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Br J Cancer. 1999 Nov;81(6):1042-51.

High level expression of differentially localized BAG-1 isoforms in some oestrogen receptor-positive human breast cancers.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Imperial College of Medicine, St Mary's Campus, London, UK.


Sensitivity to oestrogens and apoptosis are critical determinants of the development and progression of breast cancer and reflect closely linked pathways in breast epithelial cells. For example, induction of BCL-2 oncoprotein expression by oestrogen contributes to suppression of apoptosis and BCL-2 and oestrogen receptor (ER) are frequently co-expressed in tumours. BAG-1/HAP is a multifunctional protein which complexes with BCL-2 and steroid hormone receptors (including the ER), and can suppress apoptosis and influence steroid hormone-dependent transcription. Therefore, analysis of expression of BAG-1 in human breast cancer is of considerable interest. BAG-1 was readily detected by immunostaining in normal breast epithelial cells and most ER-positive tumours, but was undetectable or weakly expressed in ER-negative tumours. BAG-1 positive cells showed a predominantly cytoplasmic or cytoplasmic plus nuclear distribution of staining. A correlation between ER and BAG-1 was also evident in breast cancer derived cell lines, as all lines examined with functional ER expression also expressed high levels of BAG-1. In addition to the prototypical 36 kDa BAG-1 isoform, breast cancer cells expressed higher molecular weight isoforms and, in contrast to BCL-2, BAG-1 expression was independent of oestrogens. BAG-1 isoforms were differentially localized to the nucleus or cytoplasm and this was also independent of oestrogens. These results demonstrate a close association between BAG-1 and functional ER expression and suggest BAG-1 may be useful as a therapeutic target or prognostic marker in breast cancer.

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