Generation and reproductive phenotypes of mice lacking estrogen receptor β

John H. Krege, Jeffrey B. Hodgin, John F. Couse, Eva Enmark, Margaret Warner, Joel F. Mahler, Madhabananda Sar, Kenneth S. Korach, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Oliver Smithies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1473 Scopus citations


Estrogens influence the differentiation and maintenance of reproductive tissues and affect lipid metabolism and bone remodeling. Two estrogen receptors (ERs) have been identified to date, ERα and ERβ. We previously generated and studied knockout mice lacking estrogen receptor and reported severe reproductive and behavioral phenotypes including complete infertility of both male and female mice and absence of breast tissue development. Here we describe the generation of mice lacking estrogen receptor β (ERβ -/-) by insertion of a neomycin resistance gene into exon 3 of the coding gene by using homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells. Mice lacking this receptor develop normally and are indistinguishable grossly and histologically as young adults from their littermates. RNA analysis and immunocytochemistry show that tissues from ERβ -/- mice lack normal ERβ RNA and protein. Breeding experiments with young, sexually mature females show that they are fertile and exhibit normal sexual behavior, but have fewer and smaller litters than wild-type mice. Superovulation experiments indicate that this reduction in fertility is the result of reduced ovarian efficiency. The mutant females have normal breast development and lactate normally. Young, sexually mature male mice show no overt abnormalities and reproduce normally. Older mutant males display signs of prostate and bladder hyperplasia. Our results indicate that ERβ is essential for normal ovulation efficiency but is not essential for female or male sexual differentiation, fertility, or lactation. Future experiments are required to determine the role of ERβ in bone and cardiovascular homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15677-15682
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 22 1998


  • Estrogen action
  • Fertility
  • Folliculogenesis
  • Gene targeting
  • Ovary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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