Membrane estrogen signaling enhances tumorigenesis and metastatic potential of breast cancer cells via estrogen receptor-α36 (ERα36)

Reyhaan A. Chaudhri, Rene Olivares-Navarrete, Natalia Cuenca, Agreen Hadadi, Barbara D. Boyan, Zvi Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Protein kinase C (PKC) signaling can be activated rapidly by 17β-estradiol (E 2) via nontraditional signaling in ERα- positive MCF7 and ERα-negative HCC38 breast cancer cells and is associated with tumorigenicity. Additionally, E 2 has been shown to elicit anti-apoptotic effects in cancer cells counteracting pro-apoptotic effects of chemotherapeutics. Supporting evidence suggests the existence of a membrane-associated ER that differs from the traditional receptors, ERαand ERβ. Our aim was to identify the ER responsible for rapid PKC activation and to evaluate downstream effects, such as proliferation, apoptosis, and metastasis. RT-PCR, Western blot, and immunofluorescence were used to determine the presence of ER splice variants in multiple cell lines. E 2 effects on PKC activity were measured with and without ER-blocking antibodies. Cell proliferation was determined by [ 3H]thymidine incorporation, and cell viability was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, (MTT) whereas apoptosis was determined by DNA fragmentation and TUNEL. Quantitative RT-PCR and sandwich ELISA were used to determine the effects on metastatic factors. The role of membrane-dependent signaling in cancer cell invasiveness was examined using an in vitro assay. The results indicate the presence of an ERα splice variant, ERα36, in ERα-positive MCF7 and ERα-negative HCC38 breast cancer cells, which localized to plasma membranes and rapidly activated PKC in response to E 2, leading to deleterious effects such as enhancement of proliferation, protection against apoptosis, and enhancement of metastatic factors. These findings propose ERα36 as a novel target for the development of therapies that can prevent progression of breast cancer in the primary tumor as well as during metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7169-7181
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 2 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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