ERβ alters the chemosensitivity of luminal breast cancer cells by regulating p53 function

Igor Bado, Eric Pham, Benjamin Soibam, Fotis Nikolos, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Christoforos Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Estrogen receptor α (ERα)-positive breast cancers tend to develop resistance to both endocrine therapy and chemotherapy. Despite recent progress in defining molecular pathways that confer endocrine resistance, the mechanisms that regulate chemotherapy response in luminal tumors remain largely elusive. Luminal tumors often express wild-type p53 that is a major determinant of the cellular DNA damage response. Similar to p53, the second ER subtype, ERβ, has been reported to inhibit breast tumorigenesis by acting alone or in collaboration with p53. However, a synergistic mechanism of action has not been described. Here, we suggest that ERβ relies on p53 to elicit its tumor repressive actions in ERa-positive breast cancer cells. Upregulation of ERβ and treatment with ERβ agonists potentiates the tumor suppressor function of p53 resulting in decreased survival. This effect requires molecular interaction between the two proteins that disrupts the inhibitory action of ERa on p53 leading to increased transcriptional activity of p53. In addition, we show that the same interaction alters the chemosensitivity of endocrine-resistant cells including their response to tamoxifen therapy. Our results suggest a collaboration of ERβ and p53 tumor suppressor activity in breast cancer cells that indicates the importance of ligand-regulated ERβ as a tool to target p53 activity and improve the clinical management of resistant disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22509-22522
Number of pages14
Issue number32
StatePublished - Apr 27 2018


  • Breast cancer
  • DNA damage response
  • Estrogen receptor β
  • P53
  • Therapy response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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