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Mol Endocrinol. 2008 Aug;22(8):1781-96. doi: 10.1210/me.2007-0419. Epub 2008 Jun 11.

Signal transducer and activator of transcription 5b, c-Src, and epidermal growth factor receptor signaling play integral roles in estrogen-stimulated proliferation of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


17beta-Estradiol (E2) acts through the estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) to stimulate breast cancer proliferation. Here, we investigated the functional relationship between ERalpha and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)5b activity in ER+ MCF-7 and T47D human breast cancer cells after specific knockdown of STAT5b. STAT5b small interfering RNA (siRNA) inhibited E2-induced bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation in both cell lines, as well as the E2-induced increase in MCF-7 cell number, cyclin D1 and c-myc mRNA, and cyclin D1 protein expression, indicating that STAT5b is required for E2-stimulated breast cancer proliferation. E2 treatment stimulated STAT5b tyrosine phosphorylation at the activating tyrosine Y699, resulting in increased STAT5-mediated transcriptional activity, which was inhibited by a Y669F STAT5b mutant. E2-induced STAT5-mediated transcriptional activity was inhibited by overexpressing a kinase-defective epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), or the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor tyrphostin AG1478, indicating a requirement for EGFR kinase activity. Both E2-induced STAT5b tyrosine phosphorylation and STAT5-mediated transcription were also inhibited by the ER antagonist ICI 182,780 and the c-Src inhibitor PP2, indicating additional requirements for the ER and c-Src kinase activity. EGFR and c-Src kinase activities were also required for E2-induced cyclin D1 and c-myc mRNA. Together, these studies demonstrate positive cross talk between ER, c-Src, EGFR, and STAT5b in ER+ breast cancer cells. Increased EGFR and c-Src signaling is associated with tamoxifen resistance in ER+ breast cancer cells. Here we show that constitutively active STAT5b not only increased basal DNA synthesis, but also conferred tamoxifen resistance. Because STAT5b plays an integral role in E2-stimulated proliferation and tamoxifen resistance, it may be an effective therapeutic target in ER+ breast tumors.

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