Hes-6, an inhibitor of Hes-1, is regulated by 17β-estradiol and promotes breast cancer cell proliferation

Johan Hartman, Eric W.F. Lam, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Anders Ström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Hes-6 is a member of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) family of transcription factors, and its overexpression has been reported in metastatic cancers of different origins. Hes-6 has been described as an inhibitor of Hes-1 during neuronal development, although its function in cancer is not known. In this study, we investigated the function of Hes-6 in breast cancer and tested the hypothesis that Hes-6 enhances breast cancer cell proliferation and is regulated by estrogen.Methods: To investigate the function of Hes-6, T47D cells stably expressing Hes-6 were generated by lentiviral transduction, and conversely, siRNA also was used to knock down Hes-6 expression in breast cancer cells. The Hes-6-expressing T47D cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice to study effects on tumor growth.Results: We found that Hes-6 expression was significantly higher in the high-grade, estrogen receptor (ER)α-negative SKBR3 and MDA-MB-231 cells compared with the ERα-positive, non-metastasizing T47D and MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells. Moreover, the level of Hes-6 mRNA was 28 times higher in breast cancer samples compared with normal breast samples. In Hes-6-expressing T47D cells, Hes-6 ectopic expression was shown to stimulate cell proliferation in vitro as well as breast tumor growth in xenografts. Moreover, expression of Hes-6 resulted in induction of E2F-1, a crucial target gene for the transcriptional repressor Hes-1. Consistently, silencing of Hes-6 by siRNA resulted in downregulation of E2F-1 expression, whereas estrogen treatment caused induction of Hes-6 and downstream targets hASH-1 and E2F-1 in MCF-7 cells.Conclusions: Together, the data suggest that Hes-6 is a potential oncogene overexpressed in breast cancer, with a tumor-promoting and proliferative function. Furthermore, Hes-6 is a novel estrogen-regulated gene in breast cancer cells. An understanding of the role and regulation of Hes-6 could provide insights into estrogen signaling and endocrine resistance in breast cancer and, hence, could be important for the development of novel anticancer drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR79
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 5 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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