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Anticancer Res. 2000 Mar-Apr;20(2A):981-6.

The normal epithelial cell-specific 1 (NES1) gene is up-regulated by steroid hormones in the breast carcinoma cell line BT-474.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The normal epithelial cell-specific 1 (NES1) gene encodes a serine protease which was found to be down-regulated in breast cancer. There is evidence that NES1 acts as a tumor suppressor gene in breast cancer cells. To further understand its role in breast tumorigenesis, we investigated the effect of estrogens, androgens, and progestins on NES1 gene expression, in the breast cancer cell line BT-474, at the transcription level. The reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction method was used to monitor changes in the NES1 mRNA. Our experiments showed that NES1 gene expression is up-regulated promptly in response to 17 beta-estradiol, 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and norgestrel stimulation. NES1 gene mRNA started to increase 2 hours after estradiol stimulation and 8 hours after DHT stimulation. The stimulation of NES1 by estradiol can be dramatically blocked by the estrogen antagonists ICI 182,780 and 4-hydroxytamoxifen. Mifepristone (a synthetic antiprogestin) can partially block the up-regulation of the NES1 gene by norgestrel. Dose-response experiments indicated that the lowest stimulatory concentration of 17 beta-estradiol, DHT, and norgestrel is 10(-11) M, 10(-10) M, and 10(-10) M, respectively. The production of NES1 mRNA increased coordinately with increasing concentration of the stimulants. These results suggest that the NES1 gene is primarily regulated by estrogen, but also by androgen and progestin in the breast cancer cell line BT-474. It appears that NES1 may be involved in a pathway that counter balances the action of estrogens and androgens in steroid hormone responsive tissues.

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