Interactions Between Estrogen and EGF in Uterine Growth and Function
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The rat uterus contains specific, high-affinity EGF receptors which possess a tyrosine kinase activity. As demonstrated autoradiographically, these receptors are present in the epithelial, stromal and myometrial cells of the uterus. Estrogen treatment in vivo produces a 2-3-fold increase in EGF receptor levels in the immature rat, the immature mouse and the ovariectomized adult rat; furthermore, EGF receptor levels vary throughout the estrus cycle in concert with levels of occupied nuclear estrogen receptor. This estrogen-induced increase in EGF receptor is preceded by an increase in the level of EGF receptor mRNA as judged by Northern blot analysis. In general, there is a good correlation between estrogen-induced DNA synthesis and EGF receptor levels in the uterus, although in certain situations EGF receptor levels are elevated without a subsequent increase in DNA synthesis. These observations suggest that an increase in tissue EGF receptor levels is important in estrogen-induced uterine growth, but that this increase in receptor levels alone is not sufficient to stimulate DNA synthesis. In addition to its possible role in tissue growth, we have shown very recently that EGF causes contraction of myometrial smooth muscle in a completely in vitro organ bath system. The qualitative nature of this contractile response is distinct from that produced by other classical uterotonic agents. The physiological significance of this uterine response to EGF remains to be elucidated.
KeywordsEpidermal Growth Factor Receptor Epidermal Growth Factor Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Kinase Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor mRNA Epidermal Growth Factor Binding
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