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Neoplasia. 2011 Mar;13(3):230-43.

Epidermal growth factor and estrogen act by independent pathways to additively promote the release of the angiogenic chemokine CXCL8 by breast tumor cells.

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Department of Cell Research and Immunology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


The tumor microenvironment contains multiple cancer-supporting factors, whose joint activities promote malignancy. Here, we show that epidermal growth factor (EGF) and estrogen upregulate in an additive manner the transcription and the secretion of the angiogenic chemokine CXCL8 (interleukin 8 [IL-8]) in breast tumor cells. In view of published findings on cross-regulatory interactions between EGF receptors and estrogen receptors in breast tumor cells, we asked whether the additive effects of EGF and estrogen were due to their ability to (1) induce intracellular cross talk and amplify shared regulatory pathways or (2) act in independent mechanisms, which complement each other. We found that stimulation by EGF alone induced the release of CXCL8 through signaling pathways involving ErbB2, ErbB1, Erk, and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K). ErbB2 and Erk were also involved in estrogen activities on CXCL8 but to a lower extent than with EGF. However, in the joint stimulatory setup, the addition of estrogen to EGF has led to partial (ErbB2, ErbB1, Erk) or complete (PI3K) shutoff of the involvement of these activation pathways in CXCL8 up-regulation. Furthermore, when costimulation by EGF + estrogen was applied, the effects of estrogen were channeled to regulation of CXCL8 at the transcription level, acting through the transcription factor estrogen receptor α (ERα). In parallel, in the joint stimulation, EGF acted independently at the transcription level through AP-1, to upregulate CXCL8 expression. The independent activities of EGF and estrogen on CXCL8 transcription reinforce the need to introduce simultaneous targeting of ErbBs and ERα to achieve effective therapy in breast cancer.

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