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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2000 Nov 30;74(5):255-9.

Thoughts on tamoxifen resistant breast cancer. Are coregulators the answer or just a red herring?

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Department of Medicine, University of Colorado, School of Medicine, 80262, Denver, CO, USA.


The antiestrogen tamoxifen is an effective treatment for estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, slowing tumor growth and preventing disease recurrence, with relatively few side effects. However, many patients who initially respond to treatment, later become resistant to treatment. Tamoxifen has both agonist and antagonist activities, which are manifested in a tissue-specific pattern. Development of tamoxifen resistance can be characterized by an increase in the partial agonist properties of the antiestrogen in the breast, resulting in loss of growth inhibition and even inappropriate tumor stimulation. Nuclear receptor function is modulated by transcriptional coregulators, which either enhance or repress receptor activity. Using a mixed antagonist-biased two-hybrid screening strategy, we identified two such proteins: the human homolog of the nuclear receptor corepressor, N-CoR, and a novel coactivator, L7/SPA (Switch Protein for Antagonists). In transcriptional studies N-CoR suppressed the agonist properties of tamoxifen and RU486, while L7/SPA increased agonist effects. We speculated that the relative level of these coactivators and corepressors might determine the balance of agonist and antagonist properties of mixed antagonists such as tamoxifen. Using quantitative RT-PCR we therefore measured the levels of transcripts encoding these coregulators, as well as the corepressor SMRT, and the coactivator SRC-1, in a small cohort of tamoxifen resistant and sensitive breast tumors. The results suggest that tumor sensitivity to mixed antagonists may be governed by a complex set of transcription factors, which we are only now beginning to understand.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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