Regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene transcription by estrogen receptors α and β

Michael D. Mueller, Jean Louis Vigne, Alexander Minchenko, Dan I. Lebovic, Dale C. Leitman, Robert N. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

312 Scopus citations


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mediates angiogenic activity in a variety of estrogen target tissues. To determine whether estrogen has a direct transcriptional effect on VEGF gene expression, we developed a model system by transiently transfecting human VEGF promoter-luciferase reporter constructs into primary human endometrial cells and into Ishikawa cells, derived from a well-differentiated human endometrial adenocarcinoma. In primary endometrial epithelial cells, treatment with 17β-estradiol (E2) resulted in a 3.8-fold increase in luciferase activity, whereas a 3.2-fold induction was demonstrated for stromal cells. Our Ishikawa cells had less than 100 functional estrogen receptors (ER)/cell and were therefore cotransfected with expression vectors encoding either the α- or the β-form of the human ER. In cells cotransfected with ERα, E2 induced 3,2-fold induction in VEGF-promoter luciferase activity. A 2.3-fold increase was observed in cells cotransfected with ERβ. Through specific deletions, the E2 response was restricted to a single 385-bp Pvull-Sstl fragment in the 5' flanking DNA. Cotransfection of this upstream region with a DNA binding domain ER mutant, or site-directed mutagenesis of a variant ERE within this fragment, resulted in the loss of the E2 response. Electromobility shift assays demonstrated that this same ERE sequence specifically binds estradiol-ER complexes. These studies demonstrate that E2-regulated VEGF gene transcription requires a variant ERE located 1.5 kb upstream from the transcriptional start site. Site-directed mutagenesis of this ERE abrogated E2-induced VEGF gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10972-10977
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - Sep 26 2000


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