In seven strains of cultured normal human osteoblast-like cells, a mean of 1615 molecules of tritium-labeled 17β-estradiol per cell nucleus could be bound to specific nuclear sites. The nuclear binding of the labeled steroid was temperature-dependent, steroid-specific, saturable, and cell type-specific. These are characteristics of biologically active estrogen receptors. Pretreatment with 10 nanomolar estradiol in vitro increased the specific nuclear binding of progesterone in four of six cell strains, indicating an induction of functional progesterone receptors. RNA blot analysis demonstrated the presence of messenger RNA for the human estrogen receptor. The data suggest that estrogen acts directly on human bone cells through a classical estrogen receptor-mediated mechanism.
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