Estrogen regulates development of the somatic cell phenotype in the eutherian ovary.
ABSTRACT Steroids play a critical role in gonadal differentiation in birds, reptiles, and amphibia whereas gonadal differentiation in mammals is thought to be determined by genetic mechanisms. The gonads of female mice incapable of synthesizing estrogens due to disruption of the aromatase gene (ArKO) provide a unique model to test the role of estrogen in regulating the gonadal phenotype. We have shown that in the absence of estrogen, genetically female mice develop testicular tissue within their ovaries. The ovaries develop cells that possess structural and functional characteristics of testicular interstitial cells and of seminiferous tubule-like structures lined with Sertoli cells. Moreover, the ovaries express mRNA for the testis-specific Sertoli cell transcription factor Sox 9 and espin protein, which is specific for inter-Sertoli cell junctions. The development of the testicular tissue in this model can be reverted/postponed by replacing estrogen. When ArKO female mice were fed a diet containing phytoestrogens, the appearance of Leydig and Sertoli cells was postponed and reduced. Furthermore, administration of estradiol-17beta decreased the number of Sertoli and Leydig cells in the ovaries. These findings constitute definitive evidence that estrogen plays a critical role in maintaining female somatic interstitial and granulosa cells in the eutherian ovary.
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ABSTRACT: Estrogen (E) plays a pivotal role in regulating the female reproductive system, particularly the ovary. However, the number and type of ovarian genes influenced by estrogen remain to be fully elucidated. In this study, we have utilized wild-type (WT) and aromatase knockout (ArKO; estrogen free) mouse ovaries as an in vivo model to profile estrogen dependent genes. RNA from each individual ovary (n = 3) was analyzed by a microarray-based screen using Illumina Sentrix Mouse WG-6 BeadChip (45,281 transcripts). Comparative analysis (GeneSpring) showed differential expression profiles of 450 genes influenced by E, with 291 genes up-regulated and 159 down-regulated by 2-fold or greater in the ArKO ovary compared to WT. Genes previously reported to be E regulated in ArKO ovaries were confirmed, in addition to novel genes not previously reported to be expressed or regulated by E in the ovary. Of genes involved in 5 diverse functional processes (hormonal processes, reproduction, sex differentiation and determination, apoptosis and cellular processes) 78 had estrogen-responsive elements (ERE). These analyses define the transcriptome regulated by E in the mouse ovary. Further analysis and investigation will increase our knowledge pertaining to how E influences follicular development and other ovarian functions.PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(2):e14672. · 4.09 Impact Factor