Selective estrogen receptor modulators such as tamoxifen (TAM) significantly improve breast cancer-specific survival for women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) disease. However, resistance to TAM remains a major clinical problem. The resistant phenotype is usually not driven by loss or mutation of the estrogen receptor; instead, changes in multiple proliferative and/or survival pathways over-ride the inhibitory effects of TAM. Estrogen-related receptor γ (ERRγ) is an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily that promotes TAM resistance in ER+ breast cancer cells. This study sought to clarify the mechanism(s) by which this orphan nuclear receptor is regulated, and hence affects TAM resistance. mRNA and protein expression/phosphorylation were monitored by RT-PCR and western blotting, respectively. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to disrupt consensus extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) target sites. Cell proliferation and cell-cycle progression were measured by flow cytometric methods. ERRγ transcriptional activity was assessed by dual-luciferase promoter-reporter assays. We show that ERRγ protein levels are affected by the activation state of ERK/mitogen-activated protein kinase, and mutation of consensus ERK target sites impairs ERRγ-driven transcriptional activity and TAM resistance. These findings shed new light on the functional significance of ERRγ in ER+ breast cancer, and are the first to demonstrate a role for kinase regulation of this orphan nuclear receptor. Selective estrogen receptor modulators such as Tamoxifen can significantly improve breast cancer-specific survival for women with ER+ disease. However, high expression of ERRγ is associated with poor outcome after Tamoxifen therapy. Here, we show that ERRγ expression is affected by ERK/MAPK activity and that mutation of consensus ERK/MAPK phosphorylation sites in the receptor impairs ERRγ-driven transcriptional activity and Tamoxifen resistance.
- estrogen-related receptor γ