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Clin Cancer Res. 2003 Aug 1;9(8):2933-9.

Expression of constitutively active Akt-3 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells reverses the estrogen and tamoxifen responsivity of these cells in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Stanford University, 269 West Campus Drive, Stanford, California 94305-5174, USA.



Prior studies had suggested that Akt activity is elevated in a subset of breast cancers. In this study, to test the effect of active Akt-3 on estrogen receptor function, we have produced MCF-7 cells, which express active Akt-3 and examined the estrogen responsiveness of these cells in vivo and in vitro.


MCF-7 cells expressing active Akt-3 were studied for estradiol (E2) responsiveness in vitro by both using an estrogen receptor element reporter construct as well as looking at induction of endogenous genes. These cells were also studied in vivo after injection into nude, ovariectomized mice by following tumor growth rates in the presence or absence of E2, tamoxifen, or the pure antiestrogen, ICI 182,780 (fulvestrant).


Akt-3-expressing cells were found to produce tumors in mice in the absence of E2 that were approximately equivalent in size to control cells in mice given E2. Moreover, the formation of tumors by the Akt-3 cells was greatly suppressed by E2, stimulated by tamoxifen, and unaffected by ICI 182,780. In the in vitro assays for gene induction by E2, the Akt-3-expressing cells exhibited similar E2 and tamoxifen responsiveness as the control cells.


These results indicate that expression of active Akt-3 in MCF-7 cells results in E2-independent tumor growth. Moreover, the growth of these tumors is inhibited by E2 and enhanced by tamoxifen. Finally, these tumors are resistant to ICI 182,780. These findings suggest that the amount of active Akt present in breast cancers may be important in the relative efficacy of different treatments.

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