Epithelial progeny of estrogen-exposed breast progenitor cells display a cancer-like methylome.
ABSTRACT Estrogen imprinting is used to describe a phenomenon in which early developmental exposure to endocrine disruptors increases breast cancer risk later in adult life. We propose that long-lived, self-regenerating stem and progenitor cells are more susceptible to the exposure injury than terminally differentiated epithelial cells in the breast duct. Mammospheres, containing enriched breast progenitors, were used as an exposure system to simulate this imprinting phenomenon in vitro. Using MeDIP-chip, a methylation microarray screening method, we found that 0.5% (120 loci) of human CpG islands were hypermethylated in epithelial cells derived from estrogen-exposed progenitors compared with the non-estrogen-exposed control cells. This epigenetic event may lead to progressive silencing of tumor suppressor genes, including RUNX3, in these epithelial cells, which also occurred in primary breast tumors. Furthermore, normal tissue in close proximity to the tumor site also displayed RUNX3 hypermethylation, suggesting that this aberrant event occurs in early breast carcinogenesis. The high prevalence of estrogen-induced epigenetic changes in primary tumors and the surrounding histologically normal tissues provides the first empirical link between estrogen injury of breast stem/progenitor cells and carcinogenesis. This finding also offers a mechanistic explanation as to why a tumor suppressor gene, such as RUNX3, can be heritably silenced by epigenetic mechanisms in breast cancer.
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a potent perinatal endocrine disruptor. In humans and experimental animals, exposure to DES during critical periods of reproductive tract differentiation permanently alters estrogen target tissues and results in long-term abnormalities such as uterine neoplasia that are not manifested until later in life. Using the developmentally exposed DES mouse, multiple mechanisms have been identified that play a role in its carcinogenic and toxic effects. Analysis of the DES murine uterus reveals altered gene expression pathways that include an estrogen-regulated component. Thus, perinatal DES exposure, especially at low doses, offers the opportunity to study effects caused by weaker environmental estrogens and provides an example of the emerging scientific field termed the developmental origin of adult disease. As a model endocrine disruptor, it is of particular interest that even low doses of DES increase uterine tumor incidence. Additional studies have verified that DES is not unique; when other environmental estrogens are tested at equal estrogenic doses, developmental exposure results in increased incidence of uterine neoplasia similar to that caused by DES. Interestingly, our data suggest that this increased susceptibility for tumors is passed on from the maternal lineage to subsequent generations of male and female descendants; the mechanisms involved in these transgenerational events include genetic and epigenetic events. Together, our data point out the unique sensitivity of the developing organism to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the occurrence of long-term effects after developmental exposure, and the possibility for adverse effects to be transmitted to subsequent generations.Endocrinology 07/2006; 147(6 Suppl):S11-7. · 4.72 Impact Factor
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among women in this country. Breast cancer risk is significantly influenced by genetics, but over 70% of the women that are diagnosed have noninherited or sporadic cancer. The risk of breast cancer is thought to be modified by lifestyle and environment. Exposures to certain chemicals and hormone-mimicking or endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) are suspected of contributing to increased breast cancer incidence as well as precocious puberty in the United States. Studies of EDC effects in rodents indicate that multiple toxicants can alter mammary gland development, with or without changing other markers of puberty. EDCs can cause transient and persistent effects on mammary gland development depending on dose, exposure parameters, and whether exposure was during critical periods of gland growth or differentiation. Adverse effects from these abnormal developmental patterns include the presence of carcinogen-sensitive structures in greater numbers or for longer periods in the gland and inhibited functional differentiation leading to malnutrition or increased mortality of their offspring. Developmental toxicants of the mammary gland could lead to an increase in the incidence of mammary tumors if they alter circulating or tissue-localized hormone levels, gland receptor expression patterns, hormone transport, or metabolism that results in altered response to endogenous hormones or growth factors. Environmental disruptors of rodent mammary gland development must be identified for informed decisions in epidemiological studies aimed at identification of environmental factors contributing to breast cancer risk, altered breast development during puberty, or inability to produce sufficient breast milk.Endocrinology 07/2006; 147(6 Suppl):S18-24. · 4.72 Impact Factor
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Adult cancers may derive from stem or early progenitor cells. Epigenetic modulation of gene expression is essential for normal function of these early cells but is highly abnormal in cancers, which often show aberrant promoter CpG island hypermethylation and transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes and pro-differentiation factors. We find that for such genes, both normal and malignant embryonic cells generally lack the hypermethylation of DNA found in adult cancers. In embryonic stem cells, these genes are held in a 'transcription-ready' state mediated by a 'bivalent' promoter chromatin pattern consisting of the repressive mark, histone H3 methylated at Lys27 (H3K27) by Polycomb group proteins, plus the active mark, methylated H3K4. However, embryonic carcinoma cells add two key repressive marks, dimethylated H3K9 and trimethylated H3K9, both associated with DNA hypermethylation in adult cancers. We hypothesize that cell chromatin patterns and transient silencing of these important regulatory genes in stem or progenitor cells may leave these genes vulnerable to aberrant DNA hypermethylation and heritable gene silencing during tumor initiation and progression.Nature Genetics 03/2007; 39(2):237-42. · 35.21 Impact Factor