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1.  Cellular reprogramming by the conjoint action of ERα, FOXA1, and GATA3 to a ligand-inducible growth state 
Estrogen receptor α (ERα), FOXA1, and GATA3 form a functional enhanceosome in MCF-7 breast carcinoma cell that is significantly associated with active transcriptional features such as enhanced p300 co-activator and RNA Pol II recruitment as well as chromatin opening.The enhanceosome exerts significant impact and optimal transcriptional control in the regulation of E2-responsive genes.The presence of FOXA1 and GATA3 is indispensable in restoring the ERα growth-response machinery in the ERα-negative cells and recapitulating the appropriate expression cassette.
Estrogen receptor α (ERα) is a ligand-inducible hormone nuclear receptor that has important physiology and pathology roles in reproduction, cancer, and cardiovascular biology. The regulation of ERα involves its binding to the DNA recognition sequence also known as estrogen-response elements (EREs) and recruits a variety of co-activators, corepressors, and chromatin remodeling enzymes to initiate transcription machinery. In our previous (Lin et al, 2007) and recent (Joseph et al, 2010) studies, we have identified high confidence ERα binding sites in MCF-7 human mammary carcinoma cells. With known motif scanning and de novo motif detection, we identified that FOXA1 and GATA3 motifs were commonly enriched around ERα binding sites. Moreover, numerous microarray studies have documented the co-expression of ERα, FOXA1, and GATA3 in primary breast tumors (Badve et al, 2007; Wilson and Giguere, 2008). This evidence suggests that these three transcription factors (TFs) may cluster on DNA binding sites and contribute to the breast cancer phenotype. However, there is little understanding as to the nature of their coordinated interaction at the genome level or the biological consequences of their detailed interaction.
We mapped the genome-wide binding profiles of ERα, FOXA1, and GATA3 using the massive parallel chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) approach. We observed that ERα, FOXA1, and GATA3 colocalized in a coordinated manner where ∼30% of all ERα binding sites were overlapped with FOXA1 and GATA3 bindings upon estrogen (E2) stimulation. Moreover, we found that the ERα+FOXA1+GATA3 conjoint sites were associated with highest p300 co-activator recruitment, RNA Pol II occupancy, and chromatin opening. Such results indicate that these three TFs form a functional enhanceosome and cooperatively modulate the transcriptional networks previously ascribed to ERα alone. And such enhanceosome binding sites appear to regulate the genes driving core ERα function.
To further validate that ERα+FOXA1+GATA3 co-binding represents an optimal configuration for E2-mediated transcriptional activation, we have performed luciferase reporter assays on GREB1 locus that actively engages ERα enhanceosome sites in gene regulation (Figure 5C). The presence of ERα induced the GREB1 luciferase activity to ∼246% (as compared with the control construct). The individual presence of FOXA1 and GATA3 or combination of both only produced subtle changes to the GREB1 luciferase activity. The combination of ERα+FOXA1 and ERα+GATA3 has increased the luciferase activity to ∼330%. Interestingly, the assemblage of ERα+FOXA1+GATA3 provided the optimal ER responsiveness to 370%. This suggests that ERα provides the fundamental gene regulatory module but that FOXA1 and GATA3 incrementally improve ERα-regulated transcriptional induction.
It is known that ERα is a ligand-activated TF that mediates the proliferative effects of E2 in breast cancer cells. Garcia et al (1992) showed inhibited growth in MDA-MB-231 cells with forced expression of ERα upon E2 treatment. The rationale for these different outcomes has remained elusive. We posited that these higher order regulatory mechanisms of ERα function such as the formation and composition of enhanceosomes may explain the establishment of transcriptional regulatory cassettes favoring either growth enhancement or growth repression.
To test this hypothesis, we stably transfected the MDA-MB-231 cells with individual ERα, FOXA1, GATA3, or in combinations (Figure 6A). We observed inhibited growth in cells with enforced expression of ERα or FOXA1. There was unaltered growth in cells with expression of GATA3. Co-expression of ERα+FOXA1 or ERα+GATA3 exhibited inhibition of cell proliferation as compared with control cells. However, the co-expression of ERα together with FOXA1 and GATA3 resulted in marked induction of cell proliferation under E2 stimulation. We have recapitulated this cellular reprogramming in another ERα-negative breast cancer cell line, BT-549 and observed similar E2-responsive growth induction in the ERα+FOXA1+GATA3-expressing BT-549 cells. This suggests that only with the full activation of conjoint binding sites by the three TFs will the proliferative phenotype associated with ligand induced ERα be manifest.
To assess the nature of this transcriptional reprogramming, we asked the question if the reprogrammed MDA-MB-231 cells display any similarity in the expression profile of the ERα-positive breast cancer cell line, MCF-7 (Figure 6C). We combined the E2-regulated genes from these differently transfected MDA-MB-231 cells, and compared their expressions in these MDA-MB-231-transfected cells and MCF-7 cells. Strikingly, we found that the expression profiles of ERα+FOXA1+GATA3-expressing MDA-MB-231 cells display a good correlation (R=0.42) with the E2-induced expression profile of MCF-7. We did not observe such correlation between the expression profiles of MDA-MB-231 transfected with ERα only (R=−0.21). Furthermore, we observed that there is marginal induced expression of luminal marker genes and reduced expression of basal genes in the ERα+FOXA1+GATA3-expressing MDA-MB-231 as compared with the vector control cells. This suggests that the enhanceosome component is competent to partially reprogramme the basal cells to resemble the luminal cells.
Taken together, we have uncovered the genomics impact as well as the functional importance of an enhanceosome comprising ERα, FOXA1, and GATA3 in the estrogen responsiveness of ERα-positive breast cancer cells. This enhanceosome exerts significant combinatorial control of the transcriptional network regulating growth and proliferation of ERα-positive breast cancer cells. Most importantly, we show that the transfection of the enhanceosome component was necessary to reprogramme the ERα-negative cells to restore the estrogen-responsive growth and to transcriptionally induce a basal to luminal transition.
Despite the role of the estrogen receptor α (ERα) pathway as a key growth driver for breast cells, the phenotypic consequence of exogenous introduction of ERα into ERα-negative cells paradoxically has been growth inhibition. We mapped the binding profiles of ERα and its interacting transcription factors (TFs), FOXA1 and GATA3 in MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells, and observed that these three TFs form a functional enhanceosome that regulates the genes driving core ERα function and cooperatively modulate the transcriptional networks previously ascribed to ERα alone. We demonstrate that these enhanceosome occupied sites are associated with optimal enhancer characteristics with highest p300 co-activator recruitment, RNA Pol II occupancy, and chromatin opening. Most importantly, we show that the transfection of all three TFs was necessary to reprogramme the ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 and BT-549 cells to restore the estrogen-responsive growth resembling estrogen-treated ERα-positive MCF-7 cells. Cumulatively, these results suggest that all the enhanceosome components comprising ERα, FOXA1, and GATA3 are necessary for the full repertoire of cancer-associated effects of the ERα.
PMCID: PMC3202798  PMID: 21878914
enhanceosome; estrogen receptor α; FOXA1; GATA3; synthetic phenotypes
2.  Whole-Genome Cartography of Estrogen Receptor α Binding Sites 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(6):e87.
Using a chromatin immunoprecipitation-paired end diTag cloning and sequencing strategy, we mapped estrogen receptor α (ERα) binding sites in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. We identified 1,234 high confidence binding clusters of which 94% are projected to be bona fide ERα binding regions. Only 5% of the mapped estrogen receptor binding sites are located within 5 kb upstream of the transcriptional start sites of adjacent genes, regions containing the proximal promoters, whereas vast majority of the sites are mapped to intronic or distal locations (>5 kb from 5′ and 3′ ends of adjacent transcript), suggesting transcriptional regulatory mechanisms over significant physical distances. Of all the identified sites, 71% harbored putative full estrogen response elements (EREs), 25% bore ERE half sites, and only 4% had no recognizable ERE sequences. Genes in the vicinity of ERα binding sites were enriched for regulation by estradiol in MCF-7 cells, and their expression profiles in patient samples segregate ERα-positive from ERα-negative breast tumors. The expression dynamics of the genes adjacent to ERα binding sites suggest a direct induction of gene expression through binding to ERE-like sequences, whereas transcriptional repression by ERα appears to be through indirect mechanisms. Our analysis also indicates a number of candidate transcription factor binding sites adjacent to occupied EREs at frequencies much greater than by chance, including the previously reported FOXA1 sites, and demonstrate the potential involvement of one such putative adjacent factor, Sp1, in the global regulation of ERα target genes. Unexpectedly, we found that only 22%–24% of the bona fide human ERα binding sites were overlapping conserved regions in whole genome vertebrate alignments, which suggest limited conservation of functional binding sites. Taken together, this genome-scale analysis suggests complex but definable rules governing ERα binding and gene regulation.
Author Summary
Estrogen receptors (ERs) play key roles in facilitating the transcriptional effects of hormone functions in target tissues. To obtain a genome-wide view of ERα binding sites, we applied chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with a cloning and sequencing strategy using chromatin immunoprecipitation pair end-tagging technology to map ERα binding sites in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. We identified 1,234 high quality ERα binding sites in the human genome and demonstrated that the binding sites are frequently adjacent to genes significantly associated with breast cancer disease status and outcome. The mapping results also revealed that ERα can influence gene expression across distances of up to 100 kilobases or more, that genes that are induced or repressed utilize sites in different regions relative to the transcript (suggesting different mechanisms of action), and that ERα binding sites are only modestly conserved in evolution. Using computational approaches, we identified potential interactions with other transcription factor binding sites adjacent to the ERα binding elements. Taken together, these findings suggest complex but definable rules governing ERα binding and gene regulation and provide a valuable dataset for mapping the precise control nodes for one of the most important nuclear hormone receptors in breast cancer biology.
PMCID: PMC1885282  PMID: 17542648
3.  Structure-Function Relationships of the Raloxifene-Estrogen Receptor-α Complex for Regulating Transforming Growth Factor-α Expression in Breast Cancer Cells* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2001;277(11):9189-9198.
Amino acid Asp-351 in the ligand binding domain of estrogen receptor α (ERα) plays an important role in regulating the estrogen-like activity of selective estrogen receptor modulator-ERα complexes. 4-Hydroxyta-moxifen is a full agonist at a transforming growth factor a target gene in situ in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells stably transfected with the wild-type ERα. In contrast, raloxifene (Ral), which is also a selective estrogen receptor modulator, is a complete antiestrogen in this system. Because D351G ERα allosterically silences activation function-1 activity in the 4-hydroxytamox-ifen-ERα complex with the complete loss of estrogenlike activity, we examined the converse interaction of amino acid 351 and the piperidine ring of the antiestrogen side chain of raloxifene to enhance estrogen-like action. MDA-MB-231 cells were either transiently or stably transfected with Asp-351 (the wild type), D351E, D351Y, or D351F ERα expression vectors. Profound differences in the agonist and antagonist actions of Ral-ERα complexes were noted only in stable transfec-tants. The agonist activity of the Ral-ERα complex was enhanced with D351E and D351Y ERα, but raloxifene lost its agonist activity with D351F ERα. The distance between the piperidine nitrogen of raloxifene and the negative charge of amino acid 351 was critical for estrogen-like actions. The role of the piperidine ring in neutralizing Asp-351 was addressed using compound R1h, a raloxifene derivative replacing the nitrogen on its piperidine ring with a carbon to form cyclohexane. The derivative was a potent agonist with wild type ERα. These results support the concept that the side chain of raloxifene shields and neutralizes the Asp-351 to produce an antiestrogenic ERα complex. Alteration of either the side chain or its relationship with the negative charge at amino acid 351 controls the estrogen-like action at activating function 2b of the selective estrogen receptor modulator ERα complex.
PMCID: PMC3696956  PMID: 11751902
4.  Protein Kinase A-induced tamoxifen resistance is mediated by anchoring protein AKAP13 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:588.
Estrogen Receptor alpha (ERα)-positive breast cancer patients receive endocrine therapy, often in the form of tamoxifen. However, resistance to tamoxifen is frequently observed. A signalling cascade that leads to tamoxifen resistance is dictated by activation of the Protein Kinase A (PKA) pathway, which leads to phosphorylation of ERα on Serine 305 and receptor activation, following tamoxifen binding. Thus far, it remains elusive what protein complexes enable the PKA-ERα interaction resulting in ERα Serine 305 phosphorylation.
We performed immunohistochemistry to detect ERαSerine 305 phosphorylation in a cohort of breast cancer patients who received tamoxifen treatment in the metastatic setting. From the same tumor specimens, Agilent 44 K gene expression analyses were performed and integrated with clinicopathological data and survival information. In vitro analyses were performed using MCF7 breast cancer cells, which included immunoprecipitations and Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) analyses to illustrate ERα complex formation. siRNA mediated knockdown experiments were performed to assess effects on ERαSerine 305 phosphorylation status, ERα/PKA interactions and downstream responsive gene activity.
Stratifying breast tumors on ERα Serine 305 phosphorylation status resulted in the identification of a gene network centered upon AKAP13. AKAP13 mRNA expression levels correlate with poor outcome in patients who received tamoxifen treatment in the metastatic setting. In addition, AKAP13 mRNA levels correlate with ERαSerine 305 phosphorylation in breast tumor samples, suggesting a functional connection between these two events. In a luminal breast cancer cell line, AKAP13 was found to interact with ERα as well as with a regulatory subunit of PKA. Knocking down of AKAP13 prevented PKA-mediated Serine 305 phosphorylation of ERα and abrogated PKA-driven tamoxifen resistance, illustrating that AKAP13 is an essential protein in this process.
We show that the PKA-anchoring protein AKAP13 is essential for the phosphorylation of ERαS305, which leads to tamoxifen resistance both in cell lines and tamoxifen-treated breast cancer patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1591-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4536754  PMID: 26272591
5.  Inference of hierarchical regulatory network of estrogen-dependent breast cancer through ChIP-based data 
BMC Systems Biology  2010;4:170.
Global profiling of in vivo protein-DNA interactions using ChIP-based technologies has evolved rapidly in recent years. Although many genome-wide studies have identified thousands of ERα binding sites and have revealed the associated transcription factor (TF) partners, such as AP1, FOXA1 and CEBP, little is known about ERα associated hierarchical transcriptional regulatory networks.
In this study, we applied computational approaches to analyze three public available ChIP-based datasets: ChIP-seq, ChIP-PET and ChIP-chip, and to investigate the hierarchical regulatory network for ERα and ERα partner TFs regulation in estrogen-dependent breast cancer MCF7 cells. 16 common TFs and two common new TF partners (RORA and PITX2) were found among ChIP-seq, ChIP-chip and ChIP-PET datasets. The regulatory networks were constructed by scanning the ChIP-peak region with TF specific position weight matrix (PWM). A permutation test was performed to test the reliability of each connection of the network. We then used DREM software to perform gene ontology function analysis on the common genes. We found that FOS, PITX2, RORA and FOXA1 were involved in the up-regulated genes.
We also conducted the ERα and Pol-II ChIP-seq experiments in tamoxifen resistance MCF7 cells (denoted as MCF7-T in this study) and compared the difference between MCF7 and MCF7-T cells. The result showed very little overlap between these two cells in terms of targeted genes (21.2% of common genes) and targeted TFs (25% of common TFs). The significant dissimilarity may indicate totally different transcriptional regulatory mechanisms between these two cancer cells.
Our study uncovers new estrogen-mediated regulatory networks by mining three ChIP-based data in MCF7 cells and ChIP-seq data in MCF7-T cells. We compared the different ChIP-based technologies as well as different breast cancer cells. Our computational analytical approach may guide biologists to further study the underlying mechanisms in breast cancer cells or other human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3012048  PMID: 21167036
6.  Estrogen Mediated-Activation of miR-191/425 Cluster Modulates Tumorigenicity of Breast Cancer Cells Depending on Estrogen Receptor Status 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003311.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), single-stranded non-coding RNAs, influence myriad biological processes that can contribute to cancer. Although tumor-suppressive and oncogenic functions have been characterized for some miRNAs, the majority of microRNAs have not been investigated for their ability to promote and modulate tumorigenesis. Here, we established that the miR-191/425 cluster is transcriptionally dependent on the host gene, DALRD3, and that the hormone 17β-estradiol (estrogen or E2) controls expression of both miR-191/425 and DALRD3. MiR-191/425 locus characterization revealed that the recruitment of estrogen receptor α (ERα) to the regulatory region of the miR-191/425-DALRD3 unit resulted in the accumulation of miR-191 and miR-425 and subsequent decrease in DALRD3 expression levels. We demonstrated that miR-191 protects ERα positive breast cancer cells from hormone starvation-induced apoptosis through the suppression of tumor-suppressor EGR1. Furthermore, enforced expression of the miR-191/425 cluster in aggressive breast cancer cells altered global gene expression profiles and enabled us to identify important tumor promoting genes, including SATB1, CCND2, and FSCN1, as targets of miR-191 and miR-425. Finally, in vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that miR-191 and miR-425 reduced proliferation, impaired tumorigenesis and metastasis, and increased expression of epithelial markers in aggressive breast cancer cells. Our data provide compelling evidence for the transcriptional regulation of the miR-191/425 cluster and for its context-specific biological determinants in breast cancers. Importantly, we demonstrated that the miR-191/425 cluster, by reducing the expression of an extensive network of genes, has a fundamental impact on cancer initiation and progression of breast cancer cells.
Author Summary
MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that act as posttranscriptional repressors of gene expression. A pivotal role for miRNAs in all the molecular processes driving initiation and progression of various malignancies, including breast cancer, has been described. Divergent miRNA expression between normal and neoplastic breast tissues has been demonstrated, as well as differential miRNA expression among the molecular subtypes of breast cancer. Over half of all breast cancers overexpress ERα, and several studies have shown that miRNA expression is controlled by ERα. We assessed the global change in microRNA expression after estrogen starvation and stimulation in breast cancer cells and identified that miR-191/425 and the host gene DALRD3 are positively associated to ERα-positive tumors. We demonstrated that ERα regulates the miR-191/425 cluster and verified the existence of a transcriptional network that allows a dual effect of estrogen on miR-191/425 and their host gene. We show that estrogen induction of miR-191/425 supports in vitro and in vivo the estrogen-dependent proliferation of ERα positive breast cancer cells. On the contrary, miR-191/425 cluster reprograms gene expression to impair tumorigenicity and metastatic potential of highly aggressive ERα negative breast cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3591271  PMID: 23505378
7.  The AF-1-deficient estrogen receptor ERα46 isoform is frequently expressed in human breast tumors 
To date, all studies conducted on breast cancer diagnosis have focused on the expression of the full-length 66-kDa estrogen receptor alpha (ERα66). However, much less attention has been paid to a shorter 46-kDa isoform (ERα46), devoid of the N-terminal region containing the transactivation function AF-1. Here, we investigated the expression levels of ERα46 in breast tumors in relation to tumor grade and size, and examined the mechanism of its generation and its specificities of coregulatory binding and its functional activities.
Using approaches combining immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and proteomics, antibodies allowing ERα46 detection were identified and the expression levels of ERα46 were quantified in 116 ERα-positive human breast tumors. ERα46 expression upon cellular stress was studied, and coregulator bindings, transcriptional, and proliferative response were determined to both ERα isoforms.
ERα46 was expressed in over 70% of breast tumors at variable levels which sometimes were more abundant than ERα66, especially in differentiated, lower-grade, and smaller-sized tumors. We also found that ERα46 can be generated via internal ribosome entry site-mediated translation in the context of endoplasmic reticulum stress. The binding affinities of both unliganded and fully-activated receptors towards co-regulator peptides revealed that the respective potencies of ERα46 and ERα66 differ significantly, contributing to the differential transcriptional activity of target genes to 17β estradiol (E2). Finally, increasing amounts of ERα46 decrease the proliferation rate of MCF7 tumor cells in response to E2.
We found that, besides the full-length ERα66, the overlooked ERα46 isoform is also expressed in a majority of breast tumors. This finding highlights the importance of the choice of antibodies used for the diagnosis of breast cancer, which are able or not to detect the ERα46 isoform. In addition, since the function of both ERα isoforms differs, this work underlines the need to develop new technologies in order to discriminate ERα66 and ERα46 expression in breast cancer diagnosis which could have potential clinical relevance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13058-016-0780-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5142410  PMID: 27927249
Breast cancer; Estrogen receptor ERα; Isoforms; Diagnosis; Internal ribosomal entry site; Activation function
8.  Resveratrol modulates the inflammatory response via an estrogen receptor-signal integration network 
eLife  2014;3:e02057.
Resveratrol has beneficial effects on aging, inflammation and metabolism, which are thought to result from activation of the lysine deacetylase, sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), the cAMP pathway, or AMP-activated protein kinase. In this study, we report that resveratrol acts as a pathway-selective estrogen receptor-α (ERα) ligand to modulate the inflammatory response but not cell proliferation. A crystal structure of the ERα ligand-binding domain (LBD) as a complex with resveratrol revealed a unique perturbation of the coactivator-binding surface, consistent with an altered coregulator recruitment profile. Gene expression analyses revealed significant overlap of TNFα genes modulated by resveratrol and estradiol. Furthermore, the ability of resveratrol to suppress interleukin-6 transcription was shown to require ERα and several ERα coregulators, suggesting that ERα functions as a primary conduit for resveratrol activity.
eLife digest
Resveratrol is a compound found in significant quantities in red wine, grapes, and peanuts. Many health benefits have been linked to it, including protecting against certain types of cancer and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. How resveratrol could produce these very different effects is unknown, but evidence is emerging that it is involved in a wide range of biological processes.
However, the ability of resveratrol to bind with, and activate, proteins called estrogen receptors has largely been overlooked. These receptors have a range of roles. For example, estrogen receptors fight against inflammation by preventing the transcription of the gene that encodes a signaling protein called interleukin-6. However, estrogen receptors do not work alone: other molecules called coregulators interact with them and alter how effectively they can prevent gene expression.
Resveratrol has also been associated with anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in tissues that contain large numbers of an estrogen receptor called ERα, though this connection has been little studied. Nwachukwu et al. now reveal that the two are linked—the anti-inflammatory response of resveratrol relies on it being bound to ERα. This binding changes the shape of the receptor in a way that controls which coregulator molecules help it to regulate transcription. Additionally, this binding complex does not produce the cancer-causing side effects often associated with activated ERα. Nwachukwu et al. also found that the effect of resveratrol on the inflammatory response depends on specific other coregulators being present.
The role of ERα in enhancing and activating resveratrol's effects is important because resveratrol has poor bioavailability in humans, and so it is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream. This makes it difficult for someone to get a dose high enough to produce beneficial effects. Further research targeting ERα may produce similar beneficial compounds to resveratrol, but with improved bioavailability.
PMCID: PMC4017646  PMID: 24771768
resveratrol; estrogen receptor; inflammation; x-ray crystallography; transcription regulation; Human
9.  Bioinformatic analysis of cis-regulatory interactions between progesterone and estrogen receptors in breast cancer 
PeerJ  2014;2:e654.
Chromatin factors interact with each other in a cell and sequence-specific manner in order to regulate transcription and a wealth of publically available datasets exists describing the genomic locations of these interactions. Our recently published BiSA (Binding Sites Analyser) database contains transcription factor binding locations and epigenetic modifications collected from published studies and provides tools to analyse stored and imported data. Using BiSA we investigated the overlapping cis-regulatory role of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and progesterone receptor (PR) in the T-47D breast cancer cell line. We found that ERα binding sites overlap with a subset of PR binding sites. To investigate further, we re-analysed raw data to remove any biases introduced by the use of distinct tools in the original publications. We identified 22,152 PR and 18,560 ERα binding sites (<5% false discovery rate) with 4,358 overlapping regions among the two datasets. BiSA statistical analysis revealed a non-significant overall overlap correlation between the two factors, suggesting that ERα and PR are not partner factors and do not require each other for binding to occur. However, Monte Carlo simulation by Binary Interval Search (BITS), Relevant Distance, Absolute Distance, Jaccard and Projection tests by Genometricorr revealed a statistically significant spatial correlation of binding regions on chromosome between the two factors. Motif analysis revealed that the shared binding regions were enriched with binding motifs for ERα, PR and a number of other transcription and pioneer factors. Some of these factors are known to co-locate with ERα and PR binding. Therefore spatially close proximity of ERα binding sites with PR binding sites suggests that ERα and PR, in general function independently at the molecular level, but that their activities converge on a specific subset of transcriptional targets.
PMCID: PMC4243336  PMID: 25426335
Transcription factors; Estrogen receptor alpha; Progesterone receptor; ERα; ESR1; PR; Breast cancer; T47D; BiSA; Genomic region database
10.  TWIST Represses Estrogen Receptor-alpha Expression by Recruiting the NuRD Protein Complex in Breast Cancer Cells 
Loss of estrogen receptor α (ERα) expression and gain of TWIST (TWIST1) expression in breast tumors correlate with increased disease recurrence and metastasis and poor disease-free survival. However, the molecular and functional regulatory relationship between TWIST and ERα are unclear. In this study, we found TWIST was associated with a chromatin region in intron 7 of the human ESR1 gene coding for ERα. This association of TWIST efficiently recruited the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase (NuRD) repressor complex to this region, which subsequently decreased histone H3K9 acetylation, increased histone H3K9 methylation and repressed ESR1 expression in breast cancer cells. In agreement with these molecular events, TWIST expression was inversely correlated with ERα expression in both breast cancer cell lines and human breast ductal carcinomas. Forced expression of TWIST in TWIST-negative and ERα-positive breast cancer cells such as T47D and MCF-7 cells reduced ERα expression, while knockdown of TWIST in TWIST-positive and ERα-negative breast cancer cells such as MDA-MB-435 and 4T1 cells increased ERα expression. Furthermore, inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity including the one in NuRD complex significantly increased ERα expression in MDA-MB-435 and 4T1 cells. HDAC inhibition together with TWIST knockdown did not further increase ERα expression in 4T1 and MDA-MB-435 cells. These results demonstrate that TWIST/NuRD represses ERα expression in breast cancer cells. Therefore, TWIST may serve as a potential molecular target for converting ERα-negative breast cancers to ERα-positive breast cancers, allowing these cancers to restore their sensitivity to endocrine therapy with selective ERα antagonists such as tamoxifen and raloxifene.
PMCID: PMC3314193  PMID: 22457607
TWIST; ERα; NuRD complex; gene repression; breast cancer
11.  In silico discovery and validation of potent small-molecule inhibitors targeting the activation function 2 site of human oestrogen receptor α 
Current approaches to inhibit oestrogen receptor-alpha (ERα) are focused on targeting its hormone-binding pocket and have limitations. Thus, we propose that inhibitors that bind to a coactivator-binding pocket on ERα, called activation function 2 (AF2), might overcome some of these limitations.
In silico virtual screening was used to identify small-molecule ERα AF2 inhibitors. These compounds were screened for inhibition of ERα transcriptional activity using stably transfected T47D-KBluc cell line. A direct physical interaction between the AF2 binders and the ERα protein was measured using biolayer interferometry (BLI) and an ERα coactivator displacement assay. Cell viability was assessed by MTS assay in ERα-positive MCF7 cells, tamoxifen-resistant (TamR) cell lines TamR3 and TamR6, and ERα-negative MDA-MB-453 and HeLa cell lines. In addition, ERα inhibition in TamR cells and the effect of compounds on mRNA and protein expression of oestrogen-dependent genes, pS2, cathepsin D and cell division cycle 2 (CDC2) were determined.
Fifteen inhibitors from two chemical classes, derivatives of pyrazolidine-3,5-dione and carbohydrazide, were identified. In a series of in vitro assays, VPC-16230 of the carbohydrazide chemical class emerged as a lead ERα AF2 inhibitor that significantly downregulated ERα transcriptional activity (half-maximal inhibitory concentration = 5.81 μM). By directly binding to the ERα protein, as confirmed by BLI, VPC-16230 effectively displaced coactivator peptides from the AF2 pocket, confirming its site-specific action. VPC-16230 selectively suppressed the growth of ERα-positive breast cancer cells. Furthermore, it significantly inhibited ERα mediated transcription in TamR cells. More importantly, it reduced mRNA and protein levels of pS2, cathepsin D and CDC2, validating its ER-directed activity.
We identified VPC-16230 as an ERα AF2-specific inhibitor that demonstrated promising antiproliferative effects in breast cancer cell lines, including TamR cells. VPC-16230 reduced the expression of ERα-inducible genes, including CDC2, which is involved in cell division. We anticipate that the application of ERα AF2 inhibitors will provide a novel approach that can act as a complementary therapeutic to treat ERα-positive, tamoxifen-resistant and metastatic breast cancers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13058-015-0529-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4360945  PMID: 25848700
12.  Integrative genomics of gene and metabolic regulation by estrogen receptors α and β, and their coregulators 
To define how the estrogen receptors α and β control specific responses in breast cancer cells, genome-wide patterns of chromatin binding of the ERα and ERβ receptors and their coregulators, SRC3 and RIP140, were determined and integrated with gene expression data and functional analyses.
The closely related transcription factors, estrogen receptors ERα and ERβ, can elicit differential cellular responses.To understand the basis of this specificity, chromatin binding of ERs and key coregulators, and gene expression, were analyzed genome wide in human breast cancer cells containing ERα only, ERα+ERβ, and ERβ only.A clustering-based combinatorial analysis of ChIP-Seq and gene expression data was used to parse genes into groups, specifying their mode of functional regulation in a particular cell background.Through this analysis, RIP140 was identified as an ERβ-preferential cofactor regulating cell proliferation, apoptosis, and adipogenesis programs.A 20-gene ERβ and RIP140 signature was developed, which predicted outcome and disease-free survival in breast cancer patients.
The closely related transcription factors (TFs), estrogen receptors ERα and ERβ, regulate divergent gene expression programs and proliferative outcomes in breast cancer. Utilizing breast cancer cells with ERα, ERβ, or both receptors as a model system to define the basis for differing response specification by related TFs, we show that these TFs and their key coregulators, SRC3 and RIP140, generate overlapping as well as unique chromatin-binding and transcription-regulating modules. Cistrome and transcriptome analyses and the use of clustering algorithms delineated 11 clusters representing different chromatin-bound receptor and coregulator assemblies that could be functionally associated through enrichment analysis with distinct patterns of gene regulation and preferential coregulator usage, RIP140 with ERβ and SRC3 with ERα. The receptors modified each other's transcriptional effect, and ERβ countered the proliferative drive of ERα through several novel mechanisms associated with specific binding-site clusters. Our findings delineate distinct TF-coregulator assemblies that function as control nodes, specifying precise patterns of gene regulation, proliferation, and metabolism, as exemplified by two of the most important nuclear hormone receptors in human breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3964312  PMID: 23774759
coregulator usage; estrogen receptors α and β; gene regulation; metabolism; proliferation
13.  Interaction of TFAP2C with the Estrogen Receptor-α Promoter Is Controlled by Chromatin Structure 
Transcriptional regulation of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) involves both epigenetic mechanisms and trans-active factors, such as TFAP2C, which induces ERα transcription through an AP-2 regulatory region in the ERα promoter. Attempts to induce endogenous ERα expression in ERα-negative breast carcinomas by forced overexpression of TFAP2C have not been successful. We hypothesize that epigenetic chromatin structure alters the activity of TFAP2C at the ERα promoter.
Experimental Design
DNA methylation, histone acetylation, and chromatin accessibility were examined at the ERα promoter in a panel of breast carcinoma cell lines. TFAP2C and polymerase II binding were analyzed by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Epigenetic chromatin structure was altered using drug treatment with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (AZA) and trichostatin A (TSA).
The ERα promoter in the ERα-negative lines MDA-MB-231, MCF10A, and MCF7-5C show CpG island methylation, histone 3 lysine 9 deacetylation, and decreased chromatin accessibility compared with ERα-positive cell lines MCF7 and T47-D. Treatment with AZA/TSA increased chromatin accessibility at the ERα promoter and allowed TFAP2C to induce ERα expression in ERα-negative cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that binding of TFAP2C to the ERα promoter is blocked in ERα- negative cells but that treatment with AZA/TSA enabled TFAP2C and polymerase II binding.
We conclude that the activity of TFAP2C at specific target genes depends upon epigenetic chromatin structure. Furthermore, the combination of increasing chromatin accessibility and inducing TFAP2C provides a more robust activation of the ERα gene in ERα-negative breast cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2776721  PMID: 19458056
14.  The role of Transposable Elements in shaping the combinatorial interaction of Transcription Factors 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:400.
In the last few years several studies have shown that Transposable Elements (TEs) in the human genome are significantly associated with Transcription Factor Binding Sites (TFBSs) and that in several cases their expansion within the genome led to a substantial rewiring of the regulatory network. Another important feature of the regulatory network which has been thoroughly studied is the combinatorial organization of transcriptional regulation. In this paper we combine these two observations and suggest that TEs, besides rewiring the network, also played a central role in the evolution of particular patterns of combinatorial gene regulation.
To address this issue we searched for TEs overlapping Estrogen Receptor α (ERα) binding peaks in two publicly available ChIP-seq datasets from the MCF7 cell line corresponding to different modalities of exposure to estrogen. We found a remarkable enrichment of a few specific classes of Transposons. Among these a prominent role was played by MIR (Mammalian Interspersed Repeats) transposons. These TEs underwent a dramatic expansion at the beginning of the mammalian radiation and then stabilized. We conjecture that the special affinity of ERα for the MIR class of TEs could be at the origin of the important role assumed by ERα in Mammalians. We then searched for TFBSs within the TEs overlapping ChIP-seq peaks. We found a strong enrichment of a few precise combinations of TFBS. In several cases the corresponding Transcription Factors (TFs) were known cofactors of ERα, thus supporting the idea of a co-regulatory role of TFBS within the same TE. Moreover, most of these correlations turned out to be strictly associated to specific classes of TEs thus suggesting the presence of a well-defined "transposon code" within the regulatory network.
In this work we tried to shed light into the role of Transposable Elements (TEs) in shaping the regulatory network of higher eukaryotes. To test this idea we focused on a particular transcription factor: the Estrogen Receptor α (ERα) and we found that ERα preferentially targets a well defined set of TEs and that these TEs host combinations of transcriptional regulators involving several of known co-regulators of ERα. Moreover, a significant number of these TEs turned out to be conserved between human and mouse and located in the vicinity (and thus candidate to be regulators) of important estrogen-related genes.
PMCID: PMC3478180  PMID: 22897927
Transposable elements; ChIP-seq; Transcription factors; ERα; Combinatorial interaction
15.  Distinct effects of loss of classical estrogen receptor signaling versus complete deletion of estrogen receptor alpha on bone 
Bone  2011;49(2):208-216.
Estrogen receptor (ER)α is a major regulator of bone metabolism which can modulate gene expression via a “classical” pathway involving direct DNA binding to estrogen-response elements (EREs) or via “non-classical” pathways involving protein-protein interactions. While the skeletal consequences of loss of ERE binding by ERα have been described, a significant unresolved question is how loss of ERE binding differs from complete loss of ERα. Thus, we compared the skeletal phenotype of wild-type (ERα+/+) and ERα knock out (ERα−/−) mice with that of mice in which the only ERα present had a knock-in mutation abolishing ERE binding (non-classical ERα knock-in [NERKI], ERα−/NERKI). All three groups were in the same genetic background (C57BL/6). As compared to both ERα+/+ and ERα−/− mice, ERα−/NERKI mice had significantly reduced cortical volumetric bone mineral density and thickness at the tibial diaphysis; this was accompanied by significant decreases in periosteal and endocortical mineral apposition rates. Colony forming unit (CFU)-fibroblast, CFU-alkaline phosphatase, and CFU-osteoblast numbers were all increased in ERα−/− compared to ERα+/+ mice, but reduced in ERα−/NERKI mice compared to the two other groups. Thus, using mice in identical genetic backgrounds, our data indicate that the presence of an ERα that cannot bind DNA but can function through protein-protein interactions may have more deleterious skeletal effects than complete loss of ERα. These findings suggest that shifting the balance of classical versus non-classical ERα signaling triggers pathways that impair bone formation. Further studies defining these pathways may lead to novel approaches to selectively modulate ER signaling for beneficial skeletal effects.
PMCID: PMC3117959  PMID: 21458604
estrogen; bone; mouse
16.  AKT Alters Genome-Wide Estrogen Receptor α Binding and Impacts Estrogen Signaling in Breast Cancer▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(24):7487-7503.
Estrogen regulates several biological processes through estrogen receptor α (ERα) and ERβ. ERα-estrogen signaling is additionally controlled by extracellular signal activated kinases such as AKT. In this study, we analyzed the effect of AKT on genome-wide ERα binding in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Parental and AKT-overexpressing cells displayed 4,349 and 4,359 ERα binding sites, respectively, with ∼60% overlap. In both cell types, ∼40% of estrogen-regulated genes associate with ERα binding sites; a similar percentage of estrogen-regulated genes are differentially expressed in two cell types. Based on pathway analysis, these differentially estrogen-regulated genes are linked to transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), NF-κB, and E2F pathways. Consistent with this, the two cell types responded differently to TGF-β treatment: parental cells, but not AKT-overexpressing cells, required estrogen to overcome growth inhibition. Combining the ERα DNA-binding pattern with gene expression data from primary tumors revealed specific effects of AKT on ERα binding and estrogen-regulated expression of genes that define prognostic subgroups and tamoxifen sensitivity of ERα-positive breast cancer. These results suggest a unique role of AKT in modulating estrogen signaling in ERα-positive breast cancers and highlights how extracellular signal activated kinases can change the landscape of transcription factor binding to the genome.
PMCID: PMC2593438  PMID: 18838536
17.  SnoN oncoprotein enhances estrogen receptor-α transcriptional activity 
Cellular signalling  2011;24(4):922-930.
Estrogen receptor-α (ERα) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) signaling pathways are essential regulators during mammary gland development and tumorigenesis. Ski-related novel gene (SnoN) is an oncoprotein and a negative feedback inhibitor of TGF-β signaling. We have previously reported that low expression of SnoN in ERα positive breast carcinomas is associated with favorable prognosis (Zhang et al. Cancer Res. (2003) 63, 5005–5010). Here we have studied the mechanism of a possible cross-talk between ERα and SnoN. We find that SnoN interacts with the estrogen-activated form of ERα in the nucleus. SnoN contains two highly conserved nuclear receptor binding LxxLL-like motifs and we show that mutations in these motifs reduce the interaction of SnoN with ERα. Over-expression of SnoN enhanced the transcriptional activity of ERα in estrogen response element (ERE)-reporter assays, augmented the expression of several ERα target genes and increased the proliferation of MCF7 breast carcinoma cells in an estrogen-dependent manner. Chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrated that SnoN interacts with ERα at the TTF1 (pS2) gene promoter. Conversely, silencing of SnoN reduced both ERE-reporter activity and the expression of ERα target genes in MCF7 and T-47D breast cancer cells. Histone deacetylase inhibition increased the level of SnoN and SnoN-dependent enhancement of ERα-dependent transcription and SnoN supported the recruitment of p300 histone acetylase to ERα. This study reveals a novel mechanism that interconnects ERα and TGF-β signaling pathways by SnoN. Accordingly, the results indicate that high SnoN level promotes ERα signaling and possibly breast cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC3612938  PMID: 22227247
SnoN; Estrogen receptor-α; Transforming growth factor β; Transcription; Ski
18.  Global analysis of estrogen receptor beta binding to breast cancer cell genome reveals an extensive interplay with estrogen receptor alpha for target gene regulation 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:36.
Estrogen receptors alpha (ERα) and beta (ERβ) are transcription factors (TFs) that mediate estrogen signaling and define the hormone-responsive phenotype of breast cancer (BC). The two receptors can be found co-expressed and play specific, often opposite, roles, with ERβ being able to modulate the effects of ERα on gene transcription and cell proliferation. ERβ is frequently lost in BC, where its presence generally correlates with a better prognosis of the disease. The identification of the genomic targets of ERβ in hormone-responsive BC cells is thus a critical step to elucidate the roles of this receptor in estrogen signaling and tumor cell biology.
Expression of full-length ERβ in hormone-responsive, ERα-positive MCF-7 cells resulted in a marked reduction in cell proliferation in response to estrogen and marked effects on the cell transcriptome. By ChIP-Seq we identified 9702 ERβ and 6024 ERα binding sites in estrogen-stimulated cells, comprising sites occupied by either ERβ, ERα or both ER subtypes. A search for TF binding matrices revealed that the majority of the binding sites identified comprise one or more Estrogen Response Element and the remaining show binding matrixes for other TFs known to mediate ER interaction with chromatin by tethering, including AP2, E2F and SP1. Of 921 genes differentially regulated by estrogen in ERβ+ vs ERβ- cells, 424 showed one or more ERβ site within 10 kb. These putative primary ERβ target genes control cell proliferation, death, differentiation, motility and adhesion, signal transduction and transcription, key cellular processes that might explain the biological and clinical phenotype of tumors expressing this ER subtype. ERβ binding in close proximity of several miRNA genes and in the mitochondrial genome, suggests the possible involvement of this receptor in small non-coding RNA biogenesis and mitochondrial genome functions.
Results indicate that the vast majority of the genomic targets of ERβ can bind also ERα, suggesting that the overall action of ERβ on the genome of hormone-responsive BC cells depends mainly on the relative concentration of both ERs in the cell.
PMCID: PMC3025958  PMID: 21235772
19.  A modulated empirical Bayes model for identifying topological and temporal estrogen receptor α regulatory networks in breast cancer 
BMC Systems Biology  2011;5:67.
Estrogens regulate diverse physiological processes in various tissues through genomic and non-genomic mechanisms that result in activation or repression of gene expression. Transcription regulation upon estrogen stimulation is a critical biological process underlying the onset and progress of the majority of breast cancer. Dynamic gene expression changes have been shown to characterize the breast cancer cell response to estrogens, the every molecular mechanism of which is still not well understood.
We developed a modulated empirical Bayes model, and constructed a novel topological and temporal transcription factor (TF) regulatory network in MCF7 breast cancer cell line upon stimulation by 17β-estradiol stimulation. In the network, significant TF genomic hubs were identified including ER-alpha and AP-1; significant non-genomic hubs include ZFP161, TFDP1, NRF1, TFAP2A, EGR1, E2F1, and PITX2. Although the early and late networks were distinct (<5% overlap of ERα target genes between the 4 and 24 h time points), all nine hubs were significantly represented in both networks. In MCF7 cells with acquired resistance to tamoxifen, the ERα regulatory network was unresponsive to 17β-estradiol stimulation. The significant loss of hormone responsiveness was associated with marked epigenomic changes, including hyper- or hypo-methylation of promoter CpG islands and repressive histone methylations.
We identified a number of estrogen regulated target genes and established estrogen-regulated network that distinguishes the genomic and non-genomic actions of estrogen receptor. Many gene targets of this network were not active anymore in anti-estrogen resistant cell lines, possibly because their DNA methylation and histone acetylation patterns have changed.
PMCID: PMC3117732  PMID: 21554733
20.  Estrogen receptor beta impacts hormone-induced alternative mRNA splicing in breast cancer cells 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):367.
Estrogens play an important role in breast cancer (BC) development and progression; when the two isoforms of the estrogen receptor (ERα and ERβ) are co-expressed each of them mediate specific effects of these hormones in BC cells. ERβ has been suggested to exert an antagonist role toward the oncogenic activities of ERα, and for this reason it is considered an oncosuppressor. As clinical evidence regarding a prognostic role for this receptor subtype in hormone-responsive BC is still limited and conflicting, more knowledge is required on the biological functions of ERβ in cancer cells. We have previously described the ERβ and ERα interactomes from BC cells, identifying specific and distinct patterns of protein interactions for the two receptors. In particular, we identified factors involved in mRNA splicing and maturation as important components of both ERα and ERβ pathways. Guided by these findings, here we performed RNA sequencing to investigate in depth the differences in the early transcriptional events and RNA splicing patterns induced by estradiol in cells expressing ERα alone or ERα and ERβ.
Exon skipping was the most abundant splicing event in the post-transcriptional regulation by estradiol. We identified several splicing events induced by ERα alone and by ERα + ERβ, demonstrating for the first time that ERβ significantly affects estrogen-induced splicing in BC cells, as revealed by modification of a subset of ERα-dependent splicing by ERβ, as well as by the presence of splicing isoforms only in ERβ + cells. In particular, we observed that ERβ + BC cell lines exhibited around 2-fold more splicing events than the ERβ- cells. Interestingly, we identified putative direct targets of ERβ-mediated alternative splicing by correlating the genomic locations of ERβ and ERα binding sites with estradiol-induced differential splicing in the corresponding genes.
Taken together, these results demonstrate that ERβ significantly affects estrogen-induced early transcription and mRNA splicing in hormone-responsive BC cells, providing novel information on the biological role of ERβ in these tumors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1541-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4424892  PMID: 25956916
Breast cancer; Estrogen receptor beta; Alternative splicing; Alternative promoters; RNAseq
21.  Prevention of Obesity and Insulin Resistance by Estrogens Requires ERα Activation Function-2 (ERαAF-2), Whereas ERαAF-1 Is Dispensable 
Diabetes  2013;62(12):4098-4108.
The beneficial metabolic actions of estrogen-based therapies are mainly mediated by estrogen receptor α (ERα), a nuclear receptor that regulates gene transcription through two activation functions (AFs): AF-1 and AF-2. Using mouse models deleted electively for ERαAF-1 (ERαAF-1°) or ERαAF-2 (ERαAF-2°), we determined their respective roles in the actions of estrogens on body composition and glucose homeostasis in response to either a normal diet or a high-fat diet (HFD). ERαAF-2° males and females developed accelerated weight gain, massive adiposity, severe insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance—quite reminiscent of the phenotype observed in mice deleted for the entire ERα protein (ERα−/−). In striking contrast, ERαAF-1° and wild-type (wt) mice shared a similar metabolic phenotype. Accordingly, 17β-estradiol administration regulated key metabolic genes in insulin-sensitive tissues and conferred a strong protection against HFD-induced metabolic disturbances in wt and ERαAF-1° ovariectomized mice, whereas these actions were totally abrogated in ERαAF-2° and ERα−/− mice. Thus, whereas both AFs have been previously shown to contribute to endometrial and breast cancer cell proliferation, the protective effect of estrogens against obesity and insulin resistance depends on ERαAF-2 but not ERαAF-1, thereby delineating new options for selective modulation of ERα.
PMCID: PMC3837069  PMID: 23903353
22.  Src promotes estrogen-dependent estrogen receptor α proteolysis in human breast cancer 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(8):2205-2215.
Estrogen drives both transcriptional activation and proteolysis of estrogen receptor α (ERα; encoded by ESR1). Here we observed variable and overlapping ESR1 mRNA levels in 200 ERα-negative and 50 ERα-positive primary breast cancers examined, which suggests important posttranscriptional ERα regulation. Our results indicate that Src cooperates with estrogen to activate ERα proteolysis. Inducible Src stimulated ligand-activated ERα transcriptional activity and reduced ERα t1/2. Src and ERα levels were inversely correlated in primary breast cancers. ERα-negative primary breast cancers and cell lines showed increased Src levels and/or activity compared with ERα-positive cancers and cells. ERα t1/2 was reduced in ERα-negative cell lines. In both ERα-positive and -negative cell lines, both proteasome and Src inhibitors increased ERα levels. Src inhibition impaired ligand-activated ERα ubiquitylation and increased ERα levels. Src siRNA impaired ligand-activated ERα loss in BT-20 cells. Pretreatment with Src increased ERα ubiquitylation and degradation in vitro. These findings provide what we believe to be a novel link between Src activation and ERα proteolysis and support a model whereby crosstalk between liganded ERα and Src drives ERα transcriptional activity and targets ERα for ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. Oncogenic Src activation may promote not only proliferation, but also estrogen-activated ERα loss in a subset of ERα-negative breast cancers, altering prognosis and response to therapy.
PMCID: PMC1906730  PMID: 17627304
23.  Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Modulation of Estrogen Receptor α-Mediated Gene Regulation by a Multimeric Chromatin Complex Involving the Two Receptors and the Coregulator RIP140 
Toxicological Sciences  2011;125(2):401-411.
Although crosstalk between aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and estrogen receptor α (ERα) is well established, the mechanistic basis and involvement of other proteins in this process are not known. Because we observed an enrichment of AhR-binding motifs in ERα-binding sites of many estradiol (E2)-regulated genes, we investigated how AhR might modulate ERα-mediated gene transcription in breast cancer cells. Gene regulations were categorized based on their pattern of stimulation by E2 and/or dioxin and were denoted E2-responsive, dioxin-responsive, or responsive to either ligand. ERα, AhR, aryl hydrocarbon receptor translocator, and receptor interacting protein 140 (RIP140) were recruited to gene regulatory regions in a gene-specific and E2/dioxin ligand-specific manner. Knockdown of AhR markedly increased the expression of ERα-mediated genes upon E2 treatment. This was not attributable to a change in ERα level, or recruitment of ERα, phosphoSer5-RNA Pol II, or several coregulators but rather was associated with greatly diminished recruitment of the coregulator RIP140 to gene regulatory sites. Changing the cellular level of RIP140 revealed coactivator or corepressor roles for this coregulator in E2- and dioxin-mediated gene regulation, the choice of which was determined by the presence or absence of ERα at gene regulatory sites. Coimmunoprecipitation and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-reChIP studies documented that E2- or dioxin-promoted formation of a multimeric complex of ERα, AhR, and RIP140 at ERα-binding sites of genes regulated by either E2 or dioxin. Our findings highlight the importance of cross-regulation between AhR and ERα and a novel mechanism by which AhR controls, through modulating the recruitment of RIP140 to ERα-binding sites, the kinetics and magnitude of ERα-mediated gene stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3262852  PMID: 22071320
estrogen receptor α; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; coregulator; gene regulation; breast cancer
24.  Forkhead Box Transcription Factor FOXO3a Regulates Estrogen Receptor Alpha Expression and Is Repressed by the Her-2/neu/Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase/Akt Signaling Pathway 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(19):8681-8690.
The expression status of the estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and that of the epidermal growth factor receptor Her-2/neu frequently correlate inversely in breast cancers. While ERα-dependent cancers respond to antiestrogen therapy, Her-2/neu-overexpressing cancers typically display resistance to antiestrogens and poor prognosis. In this report we have explored the mechanism linking the loss of expression of ERα in breast cancer cells with overexpression of Her-2/neu, which signals constitutively via a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt kinase pathway. We identify for the first time the Forkhead box protein FOXO3a (formerly termed FKHRL-1), which is inactivated by Akt, as a key regulator of ERα gene transcription. In breast cancer cell lines, expression of ERα was correlated with active FOXO3a levels. Ectopic FOXO3a expression induced ERα protein levels and promoter activity, while a dominant negative FOXO3a decreased ERα levels. By using transient transfection, mobility shift assays, and site-directed mutagenesis, two major functional Forkhead binding sites were identified in the human ERα promoter B. A chromatin immunoprecipitation assay confirmed FOXO3a binding at these two sites. Ectopic FOXO3a induced estrogen response element-driven reporter activity and expression of ERα target genes. The constitutively activated myristylated Akt reduced ERα expression, whereas agents that negatively affect the PI3K/Akt pathway, i.e., wortmannin, celecoxib, and the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3 gallate, induced ERα. Thus, FOXO3a represents an important intracellular mediator of ERα expression, suggesting possible therapeutic intervention strategies for Her-2/neu-overexpressing refractory breast tumors.
PMCID: PMC516736  PMID: 15367686
25.  Antiestrogen Resistant Cell Lines Expressing Estrogen Receptor α Mutations Upregulate the Unfolded Protein Response and are Killed by BHPI 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:34753.
Outgrowth of metastases expressing ERα mutations Y537S and D538G is common after endocrine therapy for estrogen receptor α (ERα) positive breast cancer. The effect of replacing wild type ERα in breast cancer cells with these mutations was unclear. We used the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system and homology directed repair to isolate and characterize 14 T47D cell lines in which ERαY537S or ERαD538G replace one or both wild-type ERα genes. In 2-dimensional, and in quantitative anchorage-independent 3-dimensional cell culture, ERαY537S and ERαD538G cells exhibited estrogen-independent growth. A progestin further increased their already substantial proliferation in micromolar 4-hydroxytamoxifen and fulvestrant/ICI 182,780 (ICI). Our recently described ERα biomodulator, BHPI, which hyperactivates the unfolded protein response (UPR), completely blocked proliferation. In ERαY537S and ERαD538G cells, estrogen-ERα target genes were constitutively active and partially antiestrogen resistant. The UPR marker sp-XBP1 was constitutively activated in ERαY537S cells and further induced by progesterone in both cell lines. UPR-regulated genes associated with tamoxifen resistance, including the oncogenic chaperone BiP/GRP78, were upregulated. ICI displayed a greater than 2 fold reduction in its ability to induce ERαY537S and ERαD538G degradation. Progestins, UPR activation and perhaps reduced ICI-stimulated ERα degradation likely contribute to antiestrogen resistance seen in ERαY537S and ERαD538G cells.
PMCID: PMC5054422  PMID: 27713477

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