We recently described the establishment and the characterization of two rat endometrial adenocarcinoma cell lines which we called RUCA-I and RUCA-II. Despite fairly high estrogen receptor levels neither cell line responded to estradiol in conventional cell culture conditions on plastic and in the presence of serum. A limited hormonal response to the antiestrogen tamoxifen was detectable in RUCA-I but not in RUCA-II cells. To advance our cell culture conditions we plated RUCA-I cells on a layer of reconstituted basement membrane (Harbor Matrix) in the presence of a serum-free defined medium. These cell culture conditions induced hormone responsiveness of RUCA-I cells and permitted a stimulation of proliferation by estradiol. Further, two estradiol-induced secretory proteins with an apparent molecular weight of 115 kD and 60 kD could be identified by SDS-gelelectrophoresis if analyzed under reducing conditions. These proteins migrated as a single band in a non-reducing electrophoresis gel and were identified as components of the complement C3 system. Additionally, our results suggest that the effects of extracellular matrix and hormones on the expression of these proteins are additive. We conclude that processes of functional differentiation are most likely to occur in this in vitro model, particularly since the expression of components of the complement C3 system was under estrogenic control. Complement C3 proteins represent major estradiol-inducible secretory protein of the immature rat uterus in vivo. Culturing RUCA-I cells on top of a layer of reconstituted basement membrane provides a novel tool to study the importance of the extracellular environment on the hormone-induced gene expression in endometrial carcinogenesis in vitro. © 1995.
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