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Cancer Res. 2006 Oct 15;66(20):10188-98.

Decreased chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II expression in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA.


Tamoxifen (TAM) is successfully used for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. However, many patients that are initially TAM responsive develop tumors that are antiestrogen/TAM resistant (TAM-R). The mechanism behind TAM resistance in estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha)-positive tumors is not understood. The orphan nuclear receptor chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor (COUP-TF)-I interacts directly with 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT)- and estradiol (E(2))-occupied ERalpha, corepressors NCoR and SMRT, and inhibit E(2)-induced gene transcription in breast cancer cells. Here we tested the hypothesis that reduced COUP-TFI and COUP-TFII correlate with TAM resistance. We report for the first time that COUP-TFII, but not COUP-TFI, is reduced in three antiestrogen/TAM-R cell lines derived from TAM-sensitive (TAM-S) MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and in MDA-MB-231 cells compared with MCF-7. ERalpha and ERbeta protein expression was not different between TAM-S and TAM-R cells, but progesterone receptor (PR) was decreased in TAM-R cells. Further, E(2) increased COUP-TFII transcription in MCF-7, but not TAM-R, cells. Importantly, reexpression of COUP-TFII in TAM-S cells to levels comparable to those in MCF-7 was shown to increase 4-OHT-mediated growth inhibition and increased apoptosis. Conversely, knockdown of COUP-TFII in TAM-S MCF-7 cells blocked growth inhibitory activity and increased 4-OHT agonist activity. 4-OHT increased COUP-TFII-ERalpha interaction approximately 2-fold in MCF-7 cells. COUP-TFII expression in TAM-R cells also inhibited 4-OHT-induced endogenous PR and pS2 mRNA expression. These data indicate that reduced COUP-TFII expression correlates with acquired TAM resistance in human breast cancer cell lines and that COUP-TFII plays a role in regulating the growth inhibitory activity of TAM in breast cancer cells.

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