Hormones and Cancer

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 90–99 | Cite as

Bisphenol A Induces Sox2 in ER+ Breast Cancer Stem-Like Cells

  • M. Angeles Lillo
  • Cydney Nichols
  • Tiffany N. Seagroves
  • Gustavo A. Miranda-Carboni
  • Susan A. KrumEmail author
Original Paper


Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting compound used in food and beverage plastic containers and has been shown to increase breast cancer cellular proliferation. However, the concentrations of BPA used in these experiments are far higher than the physiological levels of BPA detected in the human body. We observed in vitro that exposure of MCF-7 cells to physiological concentrations of BPA failed to increase cell proliferation or to induce canonical estrogen-responsive genes (pS2 and progesterone receptor (PR)), in contrast to 17β-estradiol (E2) treatment. However, MCF-7 cells treated with 10 nM BPA induced ALDH1 expression, a marker of human mammary stem cells. When treated with 10 nM BPA, mammospheres derived either from MCF-7 cells, a patient-derived xenograft, or the normal mouse mammary gland exhibited increased size; however, these effects were not observed in MDA-MB-231 mammospheres. Mechanistically, BPA induced SOX2 mRNA and protein in MCF-7 mammospheres, resulting from enhanced CREB phosphorylation, and subsequent binding of pCREB to a SOX2 downstream enhancer. These findings suggest that physiological levels of BPA increase estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer tumor maintenance through enhanced cancer stem-like cell activity via direct regulation of SOX2 transcription.


Cancer Stem Cell SOX2 Expression Breast Cancer Stem Cell Mammary Stem Cell Breast Stem Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by a grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to SAK (KG110317); the National Cancer Institute (CA138488 to T.N.S.); and intramural support from the West Cancer Center in Memphis, TN (to T.N.S.).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12672_2017_286_Fig7_ESM.gif (5 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1

Proliferation of MCF-7 cells after one week of hormone treatment. MCF-7 cells were treated for one week with either 10 nM E2, BPA or control vehicle (EtOH) and then counted by hemocytometer, *p < 0.0001. (GIF 4 kb)

12672_2017_286_MOESM1_ESM.tif (774 kb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 774 kb)
12672_2017_286_Fig8_ESM.gif (7 kb)
Supplementary Figure 2

BPA does not induce phosphorylation of CREB in MDA-MB-231 cells. Protein from MDA-MB-231 cells treated with 10 nM E2, BPA or EtOH for 15 min was harvested and immunoblotting was performed with pCREB antibody, total CREB and β-tubulin (loading control). (GIF 6 kb)

12672_2017_286_MOESM2_ESM.tif (725 kb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 725 kb)
12672_2017_286_Fig9_ESM.gif (77 kb)
Supplementary Figure 3

MCF-7 mammospheres are enriched in stem cells. (A) Expression of the stem cell genes NANOG, SOX2 and OCT4 was compared in adherent and MCF-7 spheres by quantitative RT-PCR. (B) Primary and secondary MCF-7 mammospheres. Magnification bar, 1 mm. (GIF 76 kb)

12672_2017_286_MOESM3_ESM.tif (2.8 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 2874 kb)
12672_2017_286_Fig10_ESM.gif (171 kb)
Supplementary Figure 4

Additional fields of view of MCF-7 mammospheres treated with hormones. Magnification bar, 400 μm. (GIF 170 kb)

12672_2017_286_MOESM4_ESM.tif (3.9 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 4011 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Angeles Lillo
    • 1
    • 5
  • Cydney Nichols
    • 2
  • Tiffany N. Seagroves
    • 3
    • 5
  • Gustavo A. Miranda-Carboni
    • 4
    • 5
  • Susan A. Krum
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyImmunology and Molecular Genetics, UCLALos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of PathologyUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  5. 5.Center for Cancer ResearchUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA

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