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Mol Biol Cell. 2004 Jul;15(7):3266-84. Epub 2004 Apr 30.

Estradiol abrogates apoptosis in breast cancer cells through inactivation of BAD: Ras-dependent nongenomic pathways requiring signaling through ERK and Akt.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Comparative and Experimental Medicine Program, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37920, USA.


Estrogens such as 17-beta estradiol (E(2)) play a critical role in sporadic breast cancer progression and decrease apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Our studies using estrogen receptor-positive MCF7 cells show that E(2) abrogates apoptosis possibly through phosphorylation/inactivation of the proapoptotic protein BAD, which was rapidly phosphorylated at S112 and S136. Inhibition of BAD protein expression with specific antisense oligonucleotides reduced the effectiveness of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, H(2)O(2), and serum starvation in causing apoptosis. Furthermore, the ability of E(2) to prevent tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced apoptosis was blocked by overexpression of the BAD S112A/S136A mutant but not the wild-type BAD. BAD S112A/S136A, which lacks phosphorylation sites for p90(RSK1) and Akt, was not phosphorylated in response to E(2) in vitro(.) E(2) treatment rapidly activated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K)/Akt and p90(RSK1) to an extent similar to insulin-like growth factor-1 treatment. In agreement with p90(RSK1) activation, E(2) also rapidly activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and this activity was down-regulated by chemical and biological inhibition of PI-3K suggestive of cross talk between signaling pathways responding to E(2). Dominant negative Ras blocked E(2)-induced BAD phosphorylation and the Raf-activator RasV12T35S induced BAD phosphorylation as well as enhanced E(2)-induced phosphorylation at S112. Chemical inhibition of PI-3K and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 inhibited E(2)-induced BAD phosphorylation at S112 and S136 and expression of dominant negative Ras-induced apoptosis in proliferating cells. Together, these data demonstrate a new nongenomic mechanism by which E(2) prevents apoptosis.

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