MAP kinase/estrogen receptor cross-talk enhances estrogen-mediated signaling and tumor growth but does not confer tamoxifen resistance

Natasha Atanaskova, Venkateshwar G Keshamouni, Joseph S Krueger, Janice A Schwartz, Fred Miller, Kaladhar B Reddy
Oncogene 2002 June 6, 21 (25): 4000-8
The estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) signaling plays an essential role in breast cancer progression and endocrine therapy. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK/Erk1/2) has been implicated in ligand-independent activation of ER, resulting in the cross-talk between growth factor and ER mediated signaling. In this study, we examined the effect of the cross-talk on estradiol (E(2))-mediated signaling, tumor growth and its effect on anti-estrogen therapy. Our findings demonstrate that expression of constitutively activated mitogen activated kinase kinase (MEK1), an immediate upstream activator of MAPK in estrogen receptor positive MCF-7 breast cancer cells (MEK/MCF-7), showed an increase in ERalpha-driven transcriptional activation. In MEK/MCF-7 cells maximal transactivation levels were achieved in response to treatment with much lower E(2) concentrations (10(-10) M E(2)) when compared to MCF-7 control cells (10(-8) M E(2)). Furthermore, we have seen an increased association between ERalpha and its nuclear coactivators AIB1 or TIF-2, in MEK/MCF-7 cells relative to those seen in MCF-7 control cells. In addition, in vivo studies show that MEK/MCF-7 cell tumors are approximately threefold larger than those of MCF-7 cell, in the presence of E(2). Immunohistochemical staining demonstrates that progesterone receptor (PR) and pS2, two E(2)-regulated gene products, are significantly increased in MEK/MCF-7 cell tumors compared to those of MCF-7 control tumors, suggesting that activation of ERalpha by MAPK enhances the expression of E(2)-regulated genes and accelerates tumor growth. Remarkably, the antiestrogens tamoxifen and ICI 182,780, were shown both in vitro and in vivo studies to efficiently antagonize the stimulatory effects of E(2) on ER regulated transactivation and tumor growth in MEK/MCF-7 as well as MCF-7 cell lines. Taken together, these data suggest that MAPK/ER cross-talk enhances ERalpha-mediated signaling and accelerates E(2)-dependent tumor growth without diminishing sensitivity to the inhibitory effects of anti-estrogens.

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