Activin regulates estrogen receptor gene expression in the mouse ovary

Jingjing L. Kipp, Signe M. Kilen, Teresa K. Woodruff, Kelly E. Mayo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Activin, a member of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, is an important modulator of follicle-stimulating hormone synthesis and secretion in the pituitary and plays autocrine/paracrine roles in the regulation of ovarian follicle development. From a microarray study on mouse ovarian granulosa cells, we discovered that the estrogen receptor β (ERβ) is inducible by activin. We previously demonstrated that estrogen suppresses activin gene expression, suggesting a feedback relationship between these two follicle-regulating hormones. The purpose of this study was to investigate fully activin A regulation of ER expression. Real time reverse transcription-PCR assays on cultured granulosa cells showed that both ERα and ERβ mRNAs were induced by activin A at 4, 12, and 24 h in a dose-responsive manner. Western blots confirmed an increase in their protein levels. Consistent with increased ERα and ERβ expression, activin A stimulated estradiol-induced estrogen response element promoter activity. Activin A stimulation of ER expression was a direct effect at the level of gene transcription, as it was not abolished by cycloheximide but was abolished by actinomycin D, and in transfected granulosa cells activin A stimulated ERα promoter activity. To investigate the effect of activin in vivo and, thus, its biological significance, we examined ER expression in inhibin transgenic mice that have decreased activin expression and discovered that these mice had decreased ERα and ERβ expression in the ovary. We also found that ER mRNA levels were decreased in Müllerian inhibiting substance promoter (MIS)-Smad2 dominant negative mice that have impaired activin signaling through Smad2, and small interfering RNAs targeting Smad2 or Smad3 suppressed ERα promoter activation, suggesting that Smad2 and Smad3 are involved in regulating ER levels. Therefore, this study reveals an important role for activin in inducing the expression of ERs in the mouse ovary and suggests important interplay between activin and estrogen signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36755-36765
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 14 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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