Author(s): Bayliss J, Hilger A, Vishnu P, Diehl K, ElAshry D
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Abstract PURPOSE: In breast cancer, the presence of estrogen receptor alpha (ER) denotes a better prognosis and response to antiestrogen therapy. Lack of ERalpha correlates with overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor or c-erbB-2. We have shown that hyperactivation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) directly represses ERalpha expression in a reversible manner. In this study, we determine if inhibition of MAPK in established ERalpha(-) breast cancer cell lines and tumors results in reexpression of ERalpha, and further, if reexpression of ERalpha in these ERalpha(-) tumors and cell lines could restore antiestrogen responses. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Established ERalpha(-) breast cancer cell lines, ERalpha(-) breast tumors, and tumor cell cultures obtained from ERalpha(-) tumors were used in this study. Inhibition of hyperactive MAPK was accomplished via the MAPK/ERK kinase 1/2 inhibitor U0126 or via upstream inhibition with Iressa or Herceptin. Western blotting or reverse transcription-PCR for ERalpha was used to assess the reexpression of ERalpha in cells treated with U0126. Growth assays with WST-1 were done to assess restoration of antiestrogen sensitivity in these cells. RESULTS: Inhibition of MAPK activity in ERalpha(-) breast cancer cell lines results in reexpression of ERalpha; upstream inhibition via targeting epidermal growth factor receptor or c-erbB-2 is equally effective. Importantly, this reexpressed ERalpha can now mediate an antiestrogen response in a subset of these ERalpha(-) breast cancer cell lines. Treatment of ERalpha(-) tumor specimens with MAPK inhibitors results in restoration of ERalpha mRNA, and similarly in epithelial cultures from ERalpha(-) tumors, MAPK inhibition restores both ERalpha protein and antiestrogen response. CONCLUSIONS: These data show both the possibility of restoring ERalpha expression and antiestrogen responses in ERalpha(-) breast cancer and suggest that there exist ERalpha(-) breast cancer patients who would benefit from a combined MAPK inhibition/hormonal therapy.
This article was published in Clin Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Autacoids and Hormones