Progestin suppression of miR-29 potentiates dedifferentiation of breast cancer cells via KLF4.
ABSTRACT: The female hormone progesterone (P4) promotes the expansion of stem-like cancer cells in estrogen receptor (ER)- and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive breast tumors. The expanded tumor cells lose expression of ER and PR, express the tumor-initiating marker CD44, the progenitor marker cytokeratin 5 (CK5) and are more resistant to standard endocrine and chemotherapies. The mechanisms underlying this hormone-stimulated reprogramming have remained largely unknown. In the present study, we investigated the role of microRNAs in progestin-mediated expansion of this dedifferentiated tumor cell population. We demonstrate that P4 rapidly downregulates miR-29 family members, particularly in the CD44(+) cell population. Downregulation of miR-29 members potentiates the expansion of CK5(+) and CD44(+) cells in response to progestins, and results in increased stem-like properties in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that miR-29 directly targets Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4), a transcription factor required for the reprogramming of differentiated cells to pluripotent stem cells, and for the maintenance of breast cancer stem cells. These results reveal a novel mechanism, whereby progestins increase the stem cell-like population in hormone-responsive breast cancers, by decreasing miR-29 to augment PR-mediated upregulation of KLF4. Elucidating the mechanisms whereby hormones mediate the expansion of stem-like cells furthers our understanding of the progression of hormone-responsive breast cancers.
Project description:Progesterone (P4) has emerged as an important hormone-regulating mammary stem cell (MaSC) populations. In breast cancer, P4 and synthetic analogs increase the number of stem-like cells within luminal estrogen receptor (ER)- and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive breast cancers. These cells gain expression of de-differentiated cell markers CD44 and cytokeratin 5 (CK5), lose luminal markers ER and PR, and are more therapy resistant. We previously described that P4 downregulation of microRNA (miR)-29a contributes to the expansion of CD44(high) and CK5(+) cells. Here we investigated P4 downregulation of miR-141, a member of the miR-200 family of tumor suppressors, in facilitating an increase in stem-like breast cancer cells. miR-141 was the sole member of the miR-200 family P4-downregulated at the mature miRNA level in luminal breast cancer cell lines. Stable inhibition of miR-141 alone increased the CD44(high) population, and potentiated P4-mediated increases in both CD44(high) and CK5(+) cells. Loss of miR-141 enhanced both mammosphere formation and tumor initiation. miR-141 directly targeted both PR and signal transducer and activator of transcription 5A (Stat5a), transcription factors important for MaSC expansion. miR-141 depletion increased PR protein levels, even in cell lines where PR expression is estrogen dependent. Stat5a suppression via small interfering RNA or a small-molecule inhibitor reduced the P4-dependent increase in CK5(+) and CD44(high) cells. These data support a mechanism by which P4-triggered loss of miR-141 facilitates breast cancer cell de-differentiation through deregulation of PR and Stat5a, two transcription factors important for controlling mammary cell fate.
Project description:Breast cancers expressing hormone receptors for estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) represent ~70% of all cases and are treated with both ER-targeted and chemotherapies, with near 40% becoming resistant. We have previously described that in some ER(+) tumors, the resistant cells express cytokeratin 5 (CK5), a putative marker of breast stem and progenitor cells. CK5(+) cells have lost expression of ER and PR, express the tumor-initiating cell surface marker CD44, and are relatively quiescent. In addition, progestins, which increase breast cancer incidence, expand the CK5(+) subpopulation in ER(+)PR(+) breast cancer cell lines. We have developed models to induce and quantitate CK5(+)ER(-)PR(-) cells, using CK5 promoter-driven luciferase (Fluc) or green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporters stably transduced into T47D breast cancer cells (CK5Pro-GFP or CK5Pro-Luc). We validated the CK5Pro-GFP-T47D model for high-content screening in 96-well microplates and performed a pilot screen using a focused library of 280 compounds from the National Institutes of Health clinical collection. Four hits were obtained that significantly abrogated the progestin-induced CK5(+) cell population, three of which were members of the retinoid family. Hence, this approach will be useful in discovering small molecules that could potentially be developed as combination therapies, preventing the acquisition of a drug-resistant subpopulation.
Project description:Progestins play a deleterious role in the onset of breast cancer, yet their influence on existing breast cancer and tumor progression is not well understood. In luminal estrogen receptor (ER)- and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive breast cancer, progestins induce a fraction of cells to express cytokeratin 5 (CK5), a marker of basal epithelial and progenitor cells in the normal breast. CK5(+) cells lose expression of ER and PR and are relatively quiescent, increasing their resistance to endocrine and chemotherapy compared to intratumoral CK5(-)ER(+)PR(+) cells. Characterization of live CK5(+) cells has been hampered by a lack of means for their direct isolation. Here, we describe optical (GFP) and bioluminescent (luciferase) reporter models to quantitate and isolate CK5(+) cells in luminal breast cancer cell lines utilizing the human KRT5 gene promoter and a viral vector approach. Using this system, we confirmed that the induction of GFP(+)/CK5(+) cells is specific to progestins, is dependent on PR, can be blocked by antiprogestins, and does not occur with other steroid hormones. Progestin-induced, fluorescence-activated cell sorting-isolated CK5(+) cells had lower ER and PR mRNA, were slower cycling, and were relatively more invasive and sphere forming than their CK5(-) counterparts in vitro. Repeated progestin treatment and selection of GFP(+) cells enriched for a persistent population of CK5(+) cells, suggesting that this transition can be semi-permanent. These data support that in PR(+) breast cancers, progestins induce a subpopulation of CK5(+)ER(-)PR(-) cells with enhanced progenitor properties and have implications for treatment resistance and recurrence in luminal breast cancer.
Project description:There are two major subtypes of human breast cancers: the luminal, estrogen, and progesterone receptor-positive, cytokeratin 18-positive (ER(+)PR(+)CK18(+)) subtype, and the basal ER(-)PR(-)CK18(-)CK5(+) subtype. Tumor-initiating cells (CD44(+)) have been described for human breast cancers; whether these are common to the two subtypes is unknown. We have identified a rare population of cells that are both CD44(+) and ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) in luminal-like ER(+)PR(+) T47D human breast tumor xenografts. The tumor-isolated CD44(+) cell fraction was highly enriched for clonogenic (in vitro culture) and tumorigenic (in vivo reimplantation) cells compared with the CD44(-) cell fraction. Rare ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) cells were present within CD44(+)-derived colonies. Tumor-isolated cells placed in minimal media also contained rare ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) cells at early time points (<10 cells); however, this population did not expand with increasing colony size. The number of ER(+)PR(+)CK5(-) cells, conversely, increased linearly with colony growth. Similary, tumors originating in vivo from CD44(+) cells contained a rare static ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) population, an intermediate ER(-)PR(-)CK5(-) population, and an expanding ER(+)PR(+)CK5(-) population. Putative ER(+)PR(+)CK5(+) transitional cells could be seen only in colonies or tumors treated with a progestin. We propose that luminal ER(+)PR(+) breast tumors contain a minor ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) population that has the capacity to generate the majority of ER(+)PR(+)CK18(+)CK5(-) cells. Luminal breast cancers are treated with endocrine therapies that target ER. The rare ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) progenitor cells would escape such treatments and survive to repopulate the tumor.
Project description:Estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancers often contain subpopulations of cells that express the intermediate filament protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5). CK5+ cells are enriched in cancer stem cell (CSC) properties, can be induced by progestins, and predict poor prognosis in ER+ breast cancer. We established through CK5 knockout and overexpression in ER+ breast cancer cell lines that CK5 is important for tumorsphere formation, prompting us to speculate that CK5 has regulatory activity in CSCs. To interrogate CK5 interacting proteins that may be functionally cooperative, we performed immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry for CK5 in ER+ breast cancer cells. Focusing on proteins with signaling activity, we identified ?-catenin, a key transcription factor of the Wnt signaling pathway and cell adhesion molecule, as a CK5 interactor, which we confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation in several breast cancer models. We interrogated the dual functions of ?-catenin in relation to CK5. Knockout or knockdown of CK5 ablated ?-catenin transcriptional activity in response to progestins and Wnt stimuli. Conversely, CK5 induced by progestins or overexpression was sufficient to promote the loss of ?-catenin at the cell membrane and total E-cadherin loss. A breast cancer patient-derived xenograft showed similar loss of membrane ?-catenin and E-cadherin in CK5+ but not intratumoral CK5- cells and single-cell RNA sequencing found the top enriched pathways in the CK5+ cell cluster were cell junction remodeling and signaling. This report highlights that CK5 actively remodels cell morphology and that blockade of CK5-?-catenin interaction may reverse the detrimental properties of CK5+ breast cancer cells.
Project description:Therapy resistance remains a major problem in estrogen receptor-? (ER?)-positive breast cancer. A subgroup of ER?-positive breast cancer is characterized by mosaic presence of a minor population of ER?-negative cancer cells expressing the basal cytokeratin-5 (CK5). These CK5-positive cells are therapy resistant and have increased tumor-initiating potential. Although a series of reports document induction of the CK5-positive cells by progestins, it is unknown if other 3-ketosteroids share this ability. We now report that glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids effectively expand the CK5-positive cell population. CK5-positive cells induced by 3-ketosteroids lacked ER? and progesterone receptors, expressed stem cell marker, CD44, and displayed increased clonogenicity in soft agar and broad drug-resistance in vitro and in vivo. Upregulation of CK5-positive cells by 3-ketosteroids required induction of the transcriptional repressor BCL6 based on suppression of BCL6 by two independent BCL6 small hairpin RNAs or by prolactin. Prolactin also suppressed 3-ketosteroid induction of CK5+ cells in T47D xenografts in vivo. Survival analysis with recursive partitioning in node-negative ER?-positive breast cancer using quantitative CK5 and BCL6 mRNA or protein expression data identified patients at high or low risk for tumor recurrence in two independent patient cohorts. The data provide a mechanism by which common pathophysiological or pharmacologic elevations in glucocorticoids or other 3-ketosteroids may adversely affect patients with mixed ER?+/CK5+ breast cancer. The observations further suggest a cooperative diagnostic utility of CK5 and BCL6 expression levels and justify exploring efficacy of inhibitors of BCL6 and 3-ketosteroid receptors for a subset of ER?-positive breast cancers.
Project description:Half of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers contain a subpopulation of cytokeratin 5 (CK5)-expressing cells that are therapy resistant and exhibit increased cancer stem cell (CSC) properties. We and others have demonstrated that progesterone (P4) increases CK5+ breast cancer cells. We previously discovered that retinoids block P4 induction of CK5+ cells. Here we investigated the mechanisms by which progesterone receptors (PR) and retinoic acid receptors (RAR) regulate CK5 expression and breast CSC activity. After P4 treatment, sorted CK5+ compared to CK5- cells were more tumorigenic in vivo. In vitro, P4-treated breast cancer cells formed larger mammospheres and silencing of CK5 using small hairpin RNA abolished this P4-dependent increase in mammosphere size. Retinoic acid (RA) treatment blocked the P4 increase in CK5+ cells and prevented the P4 increase in mammosphere size. Dual small interfering RNA (siRNA) silencing of RAR? and RAR? reversed RA blockade of P4-induced CK5. Using promoter deletion analysis, we identified a region 1.1?kb upstream of the CK5 transcriptional start site that is necessary for P4 activation and contains a putative progesterone response element (PRE). We confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation that P4 recruits PR to the CK5 promoter near the -1.1?kb essential PRE, and also to a proximal region near -130?bp that contains PRE half-sites and a RA response element (RARE). RA induced loss of PR binding only at the proximal site. Interestingly, RAR? was recruited to the -1.1?kb PRE and the -130?bp PRE/RARE regions with P4, but not RA alone or RA plus P4. Treatment of breast cancer xenografts in vivo with the retinoid fenretinide reduced the accumulation of CK5+ cells during estrogen depletion. This reduction, together with the inhibition of CK5+ cell expansion through RAR/PR cross talk, may explain the efficacy of retinoids in prevention of some breast cancer recurrences.
Project description:Luminal breast cancers express estrogen (ER) and/or progesterone (PR) receptors and respond to hormone therapies. Basal-like "triple negative" cancers lack steroid receptors but are cytokeratin (CK) 5-positive and require chemotherapy. Here we show that more than half of primary ER(+)PR(+) breast cancers contain an ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) "luminobasal" subpopulation exceeding 1% of cells. Starting from ER(+)PR(+) luminal cell lines, we generated lines with varying luminal to luminobasal cell ratios and studied their molecular and biological properties. In luminal disease, luminobasal cells expand in response to antiestrogen or estrogen withdrawal therapies. The phenotype and gene signature of the hormone-resistant cells matches that of clinical triple negative basal-like and claudin-low disease. Luminobasal cell expansion in response to hormone therapies is regulated by Notch1 signaling and can be blocked by ?-secretase inhibitors. Our data establish a previously unrecognized plasticity of ER(+)PR(+) luminal breast cancers that, without genetic manipulation, mobilizes outgrowth of hormone-resistant basal-like disease in response to treatment. This undesirable outcome can be prevented by combining endocrine therapies with Notch inhibition.
Project description:Progesterone receptors (PRs) mediate response to progestins in the normal breast and breast cancer. To determine if liganded PR regulate microRNAs (miRNAs) as a component of their action, we profiled mature miRNA levels following progestin treatment. Indeed, 28 miRNAs are significantly altered by 6h of progestin treatment. Many progestin-responsive genes are putative targets of progestin-regulated miRNAs; for example, progestin treatment decreases miR-29, thereby relieving repression of one of its direct targets, the gene encoding ATPase, Na(+)/K(+) transporting, beta 1 polypeptide (ATP1B1). Thus, liganded PR regulates ATP1B1 through sites in the promoter and the 3'UTR, to achieve maximal tight hormonal regulation of ATP1B1 protein via both transcriptional and translational control. We find that ATP1B1 serves to limit migration and invasion in breast cancer cells. Lastly, we demonstrate that PR itself is regulated by a progestin-upregulated miRNA, miR-513a-5p, providing a novel mechanism for tight control of PR protein expression.
Project description:Overexpression of the progesterone receptor (PR) isoform A (PR-A) is a negative prognosticator for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer but in vitro studies have implicated PR-B in progestin-induced invasiveness. As estrogen is known to suppress invasiveness and tumor progression and as the in vitro studies were conducted in models that either lacked ER or excluded estrogen, we examined the role of PR isoforms in the context of estrogen signaling. Estrogen (< 0.01nM) strongly suppressed invasiveness in various ER+ model cell lines. At low (< 1nM) concentrations, progestins completely abrogated inhibition of invasiveness by estrogen. It was only in a higher (5 nM - 50 nM) concentration range that progestins induced invasiveness in the absence of estrogen. The ability of low dose progestins to rescue invasiveness from estrogen regulation was exclusively mediated by PR-A, whereas PR-B mediated the estrogen-independent component of progestin-induced invasiveness. Overexpression of PR-A lowered the progestin concentration needed to completely rescue invasiveness. Among estrogen-regulated genes, progestin/PR-A counter-regulated a distinctive subset, including breast tumor progression genes (e.g., HES1, PRKCH, ELF5, TM4SF1), leading to invasiveness. In this manner, at relatively low hormone concentrations (corresponding to follicular stage and post-menopausal breast tissue or plasma levels), progesterone influences breast cancer cell invasiveness by rescuing it from estrogen regulation via PR-A, whereas at higher concentrations the hormone also induces invasiveness independent of estrogen signaling, through PR-B. The findings point to a direct functional link between PR-A and progression of luminal breast cancer in the context of the entire range of pre- and post-menopausal plasma and breast tissue hormone levels.