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Mol Pathol. 2001 Jun;54(3):149-54.

Insulin-like growth factor 1 and oestradiol promote cell proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells: new insights into their synergistic effects.

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  • 1Clinical Endocrinology Branch, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD 20892-1758, USA.


In MCF-7 breast cancer cells, the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) and the oestrogen receptor (ER) are coexpressed and the two signalling systems are engaged in a crosstalk that results in synergistic growth. However, coupling between the signalling cascades is poorly understood. Oestradiol enhances IGF-1R signalling by inducing the expression of insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1), a substrate of the IGF-1R. Oestradiol induced expression of IRS-1 results in enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-1 after IGF-1 stimulation, followed by enhanced mitogen activated protein kinase, phosphoinositide 3' kinase, and Akt activation. Oestradiol can also potentiate the effect of IGF-1 on the expression of cyclin D1 and cyclin E, and on the phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (RB). These effects are greatly diminished in SX13 cells, which exhibit a 50% reduction in IGF-1R expression but few functional IGF-1Rs at the surface. Oestradiol and IGF-1 regulate the expression of two cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors, p21 and p27, differently. Whereas IGF-1 increases p21 expression and reduces p27 expression, oestradiol has no effect on p21. In summary, in MCF-7 cells, oestrogen potentiates the effect of IGF-1 on IGF-1R signalling and its effects on certain cell cycle components.

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