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Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2007 Apr;11(4):507-14.

FOXA1 as a therapeutic target for breast cancer.

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Indiana University School of Medicine, Departments of Surgery, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Walther Oncology Center, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Gene expression profiling studies have classified breast cancer into five intrinsic subtypes with distinct prognostic significance: luminal type A, luminal type B, normal-like, HER-2-positive and basal type. These studies have also uncovered novel diagnostic markers and molecular targets. FOXA1, a winged-helix transcription factor belonging to the forkhead family, is one among them as it is expressed predominantly in luminal type A breast cancer, which is characterized by the presence of estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) with favorable prognosis. FOXA1 is a 'pioneer' factor that binds to chromatinized DNA, opens the chromatin and enhances binding of ERalpha to its target genes. It is essential for the expression of approximately 50% of ERalpha:estrogen-regulated genes. Thus, a network comprising FOXA1, ERalpha and estrogen constitutes a major proliferation and survival signal for luminal type A breast cancer. However, by controlling differentiation and by regulating the expression of cell cycle inhibitor p27kip1 and the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin, FOXA1 may prevent metastatic progression of luminal type A breast cancer. This article reviews possible roles of FOXA family transcription factors in breast cancer initiation, hormone dependency and speculates on the potential of FOXA1 as a therapeutic target.

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