The effects of estrogen, progesterone and estrogen + progesterone combined on nuclear transcriptional processes in oviducts of immature chicks, previously withdrawn from estrogen, are reported. The responses to the steroids of the endogenous nuclear RNA polymerase activities, both nucleolar (I) and nucleoplasmic (II), the chromatin compositions and template capacities, and the appearance of ovalbumin messenger RNA (mRNA) are compared. When immature chicks (previously treated for 14 days with estrogen) are withdrawn from estrogen treatment, there is a gradual reduction in both polymerase activities. Diurnal variations in polymerase II activities in the oviduct of withdrawn chicks required that subsequent experiments include time-matched controls. The hormones alter RNA polymerase I and II activities in vivo as assayed in isolated nuclei. Progesterone represses the polymerase I and II activities, while estrogen alone and estrogen + progesterone enhance both polymerase activities immediately after injection. Diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen, causes changes similar to those of estrogen. The effects of these steroids on the polymerases are detected within 15 min of hormone injection. Changes in the capacities of chromatins to serve as template for RNA synthesis in general correlated with changes in polymerase II activities. Interestingly, in the case of estrogen treatment, the acidic chromatin protein (but not histone) levels fluctuate positively with the template capacities of the chromatin. An antagonism between estrogen and progesterone is observed in the responses of both RNA polymerases I and II activities as well as in the chromatin template capacity. Levels of messenger RNA coding for ovalbumin, as detected by hybridization with labeled complementary DNA, increase in oviducts of withdrawn chicks within 2-3 h of the injection of estrogen, progesterone or estrogen + progesterone. This rapid accumulation of ovalbumin mRNA is not accompanied in each case by a similar increase in polymerase II activity or chromatin template capacity.
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