, Volume 110, Issue 1, pp 69-83
Date: 03 Aug 2007

COUP-TFI modulates estrogen signaling and influences proliferation, survival and migration of breast cancer cells

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We previously showed that COUP-TFI interacts with the Estrogen Receptor alpha (ERα) to recruit Extracellular signal Regulated Kinases (ERKs) in an Estradiol (E2)-independent manner, resulting in an enhancement of ERα transcriptional activity. However, the involvement of COUP-TFI in physiologically relevant functions of ERα, such as the mitogenic activity that E2 has on breast cancer cells, remains poorly understood. Here, we first showed that the amounts of COUP-TFI protein are higher in dedifferentiated mammary cell lines (MDA-MB-231) and tumor breast cells as compared to the differentiated MCF-7 cell line and normal breast cells. To evaluate the functional relevance of the COUP-TFI/ERα interplay in mammary cells, we generated MCF-7 cells that stably over-express COUP-TFI. We found that the over-expression of COUP-TFI enhances motility and invasiveness of MCF-7 cells. COUP-TFI also promotes the proliferation of MCF-7 cells through ERα-dependent mechanisms that target cell cycle progression and cell survival. To further investigate the mechanisms underlying these effects of COUP-TFI, we evaluated the expression of known E2-target genes in breast cancer, and found that COUP-TFI differentially regulated genes involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis, and migration/invasion. Notably, Cathepsin D (CTSD) transcript and protein levels were significantly higher in presence and absence of E2 in MCF-7 over-expressing COUP-TFI. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation assays showed that ERα, phospho-RNA Polymerase II, as well as p68 RNA Helicase, a phospho-Serine 118 dependent co-activator of ERα, were preferentially recruited onto the CTSD gene proximal promoter in COUP-TFI over-expressing cells. These results suggest that COUP-TFI selectively regulates the expression of endogenous E2-target genes and consequently modifies ERα positive mammary cells response to E2.