Logo of envhperEnvironmental Health PerspectivesBrowse ArticlesAbout EHPGeneral InformationAuthorsMediaProgramsPartnerships
Environ Health Perspect. 1995 Sep; 103(9): 844–850.
PMCID: PMC1519213
Research Article

The E-screen assay: a comparison of different MCF7 cell stocks.


MCF7 human breast cancer cells have been studied extensively as a model for hormonal effects on breast cancer cell growth and specific protein synthesis. Because the proliferative effect of natural estrogen is considered the hallmark of estrogen action, it was proposed that this property be used to determine whether a substance is an estrogen. The E-screen assay, developed for this purpose, is based on the ability of MCF7 cells to proliferate in the presence of estrogens. The aim of our study was to characterize the response of four MCF7 cell stocks (BUS, ATCC, BB, and BB104) and determine which of them performed best in the E-screen test. The four stocks assayed were distinguishable by their biological behavior. In the absence of estrogen, MCF7 BUS cells stopped proliferating and accumulated in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle; estrogen receptors increased, progesterone receptors decreased, and small amounts of pS2 protein were secreted. Of all the MCF7 stocks tested, MCF7 BUS cells showed the highest proliferative response to estradiol-17 beta: cell yields increased up to sixfold over those of nontreated cells in a 144-hr period. The differences between estrogen-supplemented and nonsupplemented MCF7 BUS cells were due mostly to G0/G1 proliferative arrest mediated by charcoal dextran-stripped serum. MCF7 BUS cell stocks and others showing a similar proliferative pattern should be chosen for use in the E-screen test, or whenever a proliferative effect of estrogen is to be demonstrated.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (3.0M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Soto AM, Justicia H, Wray JW, Sonnenschein C. p-Nonyl-phenol: an estrogenic xenobiotic released from "modified" polystyrene. Environ Health Perspect. 1991 May;92:167–173. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Krishnan AV, Stathis P, Permuth SF, Tokes L, Feldman D. Bisphenol-A: an estrogenic substance is released from polycarbonate flasks during autoclaving. Endocrinology. 1993 Jun;132(6):2279–2286. [PubMed]
  • Soto AM, Sonnenschein C. The role of estrogens on the proliferation of human breast tumor cells (MCF-7). J Steroid Biochem. 1985 Jul;23(1):87–94. [PubMed]
  • Soule HD, Vazguez J, Long A, Albert S, Brennan M. A human cell line from a pleural effusion derived from a breast carcinoma. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1973 Nov;51(5):1409–1416. [PubMed]
  • Osborne CK, Hobbs K, Trent JM. Biological differences among MCF-7 human breast cancer cell lines from different laboratories. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1987;9(2):111–121. [PubMed]
  • Skehan P, Storeng R, Scudiero D, Monks A, McMahon J, Vistica D, Warren JT, Bokesch H, Kenney S, Boyd MR. New colorimetric cytotoxicity assay for anticancer-drug screening. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1990 Jul 4;82(13):1107–1112. [PubMed]
  • Brünner N, Frandsen TL, Holst-Hansen C, Bei M, Thompson EW, Wakeling AE, Lippman ME, Clarke R. MCF7/LCC2: a 4-hydroxytamoxifen resistant human breast cancer variant that retains sensitivity to the steroidal antiestrogen ICI 182,780. Cancer Res. 1993 Jul 15;53(14):3229–3232. [PubMed]
  • Katzenellenbogen BS, Norman MJ, Eckert RL, Peltz SW, Mangel WF. Bioactivities, estrogen receptor interactions, and plasminogen activator-inducing activities of tamoxifen and hydroxy-tamoxifen isomers in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Cancer Res. 1984 Jan;44(1):112–119. [PubMed]
  • Catherino WH, Jeng MH, Jordan VC. Norgestrel and gestodene stimulate breast cancer cell growth through an oestrogen receptor mediated mechanism. Br J Cancer. 1993 May;67(5):945–952. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lykkesfeldt AE, Laursen I, Briand P. Regulation of the secretion of proteins synthesized by the human breast cancer cell line, MCF-7. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1989 Apr;62(2):287–296. [PubMed]
  • Zajchowski DA, Sager R, Webster L. Estrogen inhibits the growth of estrogen receptor-negative, but not estrogen receptor-positive, human mammary epithelial cells expressing a recombinant estrogen receptor. Cancer Res. 1993 Oct 15;53(20):5004–5011. [PubMed]
  • Devleeschouwer N, Legros N, Olea-Serrano N, Paridaens R, Leclercq G. Estrogen conjugates and serum factors mediating the estrogenic trophic effect on MCF-7 cell growth. Cancer Res. 1987 Nov 15;47(22):5883–5887. [PubMed]
  • Page MJ, Field JK, Everett NP, Green CD. Serum regulation of the estrogen responsiveness of the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Cancer Res. 1983 Mar;43(3):1244–1250. [PubMed]
  • Schütze N, Vollmer G, Tiemann I, Geiger M, Knuppen R. Catecholestrogens are MCF-7 cell estrogen receptor agonists. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1993 Dec;46(6):781–789. [PubMed]
  • Pourreau-Schneider N, Berthois Y, Mittre H, Charpin C, Jacquemier J, Martin PM. Estrogen response of MCF-7 cells grown on diverse substrates and in suspension culture: promotion of morphological heterogeneity, modulation of progestin receptor induction; cell-substrate interactions on collagen gels. J Steroid Biochem. 1984 Dec;21(6):763–771. [PubMed]
  • Taylor CM, Blanchard B, Zava DT. Estrogen receptor-mediated and cytotoxic effects of the antiestrogens tamoxifen and 4-hydroxytamoxifen. Cancer Res. 1984 Apr;44(4):1409–1414. [PubMed]
  • del Moral R, Ruiz de Almodóvar JM, Fernández JC, López-González JD, Villalba J, Olea N, Pedraza V. Relationship between proliferative activity and cellular hormono-dependence in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. Rev Esp Fisiol. 1990 Sep;46(3):247–253. [PubMed]
  • Bronzert DA, Triche TJ, Gleason P, Lippman ME. Isolation and characterization of an estrogen-inhibited variant derived from the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. Cancer Res. 1984 Sep;44(9):3942–3951. [PubMed]
  • Natoli C, Sica G, Natoli V, Serra A, Iacobelli S. Two new estrogen-supersensitive variants of the MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1983;3(1):23–32. [PubMed]
  • Baker PR, Wilton JC, Jones CE, Stenzel DJ, Watson N, Smith GJ. Bile acids influence the growth, oestrogen receptor and oestrogen-regulated proteins of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Br J Cancer. 1992 Apr;65(4):566–572. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pratt SE, Pollak MN. Estrogen and antiestrogen modulation of MCF7 human breast cancer cell proliferation is associated with specific alterations in accumulation of insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins in conditioned media. Cancer Res. 1993 Nov 1;53(21):5193–5198. [PubMed]
  • van der Burg B, Kalkhoven E, Isbrücker L, de Laat SW. Effects of progestins on the proliferation of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer cells under growth factor-defined conditions. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1992 Jun;42(5):457–465. [PubMed]
  • Lottering ML, Haag M, Seegers JC. Effects of 17 beta-estradiol metabolites on cell cycle events in MCF-7 cells. Cancer Res. 1992 Nov 1;52(21):5926–5932. [PubMed]
  • Ruedl C, Cappelletti V, Coradini D, Granata G, Di Fronzo G. Influence of culture conditions on the estrogenic cell growth stimulation of human breast cancer cells. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1990 Oct;37(2):195–200. [PubMed]
  • Bezwoda WR, Meyer K. Effect of alpha-interferon, 17 beta-estradiol, and tamoxifen on estrogen receptor concentration and cell cycle kinetics of MCF 7 cells. Cancer Res. 1990 Sep 1;50(17):5387–5391. [PubMed]
  • Prévost G, Foehrlé E, Thomas F, Pihan I, Veber N, Starzec A, Israël L. Growth of human breast cancer cell lines is inhibited by the somatostatin analog BIM23014. Endocrinology. 1991 Jul;129(1):323–329. [PubMed]
  • Karey KP, Sirbasku DA. Differential responsiveness of human breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and T47D to growth factors and 17 beta-estradiol. Cancer Res. 1988 Jul 15;48(14):4083–4092. [PubMed]
  • Calvo F, Brower M, Carney DN. Continuous culture and soft agarose cloning of multiple human breast carcinoma cell lines in serum-free medium. Cancer Res. 1984 Oct;44(10):4553–4559. [PubMed]
  • Murphy LC, Sutherland RL. Differential effects of tamoxifen and analogs with nonbasic side chains on cell proliferation in vitro. Endocrinology. 1985 Mar;116(3):1071–1078. [PubMed]
  • Ruenitz PC, Thompson CB, Srivatsan V. Characterization of MCF 7 breast cancer cell growth inhibition by the antiestrogen nitromifene (CI 628) and selected metabolites. J Steroid Biochem. 1989 Sep;33(3):365–369. [PubMed]
  • Reddel RR, Sutherland RL. Effects of pharmacological concentrations of estrogens on proliferation and cell cycle kinetics of human breast cancer cell lines in vitro. Cancer Res. 1987 Oct 15;47(20):5323–5329. [PubMed]
  • Katzenellenbogen BS, Kendra KL, Norman MJ, Berthois Y. Proliferation, hormonal responsiveness, and estrogen receptor content of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells grown in the short-term and long-term absence of estrogens. Cancer Res. 1987 Aug 15;47(16):4355–4360. [PubMed]
  • Berthois Y, Katzenellenbogen JA, Katzenellenbogen BS. Phenol red in tissue culture media is a weak estrogen: implications concerning the study of estrogen-responsive cells in culture. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1986 Apr;83(8):2496–2500. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Butler WB, Berlinski PJ, Hillman RM, Kelsey WH, Toenniges MM. Relation of in vitro properties to tumorigenicity for a series of sublines of the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Cancer Res. 1986 Dec;46(12 Pt 1):6339–6348. [PubMed]
  • Zugmaier G, Knabbe C, Fritsch C, Simpson S, Ennis B, Lippman M, Dickson RB. Tissue culture conditions determine the effects of estrogen and growth factors on the anchorage independent growth of human breast cancer cell lines. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1991 Nov;39(5A):681–685. [PubMed]
  • Resnicoff M, Medrano EE, Podhajcer OL, Bravo AI, Bover L, Mordoh J. Subpopulations of MCF7 cells separated by Percoll gradient centrifugation: a model to analyze the heterogeneity of human breast cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Oct;84(20):7295–7299. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Whang-Peng J, Lee EC, Kao-Shan CS, Seibert K, Lippman M. Cytogenetic studies of human breast cancer lines: MCF-7 and derived variant sublines. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1983 Oct;71(4):687–695. [PubMed]
  • Arteaga CL, Tandon AK, Von Hoff DD, Osborne CK. Transforming growth factor beta: potential autocrine growth inhibitor of estrogen receptor-negative human breast cancer cells. Cancer Res. 1988 Jul 15;48(14):3898–3904. [PubMed]
  • Correc P, Fondanèche MC, Bracke M, Burtin P. The presence of plasmin receptors on three mammary carcinoma MCF-7 sublines. Int J Cancer. 1990 Oct 15;46(4):745–750. [PubMed]
  • White R, Jobling S, Hoare SA, Sumpter JP, Parker MG. Environmentally persistent alkylphenolic compounds are estrogenic. Endocrinology. 1994 Jul;135(1):175–182. [PubMed]
  • Gyling M, Leclercq G, Heuson JC. Estrogenic and antiestrogenic down-regulation of estrogen receptor levels: evidence for two different mechanisms. J Recept Res. 1990;10(5-6):217–234. [PubMed]

Articles from Environmental Health Perspectives are provided here courtesy of National Institute of Environmental Health Science


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    NCBI Bookshelf books that cite the current articles.
  • Compound
    PubChem chemical compound records that cite the current articles. These references are taken from those provided on submitted PubChem chemical substance records. Multiple substance records may contribute to the PubChem compound record.
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Substance
    PubChem chemical substance records that cite the current articles. These references are taken from those provided on submitted PubChem chemical substance records.

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...