Epithelial estrogen receptor 1 intrinsically mediates squamous differentiation in the mouse vagina

Shinichi Miyagawa, Taisen Iguchi

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Estrogen-mediated actions in female reproductive organs are tightly regulated, mainly through estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1). The mouse vaginal epithelium cyclically exhibits cell proliferation and differentiation in response to estrogen and provides a unique model for analyzing the homeostasis of stratified squamous epithelia. To address the role of ESR1-mediated tissue events during homeostasis, we analyzed mice with a vaginal epitheliumspecific knockout of Esr1 driven by keratin 5-Cre (K5-Esr1KO). We show here that loss of epithelial ESR1 in the vagina resulted in aberrant epithelial cell proliferation in the suprabasal cell layers and led to failure of keratinized differentiation. Gene expression analysis showed that several known estrogen target genes, including erbB growth factor ligands, were not induced by estrogen in the K5-Esr1KO mouse vagina. Organ culture experiments revealed that the addition of erbB growth factor ligands, such as amphiregulin, could activate keratinized differentiation in the absence of epithelial ESR1. Thus, epithelial ESR1 integrates estrogen and growth factor signaling to mediate regulation of cell proliferation in squamous differentiation, and our results provide new insights into estrogen-mediated homeostasis in female reproductive organs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12986-12991
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2015



  • Amphiregulin
  • Epithelium
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Keratinization
  • Vagina

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