Alterations in Transforming Growth Factor-α and -β Production and Cell Responsiveness during the Progression of MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cells to Estrogen-Autonomous Growth

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Abstract

Hormonal management of breast cancer is confounded by an almost inevitable progression of cell growth from a steroid-regulated to a steroid-autonomous state. We have experimentally induced this progression in the estrogen growth-responsive MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line by long-term culture in the absence of steroids. After an initial period (10-12 weeks) of slowed growth in response to steroid deprivation, rapid, steroid-independent growth rates were consistently established. In these cells, which contained 3-fold elevated, functional estrogen receptor levels (as determined by induction of PgR and transactivation of a transiently transfected estrogen-responsive gene construct), antiestrogens still effectively suppressed cell proliferation, although estrogens only minimally Increased the proliferation rate. Depletion of steroids from the growth media also resulted In a marked (70-80%) transient decrease in transforming growth factor (TGF) α mRNA and TGF-α protein production at 2 weeks that was followed by a progressive, partial return to the initial parental TGF-α mRNA and protein levels. In contrast, the mRNAs for TGF-β1, -β2, and-β3 and bioactive TGF-β proteins transiently increased (3-10-fold) at 2 to 10 weeks of steroid deprivation and then returned by 24 weeks to the lower levels of the parental MCF-7 cells. These results suggest that the cells acquired steroid-independent means to regulate the production of these peptides. The long-term steroid-deprived sublines showed a loss of regulation of proliferation by TGF-α or anti-TGF-α antibodies and a 10-fold decrease in sensitivity to the growth-suppressive effects of TGF-β1, despite little change In receptor levels for these factors. The diminished contributions of TGF-α and TGF-βs to the regulation of cell proliferation In long-term steroid-deprived MCF-7 breast cancer cells suggest that the TGFs do not act as major growth regulators in these estrogen-autonomous sublines. However, the marked, transient alterations in the levels of these growth factors indicate that they may play a role in the events which accompany the progression from estrogen-responsive to estrogen-autonomous growth. In addition, continued exposure to estrogen may be needed for the long-term maintenance of cell responsiveness to these TGFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5867-5874
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Volume54
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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