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Cell Death Dis. 2013 Jul 11;4:e724. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.235.

DAX-1, as an androgen-target gene, inhibits aromatase expression: a novel mechanism blocking estrogen-dependent breast cancer cell proliferation.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacy and Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Calabria, Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy.


Sexual hormones, estrogens and androgens, determine biological response in a tissue- and gender-specific manner and have a pivotal role in endocrine-mediated tumorigenesis. In situ estrogen production by aromatase is a critical determinant for breast cancer growth and progression. On the contrary, clinical and in vitro studies indicate that androgens have a protective role in mammary carcinogenesis. Here, we demonstrated, in hormone-dependent breast cancer cells, the existence of a functional interplay between the androgen receptor (AR), the orphan nuclear receptor DAX-1 and the aromatase enzyme involved in the inhibition of the estrogen-dependent breast cancer cell proliferation exerted by androgen signaling. Indeed, our results revealed, in MCF-7 cells, that ligand-activated AR induces the expression of the orphan nuclear receptor DAX-1 by direct binding to a newly identified androgen-response-element within the DAX-1 proximal promoter. In turn, androgen-induced DAX-1 is recruited, in association with the corepressor N-CoR, within the SF-1/LRH-1 containing region of the aromatase promoter, thereby repressing aromatase expression and activity. In elucidating a novel mechanism by which androgens, through DAX-1, inhibit aromatase expression in breast cancer cell lines, these findings reinforce the theory of androgen- opposing estrogen-action, opening new avenues for therapeutic intervention in estrogen-dependent breast tumors.

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