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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1998 Jan;47(2):181-93.

Induction of p21 (CIP1/WAF1/SID1) by estradiol in a breast epithelial cell line transfected with the recombinant estrogen receptor gene: a possible mechanism for a negative regulatory role of estradiol.

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Department of Medicine, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, USA.


Estrogens stimulate the growth of a majority of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer cells. In contrast, estradiol exerted a 75% inhibition of DNA synthesis in the MCF-10AE(wt5) cell line, obtained by the transfection of the ER gene into a normal breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10A. The estradiol-mediated growth inhibitory effect was reversed by ICI 164384, a pure anti-estrogen. Analysis of cell cycle by flow cytometry showed a significant increase of G1 cells by estradiol treatment compared to controls. To understand the mechanism of action of estradiol on MCF-10AE(wt5) cells, we examined the level of a cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor (CKI), p21, by Western blot analysis. Our results showed a 5- to 10-fold increase in the level of p21 in estradiol-treated MCF-10AE(wt5) cells compared to controls. ICI 164384 reversed estradiol-mediated induction of p21. Northern blot analysis of p21 mRNA indicated that estradiol stimulated its message in MCF-10AE(wt5) cells. Analysis of a panel of 6 breast cancer cell lines showed the absence of p21 protein, whereas it was present at a very low level in MCF-10A cells. Comparison of p21 in MCF-10A and MCF-10AE(wt5) cells showed an abundance of p21 in the ER-transfected cells. However, this p21 appears to be inactive in the absence of estradiol. These results suggest a p21-mediated pathway as a possible mechanism for the growth inhibitory effects of estradiol on at least a subset of ER-transfected cell lines.

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