Our study focused on investigating the mechanism of action of estrogen in regulating p53 levels within osteoblasts. In the studies reported here, we attempted to understand the role of estrogen receptors, ER-alpha and ER-beta, in the regulation of p53 and osteoblast differentiation. We stably expressed ER-alpha and ER-beta in ROS 17/2.8 cells and isolated several single cell clones. These clones were initially characterized for expression of the exogenous receptors, and representative clones from each type were chosen for further analyses. Cell proliferation, alkaline phosphatase activity, and the viability of these clones in culture were tested. The cells expressing exogenous ER-alpha exhibited more differentiated characteristics than cells expressing ER-beta. Morphologically, ER-beta–overexpressing cells were more rounded than the ER-alpha–overexpressing cells, which were more elongated and fibroblastic in appearance. The ER-beta–expressing cells had a higher survival and growth rate when compared with ER-alpha cells. The ER-alpha clones were not as viable as ER-beta clones, and some of the ER-alpha cell lines showed signs of senescence, with an increase in senescence-associated (SA) galactosidase activity. The basal levels of p53 functional activity were higher in cells expressing ER-alpha as was protein expression of the p53-regulated gene p21. The significance of these receptors to osteoblast differentiation and p53 regulation is discussed.
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