Gap junction modulation in rat uterus. III. Structure-activity relationships of estrogen receptor-binding ligands on myometrial and serosal cells.
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A number of steroidal and nonsteroidal estrogen receptor-binding ligands were tested for their ability to affect the formation and internalization of gap junctions in hypophysectomized rat uterine myometrial and serosal cells. Potent estrogen, including diethylstilbestrol, estradiol benzoate (EB), estradiol-17 beta, and the weak estrogens, estriol and estrone, stimulate formation of macular and annular gap junctions in myometrium in a dose-dependent fashion when administered in daily injections over 5 days. Induction of annular gap junctions in the uterine serosal epithelium follows a similar dose-dependent pattern of estrogen stimulation but requires lower levels of hormone to initiate the response. In myometrium, differential stimulation of circular and longitudinal myometrial cell layers was observed, with 3 to 5 times more gap junctions detected in the circular than in the longitudinal layer. Progesterone, estriol, or estrone suppress the myometrial gap junction response to EB when administered concurrently with EB. However, the EB-stimulated appearance of myometrial cell gap junctions was blocked when the progesterone-to-estrogen ratio exceeded 100:1. The estrogen receptor-binding androgens, 5 alpha-androstane-3 beta,17 beta-diol (Adiol) and delta 5-androstene-3 beta,17 beta-diol failed to induce myometrial gap junctions at doses up to 5 mg/day for 5 days, whereas Adiol did induce annular gap junctions in the serosal cells at the highest dosage tested. Of the triphenylethylene derivatives and related compounds evaluated, including mixed isomers of tamoxifen and CI 628, the cis (zuclomiphene, ZUC) and trans (enclomiphene) isomers of clomiphene citrate, and a fixed-ring antiestrogen, nafoxidine, only ZUC was able to induce gap junctions in myometrial and serosal cells. These studies indicate that induction of gap junctions in rat uterine myometrial cells is an estrogen-dependent response that requires higher levels of estrogen than other estrogen-dependent target cell responses in the rodent uterus.