ERK/MAPK regulates ERRγ expression, transcriptional activity and receptor-mediated tamoxifen resistance in ER+ breast cancer

Mary M. Heckler, Hemang Thakor, Cara C. Schafer, Rebecca B. Riggins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2431-2442
Number of pages12
JournalFEBS Journal
Volume281
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ERK/MAPK
  • estrogen-related receptor γ
  • tamoxifen
  • transcription

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