Creation of an active estrogen-responsive element by a single base change in the flanking sequence of a cellular oncogene: a possible mechanism for hormonal carcinogenesis?
Estrogens are considered to act as promoters in a multistep process of hormonal carcinogenesis, although the molecular mechanisms by which these hormones act in tumorigenesis are unclear at present. Estradiol is known to induce expression of certain proto-oncogenes, and this led us to examine potential regulatory regions of the cellular c-fos oncogene. The 5'-flanking region of the murine c-fos contains a 13-bp palindromic sequence (GGTCTnnnAGACC) with striking homology to the consensus estrogen-responsive element (ERE) GGTCAnnnTGACC. However, the c-fos sequence did not bind the human estrogen receptor or confer hormonal responsiveness in a yeast-based transcriptional test system. Importantly, a single base change in the fifth position of the c-fos sequence (GGTCTnnnAGACC to GGTCA/GnnnAGACC) produced an element that bound the estrogen receptor and conferred estrogen-dependent transcriptional activation of a reporter gene. This suggests a specific hypothesis by which estrogens could act as tumor promoters. In this paradigm, the regulatory region of the cellular oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and growth-factor genes contain inactive sequences with close homologies to hormone-responsive elements. Initiation occurs when some agent (e.g., a chemical carcinogen) causes a mutation in such a sequence to create a functional hormone-responsive element. Estrogens, acting through their receptors and the mutated element, can then activate the target gene to stimulate cell proliferation and increase the population of initiated cells.
Nawaz, Z; Stancel, GM; McDonnell, DP; Hyder, SM
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