Estrogen receptor beta as a novel target of androgen receptor action in breast cancer cell lines

Pietro Rizza, Ines Barone, Domenico Zito, Francesca Giordano, Marilena Lanzino, Francesca De Amicis, Loredana Mauro, Diego Sisci, Stefania Catalano, Karin Dahlman Wright, Jan ake Gustafsson, Sebastiano Andò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Introduction: The two isoforms of estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and beta play opposite roles in regulating proliferation and differentiation of breast cancers, with ER-alpha mediating mitogenic effects and ER-beta acting as a tumor suppressor. Emerging data have reported that androgen receptor (AR) activation inhibits ER-positive breast cancer progression mainly by antagonizing ER-alpha signaling. However, to date no studies have specifically evaluated a potential involvement of ER-beta in the inhibitory effects of androgens.Methods: ER-beta expression was examined in human breast cancer cell lines using real-time PCR, Western blotting and small interfering RNA (siRNA) assays. Mutagenesis studies, electromobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis were performed to assess the effects of mibolerone/AR on ER-beta promoter activity and binding.Results: In this study, we demonstrate that mibolerone, a synthetic androgen ligand, up-regulates ER-beta mRNA and protein levels in ER-positive breast cancer cells. Transient transfection experiments, using a vector containing the human ER-beta promoter region, show that mibolerone increases basal ER-beta promoter activity. Site-directed mutagenesis and deletion analysis reveal that an androgen response element (ARE), TGTTCT motif located at positions -383 and -377, is critical for mibolerone-induced ER-beta up-regulation in breast cancer cells. This occurs through an increased recruitment of AR to the ARE site within the ER-beta promoter region, along with an enhanced occupancy of RNA polymerase II. Finally, silencing of ER-beta gene expression by RNA interference is able to partially reverse the effects of mibolerone on cell proliferation, p21 and cyclin D1 expression.Conclusions: Collectively, these data provide evidence for a novel mechanism by which activated AR, through an up-regulation of ER-beta gene expression, inhibits breast cancer cell growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR21
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 19 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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