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Mol Endocrinol. 2008 Apr;22(4):823-37. doi: 10.1210/me.2007-0437. Epub 2008 Jan 17.

Progesterone receptor rapid signaling mediates serine 345 phosphorylation and tethering to specificity protein 1 transcription factors.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Transplantation, University of Minnesota Cancer Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


Human progesterone receptors (PR) rapidly activate cytosolic signaling pathways, in addition to their classical function as ligand-activated transcription factors. Using ER+/PR-B+ T47D breast cancer cells, we probed the role of progestin-stimulated rapid PR signaling in the transcriptional regulation of target genes involved in breast cancer cell proliferation. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was rapidly activated after a 10-min treatment with R5020. Progestin induced EGFR-, c-Src-, and MAPK-dependent phosphorylation of PR-B on the MAPK consensus site, Ser345. Ser345-phosphorylated PR-B receptors strongly associated with specificity protein 1 (Sp1) transcription factors to regulate PR cell cycle (p21) and growth-promoting (EGFR) target genes whose promoters lack canonical progesterone response element sequences. Inhibitors of EGFR, c-Src, or MAPK activities blocked PR tethering to Sp1 and progestin-stimulated S-phase entry. Mutant PR-B receptors defective for c-Src binding (mPro) were not phosphorylated on Ser345 in response to progestin and failed to interact with Sp1. Hormone-induced complexes containing Sp1 and wild-type PR-B, but not S345A or mPro PR-B, were recruited to Sp1 sites within the endogenous p21 promoter. Progestin-induced S-phase entry was attenuated in T47D cells containing wild-type PR-B and treated with EGFR, c-Src, or MAPK kinase inhibitors or in T47D cells stably expressing mPro or mutant DNA-binding domain PR-B. In sum, rapid progestin-activated PR signaling leads to PR Ser345 phosphorylation and tethering to Sp1. These events are critical for progestin-stimulated regulation of Sp1 target genes and breast cancer cell proliferation. Our data demonstrate the therapeutic potential for PR-targeted breast cancer treatment by exploiting multiple nodes along the PR signaling pathway, including PR-B, EGFR, c-Src, MAPK, or Sp1.

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