Dicer-mediated upregulation of BCRP confers tamoxifen resistance in human breast cancer cells.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.19). 08/2011; 17(20):6510-21. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-1403
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Tamoxifen (Tam) is the most prescribed hormonal agent for treatment of estrogen receptor α (ERα)-positive breast cancer patients. Using microarray analysis, we observed that metastatic breast tumors resistant to Tam therapy had elevated levels of Dicer.
We overexpressed Dicer in ERα-positive MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and observed a concomitant increase in expression of the breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP). We thus hypothesized that Tam resistance associated with Dicer overexpression in ERα-positive breast cancer cells may involve BCRP. We analyzed BCRP function in Dicer-overexpressing cells using growth in soft agar and mammosphere formation and evaluated intracellular Tam efflux.
In the presence of Tam, Dicer-overexpressing cells formed resistant colonies in soft agar, and treatment with BCRP inhibitors restored Tam sensitivity. Tumor xenograft studies confirmed that Dicer-overexpressing cells were resistant to Tam in vivo. Tumors and distant metastases could be initiated with as few as five mammosphere cells from both vector and Dicer-overexpressing cells, indicating that the mammosphere assay selected for cells with enhanced tumor-initiating and metastatic capacity. Dicer-overexpressing cells with elevated levels of BCRP effluxed Tam more efficiently than control cells, and BCRP inhibitors were able to inhibit efflux.
Dicer-overexpressing breast cancer cells enriched for cells with enhanced BCRP function. We hypothesize that it is this population which may be involved in the emergence of Tam-resistant growth. BCRP may be a novel clinical target to restore Tam sensitivity.

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    ABSTRACT: Androgen receptor (AR) is an attractive target in breast cancer because of its frequent expression in all the molecular subtypes, especially in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive luminal breast cancers. We have previously shown a role for AR overexpression in tamoxifen resistance. We engineered ER-positive MCF-7 cells to overexpress aromatase and AR (MCF-7 AR Arom cells) to explore the role of AR in aromatase inhibitor (AI) resistance. Androstendione (AD) was used as a substrate for aromatization to estrogen. The nonsteroidal AI anastrazole (Ana) inhibited AD-stimulated growth and ER transcriptional activity in MCF-7 Arom cells, but not in MCF-7 AR Arom cells. Enhanced activation of pIGF-1R and pAKT was found in AR-overexpressing cells, and their inhibitors restored sensitivity to Ana, suggesting that these pathways represent escape survival mechanisms. Sensitivity to Ana was restored with AR antagonists, or the antiestrogen fulvestrant. These results suggest that both AR and ERα must be blocked to restore sensitivity to hormonal therapies in AR-overexpressing ERα-positive breast cancers. AR contributed to ERα transcriptional activity in MCF-7 AR Arom cells, and AR and ERα co-localized in AD + Ana-treated cells, suggesting cooperation between the two receptors. AR-mediated resistance was associated with a failure to block ER transcriptional activity and enhanced up-regulation of AR and ER-responsive gene expression. Clinically, it may be necessary to block both AR and ERα in patients whose tumors express elevated levels of AR. In addition, inhibitors to the AKT/IGF-1R signaling pathways may provide alternative approaches to block escape pathways and restore hormone sensitivity in resistant breast tumors.
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May 20, 2014