Regulation of Estrogen Receptor Expression in Breast Cancer

  • Mary Beth Martin
  • Miguel Saceda
  • Ralph K. Lindsey
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 330)


One of the most prevalent of cancers, breast cancer, is characterized by hormonal control of its growth. Expression of the estrogen receptor (ER) in MCF-7 breast cancer cells appears to be a complex process involving multiple steps subject to hormonal regulation by estrogen. Treatment of MCF-7 cells with estradiol results in the suppression of estrogen receptor protein. By 6 hours, the receptor protein declined by about 60% from a level of approximately 3.6 to 1.2 fmol/ug DNA and remained suppressed for 24–48 hours. Similar results were obtained with an estrogen receptor binding assay. Estrogen treatment also resulted in a decrease of receptor mRNA to approximately 10% of control values by 6 hours. Estrogen receptor remained at the suppressed level for up to 48 hours. Transcription run-on experiments demonstrated a transient decrease of about 90% in receptor gene transcription after 1 hour. By 3–6 hours transcription increased approximately 2-fold and remained elevated for at least 48 hours. These data suggest that estrogen suppresses ER mRNA by inhibition of ER gene transcription at early times and by a post-transcriptional effect on receptor mRNA at later times. To determine whether post-transcriptional regulation of ER gene expression is mediated by an ER-dependent mechanism independent of protein synthesis, we used the competitive estrogen antagonist, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, and the inhibitor of protein synthesis, cycloheximide, to study the regulation of ER mRNA by estradiol. 4-Hydroxytamoxifen had no effect on the steady-state level of receptor mRNA and effectively blocked the suppression of ER mRNA by estradiol. The metabolic inhibitor, cycloheximide, was unable to prevent the estrogen induced decrease in ER mRNA. These data provide evidence that the post-transcriptional suppression of ER expression through estradiol is mediated through the ER independent of protein synthesis.


Estrogen Receptor Receptor mRNA Estrogen Treatment RNase Protection Assay Estradiol Treatment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Beth Martin
    • 1
  • Miguel Saceda
    • 1
  • Ralph K. Lindsey
    • 1
  1. 1.Lombardi Cancer Research CenterGeorgetown UniversityUSA

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