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Prognosis of hormone-dependent breast cancers: implications of the presence of dysfunctional transcriptional networks activated by insulin via the immune transcription factor T-bet.

ABSTRACT: Estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha)-positive breast cancers that co-express transcription factors GATA-3 and FOXA1 have a favorable prognosis. These transcription factors form an autoregulatory hormonal network that influences estrogen responsiveness and sensitivity to hormonal therapy. Disruption of this network may be a mechanism whereby ERalpha-positive breast cancers become resistant to therapy. The transcription factor T-bet is a negative regulator of GATA-3 in the immune system. In this study, we report that insulin increases the expression of T-bet in breast cancer cells, which correlates with reduced expression of GATA-3, FOXA1, and the ERalpha:FOXA1:GATA-3 target gene GREB-1. The effects of insulin on GATA-3 and FOXA1 could be recapitulated through overexpression of T-bet in MCF-7 cells (MCF-7-T-bet). Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed reduced ERalpha binding to GREB-1 enhancer regions in MCF-7-T-bet cells and in insulin-treated MCF-7 cells. MCF-7-T-bet cells were resistant to tamoxifen in the presence of insulin and displayed prolonged extracellular signal-regulated kinase and AKT activation in response to epidermal growth factor treatment. ERalpha-positive cells with intrinsic tamoxifen resistance as well as MCF-7 cells with acquired tamoxifen and fulvestrant resistance expressed elevated levels of T-bet and/or reduced levels of FOXA1 and GATA-3. Analysis of publicly available databases revealed ERalpha-positive/T-bet-positive breast cancers expressing lower levels of FOXA1 (P = 0.0137) and GATA-3 (P = 0.0063) compared with ERalpha-positive/T-bet-negative breast cancers. Thus, T-bet expression in primary tumors and circulating insulin levels may serve as surrogate biomarkers to identify ERalpha-positive breast cancers with a dysfunctional hormonal network, enhanced growth factor signaling, and resistance to hormonal therapy.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2807987 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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