Progesterone receptor regulates Bcl-2 gene expression through direct binding to its promoter region in uterine leiomyoma cells

Ping Yin, Zhihong Lin, You Hong Cheng, Erica E. Marsh, Hiroki Utsunomiya, Hiroshi Ishikawa, Qing Xue, Scott Reierstad, Joy Innes, Stephen Thung, J. Julie Kim, Eugene Xu, Serdar E. Bulun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Uterine leiomyomas are smooth muscle cell tumors that cause irregular uterine bleeding and pregnancy loss in many reproductive-age women. Progesterone stimulates their growth, whereas treatment with progesterone receptor (PR) antagonists or selective progesterone receptor modulators shrinks these tumors. Molecular mechanisms underlying these observations are unknown. Objective: Bcl-2 is a key protein that inhibits apoptosis. It was proposed that growth enhancement of leiomyoma cells by progesterone was mediated via bcl-2 induction. Here we test the hypothesis that PR regulates the bcl-2 gene by directly binding to its promoter. Results: The pure progesterone agonist R5020 increased the total number of viable primary human leiomyoma smooth muscle (LSM) cells in culture. Progesterone or R5020 (10-6 M) significantly increased bcl-2 mRNA levels after 2 and 4 h by 9.2- and 3.4-fold, respectively, in LSM cells. Transient transfection with deletion mutants of bcl-2 promoter showed that the -1281/-258-bp region conferred responsiveness to progesterone induction in the presence of PR-A. We identified a palindromic progesterone response element (PRE) at -553/-539 bp. EMSA showed that PR in nuclear extracts from LSM cells bound specifically to this PRE. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR confirmed in situ recruitment of PR to the -629/-388-bp region bearing the PRE. In vivo, bcl-2 mRNA levels correlated significantly with total PR mRNA levels in leiomyoma tissues. Conclusion: Taken together, progesterone via PR interacts with the bcl-2 promoter to induce its expression in leiomyoma tissue. This may explain, in part, the progesterone-dependent enhancement of growth in uterine leiomyoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4459-4466
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Nov
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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