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.
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: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: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:BACKGROUND: Long-term estrogen deprivation models are widely employed in an in vitro setting to recapitulate the hormonal milieu of breast cancer patients treated with endocrine therapy. Despite the wealth information we have garnered from these models thus far, a comprehensive time-course analysis of the estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR), and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER-2/neu) receptors on the gene and protein level, coupled with expression array data is currently lacking. We aimed to address this knowledge gap in order to enhance our understanding of endocrine therapy resistance in breast cancer patients. METHODS: ER positive MCF7 and BT474 breast cancer cells were grown in estrogen depleted medium for 10 months with the ER negative MDA-MB-231 cell line employed as control. ER, PR and HER-2/neu expression were analysed at defined short and long-term time points by immunocytochemistry (ICC), and quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). Microarray analysis was performed on representative samples. RESULTS: MCF7 cells cultured in estrogen depleted medium displayed decreasing expression of ER up to 8 weeks, which was then re-expressed at 10 months. PR was also down-regulated at early time points and remained so for the duration of the study. BT474 cells generally displayed no changes in ER during the first 8 weeks of deprivation, however its expression was significantly decreased at 10 months. PR expression was also down-regulated early in BT474 samples and was absent at later time points. Finally, microarray data revealed that genes and cell processes down-regulated in both cell lines at 6 weeks overlapped with those down-regulated in aromatase inhibitor treated breast cancer patients. CONCLUSIONS: Our data demonstrate that expression of ER, PR, and cell metabolic/proliferative processes are unstable in response to long-term estrogen deprivation in breast cancer cell lines. These results mirror recent clinical findings and again emphasize the utility of LTED models in translational research.
Project description:Progesterone and estrogen are important drivers of breast cancer proliferation. Herein, we probed estrogen receptor-? (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) cross-talk in breast cancer models. Stable expression of PR-B in PR-low/ER+ MCF7 cells increased cellular sensitivity to estradiol and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), as measured in growth assays performed in the absence of exogenous progestin; similar results were obtained in PR-null/ER+ T47D cells stably expressing PR-B. Genome-wide microarray analyses revealed that unliganded PR-B induced robust expression of a subset of estradiol-responsive ER target genes, including cathepsin-D (CTSD). Estradiol-treated MCF7 cells stably expressing PR-B exhibited enhanced ER Ser167 phosphorylation and recruitment of ER, PR and the proline-, glutamate- and leucine-rich protein 1 (PELP1) to an estrogen response element in the CTSD distal promoter; this complex co-immunoprecipitated with IGF1 receptor (IGFR1) in whole-cell lysates. Importantly, ER/PR/PELP1 complexes were also detected in human breast cancer samples. Inhibition of IGF1R or phosphoinositide 3-kinase blocked PR-B-dependent CTSD mRNA upregulation in response to estradiol. Similarly, inhibition of IGF1R or PR significantly reduced ER recruitment to the CTSD promoter. Stable knockdown of endogenous PR or onapristone treatment of multiple unmodified breast cancer cell lines blocked estradiol-mediated CTSD induction, inhibited growth in soft agar and partially restored tamoxifen sensitivity of resistant cells. Further, combination treatment of breast cancer cells with both onapristone and IGF1R tyrosine kinase inhibitor AEW541 was more effective than either agent alone. In summary, unliganded PR-B enhanced proliferative responses to estradiol and IGF1 via scaffolding of ER-?/PELP1/IGF1R-containing complexes. Our data provide a strong rationale for targeting PR in combination with ER and IGF1R in patients with luminal breast cancer.
Project description: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 receptors (PR) are co-expressed in over half of estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancers and predict positive response to endocrine therapy. PR can directly and globally modify ER action to attenuate tumor growth. However, whether this suppression occurs solely through PR-ER interactions remains unknown. We assessed tumor growth in two highly ER and PR positive breast cancer patient-derived xenografts (PDX) and found that natural and synthetic progestins potently antagonize the mitogenic effects of estrogens. Here we probed the genome-wide mechanisms by which this occurs. Chronic progestin treatment reversed expression of up to half of estrogen up- and downregulated genes at the transcript level. However, fewer than a quarter of ER DNA binding events were altered by progesterone. The PR cistrome showed an interesting bimodal distribution. In the first group, more than half of PR binding sites were co-occupied by ER, with a propensity for both receptors to coordinately gain or lose binding in the presence of progesterone. In the second group, PR, but not ER, was associated with a large fraction of RNA polymerase III (Pol III)-transcribed tRNA genes regardless of hormone treatment. Furthermore, PR formed a physical association with the Pol III holoenzyme. Select tRNAs with colocalization of PR and POLR3A at their promoters were reduced in tumors grown with estrogen plus progestin compared to estrogen alone. These data uncover a mechanism in solid tumors by which PR modulates the bioavailability of translational molecules that are necessary for robust tumor growth, which could indirectly impede ER action. Overall design: Patient-derived luminal breast cancer xenografts from animals treated with placebo, estradiol (E2), E2+medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) ,E2+progesterone (P4), each in triplicate