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Estrogen receptor signaling is reprogrammed during breast tumorigenesis


Limited knowledge of the changes in estrogen receptor (ER) signaling during the transformation of the normal mammary gland to breast cancer hinders the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies. Differences in estrogen signaling between normal human primary breast epithelial cells and primary breast tumors obtained immediately following surgical excision were explored. Transcriptional profiling of normal ER(+) mature luminal mammary epithelial cells and ER(+) breast tumors revealed significant difference in the response to estrogen stimulation. Consistent with these differences in gene expression, the normal and tumor ER cistromes were distinct and sufficient to segregate normal breast tissues from breast tumors. The selective enrichment of the DNA binding motif GRHL2 in the breast cancer-specific ER cistrome suggests that it may play a role in the differential function of ER in breast cancer. Depletion of GRHL2 resulted in altered ER binding and differential transcriptional responses to estrogen stimulation. Furthermore, GRHL2 was demonstrated to be essential for estrogen-stimulated proliferation of ER(+) breast cancer cells. DLC1 was also identified as an estrogen-induced tumor suppressor in the normal mammary gland with decreased expression in breast cancer. In clinical cohorts, loss of DLC1 and gain of GRHL2 expression are associated with ER(+) breast cancer and are independently predictive for worse survival. This study suggests that normal ER signaling is lost and tumor-specific ER signaling is gained during breast tumorigenesis. Unraveling these changes in ER signaling during breast cancer progression should aid the development of more effective prevention strategies and targeted therapeutics.

Type Journal
ISBN 0027-8424
Authors Chi, D.; Singhal, H.; Li, L.; Xiao, T.; Liu, W.; Pun, M.; Jeselsohn, R.; He, H.; Lim, E.; Vadhi, R.; Rao, P.; Long, H.; Garber, J.; Brown, M.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Elgene Lim
Published Date 2019-06-04
Published Volume 116
Published Issue 23
Published Pages 11437-11443
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1819155116
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version