Original Article


, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 496-503

First online:

Differential gene expression in ERα-positive and ERα-negative breast cancer cells upon leptin stimulation

  • Nadine A. BinaiAffiliated withPaul-Ehrlich-InstituteBiomolecular Mass Spectrometry & Proteomics Group, Utrecht University
  • , Gert CarraAffiliated withPaul-Ehrlich-Institute
  • , Johannes LöwerAffiliated withPaul-Ehrlich-Institute
  • , Roswitha LöwerAffiliated withPaul-Ehrlich-Institute
  • , Silja WesslerAffiliated withDivision of Microbiology, Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg Email author 

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In postmenopausal women, adipositas represents a serious risk factor for cancer development and progression. White adipose tissue secretes the 16 kDa hormone leptin which plays a key role in the regulation of appetite and metabolism. An increasing number of reports indicate that leptin also interferes with signal transduction pathways implicated in the development of breast cancer. In our previous study, we identified the estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) as a relevant enhancer of leptin-induced signal transduction leading to transactivation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3). The purpose of this study is the investigation of specific target gene expression in response to leptin-mediated Stat3 signaling. We performed a comprehensive microarray analysis of ERα-positive and ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells upon leptin treatment and identified 49 genes which showed a significant ERα-dependent regulation in leptin-treated MDA-MB-231 cells. There was no intersection with genes which were merely up- or downregulated by ERα expression and only 9 and 11 genes overlapping targets which were regulated by leptin stimulation either in ERα-expressing or ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells, respectively. To demonstrate the specificity, expression of three target genes was validated by quantitative real-time PCR. In conclusion, these data imply that leptin can induce a different set of target genes dependent on ERα expression, which might contribute to the development and progression of cancer diseases.


Leptin Estrogen receptor Whole genome microarray Breast cancer