Development of an ER action indicator mouse for the study of estrogens, selective ER modulators (SERMs), and Xenobiotics

Endocrinology. 2001 Nov;142(11):4721-8. doi: 10.1210/endo.142.11.8471.


We have developed a transgenic mouse that functions as a reporter of ER activity, termed ER action indicator (ERIN), by incorporating a transgene with an estrogen-responsive promoter (three copies of the vitellogenin estrogen response element with a minimal thymidine kinase promoter) linked to the reporter gene beta-galactosidase. Evaluation of ER activity in female ERIN mice demonstrated estrogen-inducible expression of the reporter gene in the uterus, pituitary, and hypothalamus; established targets of estrogen action. Importantly, we also identified ER activity in a number of nonclassical estrogen target tissues, including kidney, liver, adrenal, and thyroid gland. ERIN provides a system to measure the same end point (transgene regulation) in different target tissues, permitting separation of the contributions of cell- and promoter-specific factors in determining ER pharmacology. In this regard we observed that on this specific promoter the pituitary gland was 25-fold more sensitive than the uterus to the estrogen diethylstilbestrol, implying the existence of cell-specific factors that influence ligand sensitivity. Our studies also identified considerable difference in the efficacy and potency of ER ligands in the uterus when ER transcriptional activity was assayed vs. uterine weight gain. Specifically, we observed that the environmental estrogen bisphenol A was a potent agonist in stimulating ER transcriptional activity, whereas it exhibited little uterotropic activity. In contrast to bisphenol A, tamoxifen significantly increased uterine weight, but minimally induced ER reporter activity in this tissue. Given the results of these studies, we believe that ERIN will be a useful model to evaluate ER ligand pharmacology and will assist in defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine agonist and antagonist activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Diethylstilbestrol / pharmacology
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter / drug effects
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic / genetics*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / pharmacology*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Uterus / anatomy & histology
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacology*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Estrogens
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Ligands
  • Phenols
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Xenobiotics
  • Tamoxifen
  • Diethylstilbestrol
  • bisphenol A