Estrogen-related receptor alpha is critical for the growth of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.
Expression of estrogen-related receptor alpha (ERRalpha) has recently been shown to carry negative prognostic significance in breast and ovarian cancers. The specific role of this orphan nuclear receptor in tumor growth and progression, however, is yet to be fully understood. The significant homology between estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and ERRalpha initially suggested that these receptors may have similar transcriptional targets. Using the well-characterized ERalpha-positive MCF-7 breast cancer cell line, we sought to gain a genome-wide picture of ERalpha-ERRalpha cross-talk using an unbiased microarray approach. In addition to generating a host of novel ERRalpha target genes, this study yielded the surprising result that most ERRalpha-regulated genes are unrelated to estrogen signaling. The relatively small number of genes regulated by both ERalpha and ERRalpha led us to expand our study to the more aggressive and less clinically treatable ERalpha-negative class of breast cancers. In this setting, we found that ERRalpha expression is required for the basal level of expression of many known and novel ERRalpha target genes. Introduction of a small interfering RNA directed to ERRalpha into the highly aggressive breast carcinoma MDA-MB-231 cell line dramatically reduced the migratory potential of these cells. Although stable knockdown of ERRalpha expression in MDA-MB-231 cells had no effect on in vitro cell proliferation, a significant reduction of tumor growth rate was observed when these cells were implanted as xenografts. Our results confirm a role for ERRalpha in breast cancer growth and highlight it as a potential therapeutic target for estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.
Stein, RA; Chang, C-Y; Kazmin, DA; Way, J; Schroeder, T; Wergin, M; Dewhirst, MW; McDonnell, DP
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