Why do estrogen-dependent breast-cancer cells grow and spread rapidly? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say it may be because estrogen virtually eliminates levels of a vitally important regulatory protein.
In a paper that will appear in the Sept. 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists report that human breast-cancer cells exposed to estrogen in their laboratory showed a dramatic reduction in numbers of a crucial nuclear receptor corepressor, a protein known as N-CoR (pronounced "en CORE"). They also found that the anti-estrogen drug tamoxifen, often used in breast-cancer treatments, encouraged N-CoR recovery, a beneficial activity. The paper was published online last week.
"Because estrogen has the ability to reduce the levels of N-CoR, estrogen then can promote the proliferation and progression of breast cancer, because the balance of co-activators and co-repressors involved in normal gene transcription is altered," said Benita S. Katzenellenbogen, a Swanlund Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Illinois. She also is a professor of molecular and integrative physiology.
Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
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