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DJ Grant, H Shi, and CT Teng

We have previously examined the regulatory region of the mouse lactoferrin gene and have identified sequences essential for basal and hormonally induced expression. In this study, we explore the relationship between the methylation state of the mouse lactoferrin gene promoter and its expression in selected mouse tissues. In a transient expression system, transcriptional activity was blocked after in vitro methylation of the regulatory region of the mouse lactoferrin gene. In addition, the in vivo methylation state of three promoter region sites was assessed using Southern blot analysis of DNA digested with methylation-insensitive and -sensitive restriction enzymes. The results showed that site -455, upstream of the mouse lactoferrin estrogen response module, was highly unmethylated in DNA from both hormone-treated and -untreated mouse lung, liver, and spleen tissues. Also, in both treated and untreated samples, the -54 site is uniquely highly unmethylated in liver DNA, while the -22 site is unmethylated in spleen DNA. Northern blot analysis showed lactoferrin expression in tissues that were unmethylated at a minimum of two sites. These results show that the alteration of the methylation status of the three sites are tissue-specific and are associated with constitutive expression of lactoferrin.

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H Shigeta, W Zuo, N Yang, R DiAugustine, and CT Teng

Estrogen receptor-related orphan receptor alpha 1 is a member of the steroid/thyroid nuclear receptor superfamily. We have previously cloned the human estrogen receptor-related orphan receptor alpha 1 (hERR alpha 1) cDNA and demonstrated that it enhances estrogen responsiveness of the lactoferrin gene promoter in transfected human endometrial carcinoma cells. In the present study, we used the hERR alpha 1 cDNA as a probe and isolated the mouse homologue of ERR alpha 1 from the cDNA libraries of the brain and kidney. Sequence comparison between human and mouse ERR alpha 1 (mERR alpha 1) revealed that the homologies are 89% in nucleotides and 97% in amino acids. By electrophoresis mobility shift assay, we showed that the glutathione S-transferase-mERR alpha 1 fusion protein produced in a bacterial system bound to the human ERR alpha 1 DNA-binding element. Mouse uterine nuclear extract also interacted with this DNA element and produced three complexes in the mobility shift assay, one of which was supershifted by the hERR alpha 1 antiserum. A 2.2 kbp transcript was detected by Northern analysis in all adult mouse tissues tested; however, large variations in the amount of ERR alpha 1 mRNA were found among them. Multiple immunoreactive forms of mouse ERR alpha 1 were detected by Western analysis in non-reproductive tissues, whereas a major 53 kDa protein was found in reproductive tissues such as uterus, cervix and vagina. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) stimulated the expression of ERR alpha 1 mRNA in the uterus of 19-day-old mouse. We showed that DES and estradiol, but not progesterone or dexamethasone, enhanced the level of immunoreactive ERR alpha 1 in the mouse uterus. These results demonstrated that the ERR alpha 1 is an estrogen-responsive gene in the mouse uterus and provides a model system with which to study the biological roles of this nuclear orphan receptor.