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Breast Cancer Res. 2008;10(3):207. doi: 10.1186/bcr2097. Epub 2008 May 30.

Alternative splicing and the progesterone receptor in breast cancer.

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  • 1Surgical and Reproductive Sciences, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.


Progesterone receptor status is a marker for hormone responsiveness and disease prognosis in breast cancer. Progesterone receptor negative tumours have generally been shown to have a poorer prognosis than progesterone receptor positive tumours. The observed loss of progesterone receptor could be through a range of mechanisms, including the generation of alternatively spliced progesterone receptor variants that are not detectable by current screening methods. Many progesterone receptor mRNA variants have been described with deletions of various whole, multiple or partial exons that encode differing protein functional domains. These variants may alter the progestin responsiveness of a tissue and contribute to the abnormal growth associated with breast cancer. Absence of specific functional domains from these spliced variants may also make them undetectable or indistinguishable from full length progesterone receptor by conventional antibodies. A comprehensive investigation into the expression profile and activity of progesterone receptor spliced variants in breast cancer is required to advance our understanding of tumour hormone receptor status. This, in turn, may aid the development of new biomarkers of disease prognosis and improve adjuvant treatment decisions.

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