0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 1 and 10 μg EE/kg/day (sc), for four days (dosing from PND 20 to 23). The transcript profiles were compared between treatment groups and controls using oligonucleotide arrays to determine the expression level of approximately 7000 annotated rat genes and over 1740 expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Quantification of the number of genes whose expression was modified by the treatment, for each of the various doses of EE tested, showed clear evidence of a dose-dependent treatment effect that follows a monotonic response, concordant with the dose-response pattern of uterine wet-weight gain and luminal epithelial cell height. The number of genes whose expression is affected by EE exposure increases according to dose. At the highest dose tested of EE, we determined that the expression level of over 300 genes was modified significantly (p ≤ 0.0001). A dose-dependent analysis of the transcript profile revealed a set of 88 genes whose expression is significantly and reproducibly modified (increased or decreased) by EE exposure (p ≤ 0.0001). The results of this study demonstrate that, exposure to a potent estrogenic chemical during prepubertal maturation changes the gene expression profile of estrogen-sensitive tissues. Furthermore, the products of the EE-regulated genes identified in these tissues have a physiological role in different intracellular pathways, information that will be valuable to determine the mechanism of action of estrogens. Moreover, those genes could be used as biomarkers to identify chemicals with estrogenic activity.

Keywords: immature rat uterotrophic assay; gene expression profiling; microarrays; 17α-ethynyl estradiol

Journal Article.  11419 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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