Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Analysis and Action in Breast Cancer

  • Geoffrey L. Greene
  • Paul Gilna
  • Peter Kushner


The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms responsible for the hormonal regulation of cell proliferation in breast cancer has been the object of intense research. Because most breast cancers are initially dependent upon estrogens for continued growth, much of this research has focused on the role of estrogen receptor (ER) in the control of gene expression and mitosis1, and on its use as marker for hormone responsiveness and prognosis.2 In addition, progesterone receptor (PR), as both a mediator of hormonal responses and as a product of estrogen action on breast cancer cells, has been studied extensively as a tumor marker3 and in terms of its regulation by estrogen agonists and antagonists4. Although its function in breast cancer is unknown, the presence as well as the induction of PR has been coupled to estrogen-induced proliferative responses in breast cancer cells. An improved understanding of the function and regulation of expression of these transcription factors is emerging from studies of the structure, composition and dynamics of the receptor proteins and the genes that encode them. The recent cloning and molecular analysis of all of the known steroid receptors has led to the definition of common functional domains and a proposed mechanism by which they interact with responsive genes, via cis-acting DNA enhancer elements, in normal and neoplastic tissues5. For ER and PR, these studies have been aided by the availability of a number of monoclonal antibody probes directed against specific regions of each receptor6,7. In addition, the same antibodies have been used to develop validated quantitative and histochemical immunoassays for ER and PR in a variety of hormoneresponsive tissues and related cancers8,9,10


Progesterone Receptor Glucocorticoid Receptor Steroid Receptor Estrogen Response Element Human Estrogen Receptor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey L. Greene
    • 1
  • Paul Gilna
    • 1
  • Peter Kushner
    • 2
  1. 1.The Ben May InstituteThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Metabolic Research UnitUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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