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Mol Cancer. 2002 Nov 14;1:7.

The roles of sex steroid receptor coregulators in cancer.

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  • 1CUMC-Cancer Center, Creighton University, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178, USA. xiuhuagao@hotmail.com


Sex steroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone and androgen, play pivotal roles in sex differentiation and development, and in reproductive functions and sexual behavior. Studies have shown that sex steroid hormones are the key regulators in the development and progression of endocrine-related cancers, especially the cancers of the reproductive tissues. The actions of estrogen, progesterone and androgen are mediated through their cognate intracellular receptor proteins, the estrogen receptors (ER), the progesterone receptors (PR) and the androgen receptor (AR), respectively. These receptors are members of the nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which function as transcription factors that regulate their target gene expression. Proper functioning of these steroid receptors maintains the normal responsiveness of the target tissues to the stimulations of the steroid hormones. This permits the normal development and function of reproductive tissues. It can be inferred that factors influencing the expression or function of steroid receptors will interfere with the normal development and function of the target tissues, and may induce pathological conditions, including cancers. In addition to the direct contact with the basal transcription machinery, nuclear receptors enhance or suppress transcription by recruiting an array of coactivators and corepressors, collectively named coregulators. Therefore, the mutation or aberrant expression of sex steroid receptor coregulators will affect the normal function of the sex steroid receptors and hence may participate in the development and progression of the cancers.

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