Estrogen is one of the most important signaling molecules which targets a number of genes. Estrogen levels
regulate cell proliferation and a plethora of metabolic processes, which may interfere with a range of medical conditions
and drug metabolism. The MCF7 breast cancer cell line, expressing the estrogen receptor α, is a well-studied model of
cellular answer to estrogen. The aim of this study was to characterize transcriptomic responses to estrogen in a broad time
range. We performed a meta-analysis of microarray data on gene expression in the MCF7 cells under estrogen exposure
and deprivation. As the result we distinguished three major phases of transcriptomic response to stimulation with 17β-
estradiol: the early (1-2 h), with the activation of the MAPK signaling pathway; the intermediate (3-12 h), with enhanced
expression of genes participating in cell surface receptor linked signal transduction and cellular homeostasis; and the late
one (24-48 h), with the induction of genes involved in mitotic cell division. Two main phases under estrogen starvation
were indicated as the early (1-3 days), with elevated expression of genes associated with cell projection and repression of
those responsible for cell cycle regulation, and the late (15-180 days), with increased expression of genes of cell adhesion
proteins. The meta-analysis displayed how different gene sets are either induced or repressed following either estrogen
exposure or deprivation, and how the gene expression changes are orchestrated by estrogen in time dependent manner, indicating
that proper understanding of estrogen impact on transcriptional gene activity requires an extensive time perspective.
Keywords: Estrogen, estradiol, transcriptome, transcription, gene expression regulation, microarray profiling, meta-analysis.
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