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Phytoestrogens from red clover

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An expression system that utilized yeast copper metallothionein promoter and ubiquitin fusion technology to express the human estrogen receptor gene in yeast is described. We have studied the biochemical and transcriptional regulatory properties of the human estrogen receptor. The biochemical properties of the yeast expressed receptors are identical to the receptors isolated from human tissue. Estradiol mediated activation of transcription by the receptor was studied by a reporter beta-galactosidase gene where expression was under the control of estrogen response elements. Using this expression system and a hyperpermeable yeast strain we have studied the effects of various antiestrogens on the regulation of estrogen receptor function. We demonstrate that tamoxifen and ICI 164,384 are capable of binding to the receptor but neither antiestrogen was able to block the estradiol mediated increase in transcription. In fact, both antiestrogens exerted weak agonist activity in this system.
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An in vitro test system for the determination of estrogens, xeno- and phytoestrogens, based on the activation of human estrogen receptor-alpha, has been examined for ability in monitoring environmental estrogens. The system consists of an expression plasmid for the human estrogen receptor-alpha and a reporter plasmid containing the lacZ gene under the control of the vitellogenin hormone response element. These plasmids have been transformed into S. cerevisae. Cultivation of yeast in the presence of estrogenic substances leads to activation of the estrogen receptor and induces the expression of the reporter lacZ. beta-Galactosidase activity of the translated gene lacZ is a measure of the estrogenic activity of a compound. First, the selectivity of the system was compared to data available in the literature. Then the sensitivity of the system was checked. The detection limit is 0.1 ng 17-beta estradiol or an equivalent activity per liter, if a sample can be concentrated 1000-fold. The system has been further characterized by selected compounds with known and unknown estrogenic activity.