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Open Access Research

Extranuclear ERα is associated with regression of T47D PKCα-overexpressing, tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer

Bethany Perez White1, Mary Ellen Molloy1, Huiping Zhao1, Yiyun Zhang2 and Debra A Tonetti1*

  • * Corresponding author: Debra A Tonetti dtonetti@uic.edu

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 833 S. Wood Street, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

2 Current address: Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA

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Molecular Cancer 2013, 12:34  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-12-34

Published: 1 May 2013

Abstract

Background

Prior to the introduction of tamoxifen, high dose estradiol was used to treat breast cancer patients with similar efficacy as tamoxifen, albeit with some undesirable side effects. There is renewed interest to utilize estradiol to treat endocrine resistant breast cancers, especially since findings from several preclinical models and clinical trials indicate that estradiol may be a rational second-line therapy in patients exhibiting resistance to tamoxifen and/or aromatase inhibitors. We and others reported that breast cancer patients bearing protein kinase C alpha (PKCα)- expressing tumors exhibit endocrine resistance and tumor aggressiveness. Our T47D:A18/PKCα preclinical model is tamoxifen-resistant, hormone-independent, yet is inhibited by 17β-estradiol (E2) in vivo. We previously reported that E2-induced T47D:A18/PKCα tumor regression requires extranuclear ERα and interaction with the extracellular matrix.

Methods

T47D:A18/PKCα cells were grown in vitro using two-dimensional (2D) cell culture, three-dimensional (3D) Matrigel and in vivo by establishing xenografts in athymic mice. Immunofluoresence confocal microscopy and co-localization were applied to determine estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) subcellular localization. Co-immunoprecipitation and western blot were used to examine interaction of ERα with caveolin-1.

Results

We report that although T47D:A18/PKCα cells are cross-resistant to raloxifene in cell culture and in Matrigel, raloxifene induces regression of tamoxifen-resistant tumors. ERα rapidly translocates to extranuclear sites during T47D:A18/PKCα tumor regression in response to both raloxifene and E2, whereas ERα is primarily localized in the nucleus in proliferating tumors. E2 treatment induced complete tumor regression whereas cessation of raloxifene treatment resulted in tumor regrowth accompanied by re-localization of ERα to the nucleus. T47D:A18/neo tumors that do not overexpress PKCα maintain ERα in the nucleus during tamoxifen-mediated regression. An association between ERα and caveolin-1 increases in tumors regressing in response to E2.

Conclusions

Extranuclear ERα plays a role in the regression of PKCα-overexpressing tamoxifen-resistant tumors. These studies underline the unique role of extranuclear ERα in E2- and raloxifene-induced tumor regression that may have implications for treatment of endocrine-resistant PKCα-expressing tumors encountered in the clinic.

Keywords:
Breast cancer; PKCα; Extranuclear ERα; Tamoxifen; Raloxifene