The Effects of Diethylstilbestrol on Embryonic Development
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Estrogen plays a key role in the regulation of gene transcription. This is accomplished by its ability to act as a ligand and to bind to specific estrogen receptor (ER) molecules, such as ERα and ERβ, which act as nuclear transcription factors. There are three major nuclear estrogen receptor protein domains: the estrogen binding domain, the protein interaction domain, and the DNA binding domain. The domain responsible for the regulation of transcription is the DNA binding domain, which binds to DNA sequences called estrogen-responsive elements (EREs), found in enhancer regions of specific genes. By the binding of estrogen or an estrogen mimic to these enhancers, the target genes become activated and the proteins produced are involved in numerous cellular processes. With an estrogen mimic or xenoestrogen, such as diethylstilbestrol (DES), the negative regulation of certain genes during embryonic development can be devastating to the developing anatomy, especially the reproductive system.