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Oncogene. 2007 Jul 12;26(32):4656-67. Epub 2007 Feb 12.

A20/TNFAIP3, a new estrogen-regulated gene that confers tamoxifen resistance in breast cancer cells.

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CNRS UMR 5160, Centre de Pharmacologie et Biotechnologie pour la Santé, Faculté de Pharmacie, Montpellier, France.


The zinc-finger protein A20/TNFAIP3, an inhibitor of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation, has been shown to protect MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells from TNFalpha-induced apoptosis. As estrogen receptor (ER) status is an important parameter in the development and progression of breast cancer, we analysed the effect of 17beta-estradiol (E2) treatment on the expression of A20. We found that A20 is a new E2-regulated gene, whose expression correlates with ER expression in both cell lines and tumor samples. With the aim of investigating the impact of A20 expression on MCF-7 cells in response to ER ligands, we established stably transfected-MCF-7 cells overexpressing A20 (MCF-7-A20). These cells exhibited a phenotype of resistance to the 4-hydroxy-tamoxifen cytostatic and pro-apoptotic actions and of hyper-response to E2. Dysregulations in bax, bcl2, bak, phospho-bad, cyclin D1, cyclin E2, cyclin D2 and cyclin A2 proteins expression were shown to be related to the resistant phenotype developed by the MCF-7-A20 cells. Interestingly, we found that A20 was also overexpressed in MVLN and VP tamoxifen-resistant cell lines. Furthermore, high A20 expression levels were observed in more aggressive breast tumors (ER-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and high histological grade). These overall findings strongly suggest that A20 is a key protein involved in tamoxifen resistance, and thus represents both a new breast cancer marker and a promising target for developing new strategies to prevent the emergence of acquired mechanisms of drug resistance in breast cancer.

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