Mechanisms of inhibitory aryl hydrocarbon receptor-estrogen receptor crosstalk in human breast cancer cells

S. Safe, M. Wormke, I. Samudio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)3 is a ligand-activated transcription factor that forms a functional heterodimeric complex with the AhR nuclear translocator (Arnt) protein. The environmental toxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), is a high affinity ligand for the AhR and has been extensively used to investigate AhR-mediated biochemical and toxic responses. TCDD modulates several endocrine pathways including inhibition of 17β-estradiol-induced responses in the immature and ovariectomized rodent uterus and mammary gland and in human breast cancer cell lines. TCDD inhibits formation and growth of mammary tumors in carcinogen-induced rodent models and relatively nontoxic selective AhR modulators (SAhRMs) are being developed for treatment of breast cancer. The mechanisms of inhibitory AhR-estrogen receptor (ER) crosstalk have been investigated in MCF-7 breast cancer cells by analysis of promoter regions of genes induced by E2 and inhibited by TCDD. AhR-mediated inhibition of E2-induced cathepsin D, pS2, c-fos, and heat shock protein 27 gene expression involves direct interaction of the AhR complex with inhibitory pentanucleotide (GCGTG) dioxin responsive elements (iDREs) resulting in disruption of interactions between proteins binding DNA elements required for ER action and the basal transcription machinery. Mechanisms of inhibitory AhR-ER crosstalk indicate that functional iDREs are required for inhibition of some genes; however, results indicate that other interaction pathways are important including AhR-mediated proteasome-dependent degradation of the ER.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Ah receptor
  • ERα
  • Inhibitory crosstalk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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