Expression of human estrogen receptor using an efficient adenoviral gene delivery system is able to restore hormone-dependent features to estrogen receptor-negative breast carcinoma cells

Gwendal Lazennec, Benita S. Katzenellenbogen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast carcinomas are often difficult to treat as they do not respond to hormone therapy. In an attempt to determine if expressing the human estrogen receptor in an ectopic manner could restore the hormone responsiveness of these cells, we have expressed the human ER in ER-negative MDA-MB 231 breast cancer cells using a recombinant adenovirus gene delivery system that allows high level expression of ER in essentially all cells. In these cells, the ER was correctly translated, had a wild type hormone binding affinity (K(d) = 0.6 nM), bound well to estrogen response element-containing DNA, and showed an activation pattern of estrogen response element-reporter gene activity by estrogen and antiestrogens very similar to that observed in MCF-7 breast cancer cells containing endogenous ER (stimulation by estrogen, no stimulation by the antiestrogens trans- hydroxytamoxifen or ICI 164384, and blockade of estradiol stimulation by trans-hydroxytamoxifen or ICI 164384). Intriguingly, estradiol stimulation of these cells was also able to induce expression of pS2, an estrogen regulated gene considered to be a favorable prognostic marker for endocrine therapy in ER-positive breast cancer cells. Expression of the ER had no effect by itself on the proliferation rate of MDA-MB 231 cells. However, treatment of the ER- containing cells with estradiol or with the pure antiestrogen ICI 164 384 suppressed proliferation of the cells while the antiestrogen trans- hydroxytamoxifen had little effect on proliferation; and cotreatment with trans-hydroxytamoxifen reversed the estradiol- or ICI 164384-evoked suppression of proliferation. To understand the mechanism underlying the inhibition of proliferation by estradiol, we examined the expression of several growth related endogenous genes, c-Myc protooncogene expression was strongly inhibited by treatment with estradiol as was expression of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which is in agreement with their mitogenic-dependent expression, while expression of β-actin, a housekeeping gene, was not affected by hormone treatment. Together, these data suggest that reexpressing the human ER in breast cancer cells that no longer express this protein renders them sensitive to hormone treatment. The ability of the antiestrogen ICI 164 384 to suppress the proliferation of ER-negative breast cancer cells that reexpress ER might be useful ultimately as an endocrine gene therapy approach for controlling the growth of ER-negative breast cancer cells. The application of recombinant adenoviruses expressing the human ER presents interesting features which might be used as a basis for designing more powerful and effective treatments for ER-negative breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 25 1999


  • Adenovirus
  • Antiestrogen
  • Breast cancer
  • Cell proliferation
  • Estrogen
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Gene expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of human estrogen receptor using an efficient adenoviral gene delivery system is able to restore hormone-dependent features to estrogen receptor-negative breast carcinoma cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this