Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 95–105 | Cite as

Antiestrogen regulation of cell cycle progression and cyclin D1 gene expression in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells

  • Colin K. W. Watts
  • Kimberley J. E. Sweeney
  • Andrea Warlters
  • Elizabeth A. Musgrove
  • Robert L. Sutherland


The molecular mechanisms by which antiestrogens inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation are not well understood. Using cultured breast cancer cell lines, we studied the effects of antiestrogens on proliferation and cell cycle progression and used this information to select candidate cell cycle regulatory genes that are potential targets for antiestrogens. Under estrogen- and serum-free conditions antiestrogens inhibited proliferation of MCF-7 cells stimulated with insulin. Cells were blocked at a point in G1 phase. These effects are comparable with those in serum- and estrogen-containing medium and were also seen to a lesser degree in nude mice bearing MCF-7 tumors. Similar observations with other peptide mitogens suggest that the process inhibited by antiestrogens is common to estrogen and growth factor activated pathways. Other studies have identified G1 cyclins as potential targets for growth factor and steroid hormone/steroid antagonist regulation of breast epithelial cell proliferation. In MCF-7 cells growing in the presence of fetal calf serum, cyclin D1 mRNA was rapidly down-regulated by steroidal and nonsteroidal antiestrogens by an apparently estrogen receptor mediated mechanism. Cyclin D1 gene expression was maximally inhibited before effects on entry into S phase and inhibition was therefore not merely a consequence of changes in cell cycle progression. Together with data on the effects of antiestrogens in serum-free conditions [1], these results suggest down-regulation of cyclin D1 by antiestrogens may be a general phenomenon in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells, independent of culture conditions and class of antiestrogen. These observations are compatible with the hypothesis that reductions in cyclin D1 levels may mediate in part the action of antiestrogens in blocking entry of cells into S phase.

Key words

antiestrogens cell proliferation cell cycle cyclins breast cancer 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin K. W. Watts
    • 1
  • Kimberley J. E. Sweeney
    • 1
  • Andrea Warlters
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. Musgrove
    • 1
  • Robert L. Sutherland
    • 1
  1. 1.Cancer Biology DivisionGarvan Institute of Medical Research, St Vincent's HospitalSydneyAustralia

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