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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Sep;96(5):375-85. Epub 2005 Jul 12.

Difficulty demonstrating estradiol-mediated Erk1/2 phosphorylation in MCF-7 cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, Morgantown, WV 26506-9142, USA.


While some studies report that estradiol (E2) activates extracellular-signal regulated kinase (Erk1/2) in MCF-7 breast cancer cells, others report E2 does not activate this signaling pathway. This study attempted to resolve the conflicting reports by investigating experimental variables that could impact Erk1/2 activation using a high through-put assay that quantitatively assessed Erk1/2 phosphorylation. Variables tested included: cell staging and dosing regimes with and without charcoal-stripped serum, different MCF-7 cell sublines and culture densities and several E2 formulations and solvents. Levels of phosphorylated Erk1/2 were normalized to cellular protein rather than to total Erk1/2 protein because an antibody purported to recognize total Erk1/2 preferentially reacted with non-phosphorylated Erk1/2, potentially exaggerating the apparent level of Erk1/2 activation. Dosing MCF-7 cells with E2 containing small amounts of stripped serum induced Erk1/2 phosphorylation; however, this induction was largely attributed to serum factors. E2 administered in serum-free medium did not significantly alter Erk1/2 phosphorylation under any condition tested; immunocytochemistry corroborated this conclusion. While phosphatase inhibitors generally increased Erk1/2 phosphorylation, they did not impact E2-altered Erk1/2 phosphorylation. It remains important to resolve the basis of conflicting reports regarding E2-induced Erk1/2 activation due to the potential importance of this pathway on breast cancer and other processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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