The mouse IGF-I gene contains six exons, and exon 1 and exon 2 gene are considered to be leader exons. The regulatory mechanism of alternative usage of the leader exons is unclear in mice. The present study was aimed at clarifying changes in class 1 (derived from exon 1) and class 2 (derived from exon 2) IGF-I mRNA expression in mice under various conditions. Both class 1 and class 2 IGF-I mRNAs were expressed in the mouse uterus, liver and kidney, and class 1 IGF-I mRNA was the major transcript in all organs studied. In the uterus, both class 1 and class 2 IGF-I mRNA expression changed markedly during the estrous cycle, with the highest level at proestrus, but in the liver and kidney there were no significant changes in IGF-I mRNA expression during the estrous cycle. Estrogen treatment increased both class 1 and class 2 IGF-I mRNA levels in the uterus of ovariectomized mice, but class 1 mRNA expression increased more in response to estrogen treatment than class 2 mRNA expression. These findings suggest that estrogen stimulates IGF-I gene expression in uterine cells, and that a promoter involved in transcription of class 1 IGF-I mRNA is more responsive to estrogen. In conclusion, the present study revealed that two leader exons of mouse IGF-I gene are used in the uterus, liver and kidney. IGF-I mRNA levels of both classes changed during the estrous cycle in the uterus, but not in the liver or kidney. Estrogen increased IGF-I mRNA levels of both classes in the uterus.
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