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PM Ismail, FJ DeMayo, P Amato, and JP Lydon

Progesterone, via its nuclear receptor, is mandatory not only for the induction and specification of mammary gland ductal side-branching and lobuloalveologenesis but also for carcinogen-induced mammary tumorigenesis. Notwithstanding these recent advances, a more comprehensive molecular explanation of progesterone-induced mammary morphogenesis is contingent upon the identification and characterization of mammary molecular targets that are responsive to the progesterone signal. Toward this goal, we report that calcitonin, a 32 amino acid peptide hormone involved in calcium homeostasis, is exclusively expressed in, and secreted from, luminal epithelial cells within the mammary gland of the pregnant mouse, and, importantly, its expression is progesterone-dependent. Conversely, the calcitonin receptor is present during all stages of post-natal mammary development examined, is localized to the myoepithelial cell lineage, and is not regulated by progesterone. Because calcitonin induction spatiotemporally correlates with increases in progesterone-induced mammary gland proliferation and structural remodeling, we posit that calcitonin - through its receptor - may be involved in one or both of these progesterone-dependent processes.

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P Chieffi, GL Colucci-D'Amato, S Staibano, R Franco, and D Tramontano

Several lines of evidence support a key role of estradiol-17beta (E(2)) in male fertility. We have used a non-mammalian vertebrate model, the frog Rana esculenta, to investigate the regulation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) activity in the testis during the annual sexual cycle and to study whether E(2 )exerts a role in spermatogenesis through the regulation of ERK1/2 activity. ERK1/2 proteins are present in the cytoplasm and nucleus of the primary and secondary spermatogonia (SPG), and in the nucleus of primary spermatocytes. The annual E(2) profile shows a progressive increase during active spermatogenesis with a peak in the month of June. In parallel, ERK1/2 are highly phosphorylated during the period of active spermatogenesis (from April to July) compared with the regressive period (September/October) and winter stasis (from November to March). E(2) treatment induces the proliferation of primary SPG, possibly via the activation of ERK1/2, and this effect is counteracted by the anti-estrogen ICI 182-780.