Pietro Rizza

Università della Calabria, Rende, Calabria, Italy

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Publications (18)87.32 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Tamoxifen resistance is a major clinical challenge in breast cancer treatment. Aromatase inhibitors are effective in women who progressed or recurred on tamoxifen, suggesting a role of local estrogen production by aromatase in driving tamoxifen-resistant phenotype. However, the link between aromatase activity and tamoxifen resistance has not yet been reported. We investigated whether long-term tamoxifen exposure may affect aromatase activity and/or expression, which may then sustain tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cell growth. We employed MCF-7 breast cancer cells, tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 cells (MCF-7 TR1 and TR2), SKBR-3 breast cancer cells, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs1 and CAFs2). We used tritiated-water release assay, realtime-RT-PCR, and immunoblotting analysis for evaluating aromatase activity and expression; anchorage-independent assays for growth; reporter-gene, electrophoretic-mobility-shift, and chromatin-immunoprecipitation assays for promoter activity studies. We demonstrated an increased aromatase activity and expression, which supports proliferation in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells. This is mediated by the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR30/GPER, since knocking-down GPER expression or treatment with a GPER antagonist reversed the enhanced aromatase levels induced by long-term tamoxifen exposure. The molecular mechanism was investigated in ER-negative, GPER/aromatase-positive SKBR3 cells, in which tamoxifen acts as a GPER agonist. Tamoxifen treatment increased aromatase promoter activity through an enhanced recruitment of c-fos/c-jun complex to AP-1 responsive elements located within the promoter region. As tamoxifen via GPER induced aromatase expression also in CAFs, this pathway may be involved in promoting aggressive behavior of breast tumors in response to tamoxifen treatment. Blocking estrogen production and/or GPER signaling activation may represent a valid option to overcome tamoxifen-resistance in breast cancers.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 06/2014; · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The two isoforms of estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and beta play opposite roles in regulating proliferation and differentiation of breast cancers, with ER-alpha mediating mitogenic effects and ER-beta acting as a tumor suppressor. Emerging data have reported that androgen receptor (AR) activation inhibits ER-positive breast cancer progression mainly by antagonizing ER-alpha signaling. However, to date no studies have specifically evaluated a potential involvement of ER-beta in the inhibitory effects of androgens. ER-beta expression was examined in human breast cancer cell lines using real-time PCR, Western blotting and small interfering RNA (siRNA) assays. Mutagenesis studies, electromobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis were performed to assess the effects of mibolerone/AR on ER-beta promoter activity and binding. In this study, we demonstrate that mibolerone, a synthetic androgen ligand, up-regulates ER-beta mRNA and protein levels in ER-positive breast cancer cells. Transient transfection experiments, using a vector containing the human ER-beta promoter region, show that mibolerone increases basal ER-beta promoter activity. Site-directed mutagenesis and deletion analysis reveal that an androgen response element (ARE), TGTTCT motif located at positions -383 and -377, is critical for mibolerone-induced ER-beta up-regulation in breast cancer cells. This occurs through an increased recruitment of AR to the ARE site within the ER-beta promoter region, along with an enhanced occupancy of RNA polymerase II. Finally, silencing of ER-beta gene expression by RNA interference is able to partially reverse the effects of mibolerone on cell proliferation, p21 and cyclin D1 expression. Collectively, these data provide evidence for a novel mechanism by which activated AR, through an up-regulation of ER-beta gene expression, inhibits breast cancer cell growth.
    Breast cancer research: BCR 02/2014; 16(1):R21. · 5.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adiponectin, the most abundant protein secreted by adipose tissue, exhibits insulin-sensitizing, anti-inflammatory, antiatherogenic, and antiproliferative properties. In addition, it appears to play an important role also in the development and progression of several obesity-related malignancies, including breast cancer. Here, we demonstrated that adiponectin induces a dichotomic effect on breast cancer growth. Indeed, it stimulates growth in ERα+ MCF-7 cells while inhibiting proliferation of ERα- MDA-MB-231 cells. Notably, only in MCF-7 cells adiponectin exposure exerts a rapid activation of MAPK phosphorylation, which is markedly reduced when knockdown of the ERα gene occurred. In addition, adiponectin induces rapid IGF-IR phosphorylation in MCF-7 cells, and the use of ERα siRNA prevents this effect. Moreover, MAPK activation induced by adiponectin was reversed by IGF-IR siRNA. Coimmunoprecipitation studies show the existence of a multiprotein complex involving AdipoR1, APPL1, ERα, IGF-IR, and c-Src that is responsible for MAPK signaling activation in ER- positive breast cancer cells. It is well known that in addition to the rapid effects through non-genomic mechanisms, ERα also mediates nuclear genomic actions. In this concern, we demonstrated that adiponectin is able to transactivate ERα in MCF-7 cells. We showed the classical features of ERα transactivation: nuclear localization, downregulation of mRNA and protein levels, and upregulation of estrogen-dependent genes. Thus, our study clarifies the molecular mechanism through which adiponectin modulates breast cancer cell growth, providing evidences on the cell-type dependency of adiponectin action in relationship to ERα status.
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 12/2013; 13(4). · 5.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have demonstrated that thyroid hormone T3 promotes cancer cell growth, even though the molecular mechanism involved in such processes still needs to be elucidated. In this study we demonstrated that T3 induced proliferation in papillary thyroid carcinoma cell lines concomitantly with an up-regulation of cyclin D1 expression, that is a critical mitogen-regulated cell-cycle control element. Our data revealed that T3 enhanced the recruitment of the TRβ1/Oct-1 complex on Octamer-transcription factor-1 site within cyclin D1 promoter, leading to its transactivation. In addition, silencing of TRβ1 or Oct-1 expression by RNA interference reversed both increased cell proliferation and up-regulation of cyclin D1, underlying the important role of both transcriptional factors in mediating these effects. Finally, T3-induced increase in cell growth was abrogated after knocking down cyclin D1 expression. All these findings highlight a new molecular mechanism by which T3 promotes thyroid cancer cell growth.
    Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 10/2013; · 4.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sexual hormones, estrogens and androgens, determine biological response in a tissue- and gender-specific manner and have a pivotal role in endocrine-mediated tumorigenesis. In situ estrogen production by aromatase is a critical determinant for breast cancer growth and progression. On the contrary, clinical and in vitro studies indicate that androgens have a protective role in mammary carcinogenesis. Here, we demonstrated, in hormone-dependent breast cancer cells, the existence of a functional interplay between the androgen receptor (AR), the orphan nuclear receptor DAX-1 and the aromatase enzyme involved in the inhibition of the estrogen-dependent breast cancer cell proliferation exerted by androgen signaling. Indeed, our results revealed, in MCF-7 cells, that ligand-activated AR induces the expression of the orphan nuclear receptor DAX-1 by direct binding to a newly identified androgen-response-element within the DAX-1 proximal promoter. In turn, androgen-induced DAX-1 is recruited, in association with the corepressor N-CoR, within the SF-1/LRH-1 containing region of the aromatase promoter, thereby repressing aromatase expression and activity. In elucidating a novel mechanism by which androgens, through DAX-1, inhibit aromatase expression in breast cancer cell lines, these findings reinforce the theory of androgen- opposing estrogen-action, opening new avenues for therapeutic intervention in estrogen-dependent breast tumors.
    Cell Death & Disease 01/2013; 4:e724. · 6.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ERα function is crucial for the development of normal mammary gland as well as in the process of progression of breast cancer cells. Signals that target receptor levels contribute to regulate estrogens effects in the cells. An intricate cross-regulation has been documented between ERα and TGF-β down-stream molecules: SMAD2, SMAD3, and SMAD4, that can bind ERα and regulate their signaling. Thus, identification of natural anticancer drugs able to influence the latter molecule might provide alternative choices for breast cancer treatment. Taking into account our previous published data we wanted to study the effect of 5-Methoxypsoralen (bergapten) on ERα and on TGF-β pathway. We reported that bergapten, a coumarin containing compound, effectively depletes ERα in MCF-7 breast cancer sensitive cells and in tamoxifen-resistant clone. The decrease of ERα protein after bergapten treatment results from the ubiquitine-proteasome pathway as demonstrated by the use of MG-132. IP experiments with ER antibody, demonstrated that the protein has physical interaction with SMAD4 and poly-ubiquitine and the amount of ubiquitinated receptor, linked to SMAD4, is greater under bergapten. The crucial role played by SMAD4, in this process, emerges from the observation that in breast cancer cells, silencing of SMAD4, resulted in increased expression of endogenous ERα in both control and bergapten-treated cells, compared to wild- type cells. The same results were confirmed in siRNA TGF-β RII cells. The results suggest a novel negative regulation of ERα by TGF-β/SMAD4 in breast cancer cells and indicate that the SMAD4 protein is involved in the degradation of ERα induced by bergapten. We propose that bergapten may efficiently act as a natural antitumoral agent, able to deplete ERα from breast cancer tamoxifen-sensitive and resistant cells, thereby retraining the effect of membrane signals targeting ERα and in such way its mitogenic potentiality.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 10/2012; · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Local estrogen production by aromatase is an important mechanism of autocrine stimulation in hormone-dependent breast cancer. We have previously shown that 17-β estradiol (E(2)) rapidly enhances aromatase enzymatic activity through an increase of tyrosine protein phosphorylation controlled by the activity of the c-Src kinase in breast cancer cells. Here, we investigated the protein tyrosine phosphatase PTP1B (protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B) as a potential regulator of aromatase activity. We demonstrated a specific association between PTP1B and aromatase at protein-protein level and a reduction of aromatase activity in basal and E(2)-treated MCF-7 and ZR75 breast cancer cells when PTP1B was overexpressed. Indeed, a specific tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor increased basal and E(2)-induced enzymatic activity as well as tyrosine phosphorylation status of the purified aromatase protein. Moreover, E(2) through phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase/Akt activation caused a significant decrease of PTP1B catalytic activity along with an increase in its serine phosphorylation. Concomitantly, the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase inhibitor LY294002 or a dominant negative of Akt was able to reduce the E(2) stimulatory effects on activity and tyrosine phosphorylation levels of aromatase. Taken together, our results suggest that E(2) can impair PTP1B ability to dephosphorylate aromatase, and thus it increases its enzymatic activity, creating a positive feedback mechanism for estradiol signaling in breast cancer.
    Endocrinology 09/2012; 153(11):5157-66. · 4.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human estrogen receptors alpha and beta are crucially involved in the regulation of mammary growth and development. Normal breast tissues display a relative higher expression of ER beta than ER alpha, which drastically changes during breast tumorogenesis. Thus, it is reasonable to suggest that a dysregulation of the two estrogen receptor subtypes may induce breast cancer development. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the potential opposing roles played by the two estrogen receptors on tumor cell growth remain to be elucidated. In the present study, we have demonstrated that ER beta overexpression in breast cancer cells decreases cell proliferation and down-regulates ER alpha mRNA and protein content, along with a concomitant repression of estrogen-regulated genes. Transient transfection experiments, using a vector containing the human ER alpha promoter region, showed that elevated levels of ER beta down-regulated basal ER alpha promoter activity. Furthermore, site-directed mutagenesis and deletion analysis revealed that the proximal GC-rich motifs at -223 and -214 are critical for the ER beta-induced ER alpha down-regulation in breast cancer cells. This occurred through ER beta-Sp1 protein-protein interactions within the ER alpha promoter region and the recruitment of a corepressor complex containing the nuclear receptor corepressor NCoR, accompanied by hypoacetylation of histone H4 and displacement of RNA-polymerase II. Silencing of NCoR gene expression by RNA interference reversed the down-regulatory effects of ER beta on ER alpha gene expression and cell proliferation. Our results provide evidence for a novel mechanism by which overexpression of ER beta through NCoR is able to down regulate ER alpha gene expression, thus blocking ER alpha's driving role on breast cancer cell growth.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 05/2012; 134(2):569-81. · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity is a major risk factor for the development and progression of breast cancer. Leptin, a cytokine mainly produced by adipocytes, plays a crucial role in mammary carcinogenesis and is elevated in hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. The antidiabetic thiazolidinediones inhibit leptin gene expression through ligand activation of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) and exert antiproliferative and apoptotic effects on breast carcinoma. In this study, we investigated the ability of PPARγ ligands to counteract leptin stimulatory effects on breast cancer growth in either in vivo or in vitro models. The results show that activation of PPARγ prevented the development of leptin-induced MCF-7 tumor xenografts and inhibited the increased cell-cell aggregation and proliferation observed on leptin exposure. PPARγ ligands abrogated the leptin-induced up-regulation of leptin gene expression and its receptors in breast cancer. PPARγ-mediated repression of leptin gene involved the recruitment of nuclear receptor corepressor protein and silencing mediator of retinoid and thyroid hormone receptors corepressors on the glucocorticoid responsive element site in the leptin gene expression regulatory region in the presence of glucocorticoid receptor and PPARγ. In addition, PPARγ ligands inhibited leptin signaling mediated by MAPK/STAT3/Akt phosphorylation and counteracted leptin stimulatory effect on estrogen signaling. These findings suggest that PPARγ ligands may have potential therapeutic benefits in the treatment of breast cancer.
    American Journal Of Pathology 06/2011; 179(2):1030-40. · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tamoxifen (Tam) treatment is a first-line endocrine therapy for estrogen receptor-α-positive breast cancer patients. Unfortunately, resistance frequently occurs and is often related with overexpression of the membrane tyrosine kinase receptor HER2. This is the rationale behind combined treatments with endocrine therapy and novel inhibitors that reduce HER2 expression and signaling and thus inhibit Tam-resistant breast cancer cell growth. In this study, we show that activation of farnesoid X receptor (FXR), by the primary bile acid chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) or the synthetic agonist GW4064, inhibited growth of Tam-resistant breast cancer cells (termed MCF-7 TR1), which was used as an in vitro model of acquired Tam resistance. Our results demonstrate that CDCA treatment significantly reduced both anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced growth in MCF-7 TR1 cells. Furthermore, results from western blot analysis and real-time reverse transcription-PCR revealed that CDCA treatment reduced HER2 expression and inhibited EGF-mediated HER2 and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation in these Tam-resistant breast cancer cells. Transient transfection experiments, using a vector containing the human HER2 promoter region, showed that CDCA treatment downregulated basal HER2 promoter activity. This occurred through an inhibition of nuclear factor-κB transcription factor binding to its specific responsive element located in the HER2 promoter region as revealed by mutagenesis studies, electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis. Collectively, these data suggest that FXR ligand-dependent activity, blocking HER2/MAPK signaling, may overcome anti-estrogen resistance in human breast cancer cells and could represent a new therapeutic tool to treat breast cancer patients that develop resistance.
    Oncogene 04/2011; 30(39):4129-40. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In breast tumors the expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) is known to be associated with a more favorable prognosis. ERα expression has been reported to reduce the metastatic potential of breast cancer cells. Recently, we have observed that extracellular matrix proteins activate ERα and that both liganded and unliganded receptor modulate cell invasiveness acting at nuclear level. To explain the mechanisms by which ERα regulates cell adhesion, we have evaluated the expression of α(5)β(1) integrin, prevalently expressed in stationary cells, in response to 17β-estradiol (E2). Here we show that E2/ERα increases the expression of integrin α(5)β(1) through Sp1-mediated binding to a GC-rich region located upstream of an ERE half-site in the 5' flanking region of the α(5) gene forming a ternary ERα-Sp1-DNA complex. Estrogen responsiveness of the α(5) gene promoter, as observed in HeLa cells, underlies a general mechanism of regulation which is not strictly linked to the cell type. Our data reveal novel insight into the molecular mechanisms sustaining the reduced invasiveness of ERα expressing cells demonstrating that α(5)β(1) integrin expression is related to the maintenance of the stationary status of the cells, counteracting E2/ERα capability to enhance breast cancer cell migration and invasion.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 11/2010; 124(1):63-77. · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The growth of many breast tumors is stimulated by estradiol (E2), which activates a classic mechanism of regulation of gene expression and signal transduction pathways inducing cell proliferation. Polyphenols of natural origin with chemical similarity to estrogen have been shown to interfere with tumor cell proliferation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether hydroxytyrosol (HT) and oleuropein (OL), two polyphenols contained in extra-virgin olive oil, can affect breast cancer cell proliferation interfering with E2-induced molecular mechanisms. Both HT and OL inhibited proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Luciferase gene reporter experiments, using a construct containing estrogen responsive elements able to bind estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and the study of the effects of HT or OL on ERalpha expression, demonstrated that HT and OL are not involved in ERalpha-mediated regulation of gene expression. However, further experiments pointed out that both OL and HT determined a clear inhibition of E2-dependent activation of extracellular regulated kinase1/2 belonging to the mitogen activating protein kinase family. Our study demonstrated that HT and OL can have a chemo-preventive role in breast cancer cell proliferation through the inhibition of estrogen-dependent rapid signals involved in uncontrolled tumor cell growth.
    Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 12/2009; 54(6):833-40. · 4.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In situ estrogen production by aromatase conversion from androgens plays an important role in breast tumor promotion. Here, we show that 17beta-estradiol (E2) can rapidly enhance aromatase enzymatic activity through an increase of aromatase protein phosphorylation in breast cancer cell lines. In vivo labeling experiments and site-directed mutagenesis studies demonstrated that phosphorylation of the 361-tyrosine residue is crucial in the up-regulation of aromatase activity under E2 exposure. Our results demonstrated a direct involvement of nonreceptor tyrosine-kinase c-Src in E2-stimulated aromatase activity because inhibition of its signaling abrogated the up-regulatory effects induced by E2 on aromatase activity as well as phosphorylation of aromatase protein. In addition, from our data it emerges that aromatase is a target of cross talk between growth factor receptors and estrogen receptor alpha signaling. These findings show, for the first time, that tyrosine phosphorylation processes play a key role in the rapid changes induced by E2 in aromatase enzymatic activity, revealing the existence of a short nongenomic autocrine loop between E2 and aromatase in breast cancer cells.
    Molecular Endocrinology 07/2009; 23(10):1634-45. · 4.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity is a risk factor for endometrial cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women. Leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone, in addition to the control weight homeostasis, is implicated in multiple biological actions. A recent study demonstrated that leptin promotes endometrial cancer growth and invasiveness through STAT/MAPK and Akt pathways, but the molecular mechanism involved in such processes still needs to be elucidated. In an attempt to understand the role of leptin in regulating endometrial cancer cells proliferation, we have demonstrated that leptin treatment reduced the numbers of cells in G0/G1-phase while increased cell population in S-phase. This effect is associated with an up-regulation of cyclin D1 together with a down-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21(WAF1/Cip1). Mutagenesis studies, eletrophoretic mobility shift, and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) and cyclic AMP-responsive element (CRE) binding protein motifs, within cyclin D1 promoter, were required for leptin-induced cyclin D1 expression in Ishikawa endometrial cancer cells. Silencing of STAT3 and CREB gene expression by RNA interference reversed the up-regulatory effect of leptin on cyclin D1 expression and cells proliferation. These results support the hypothesis that STAT3 and CREB play an important role in leptin signaling pathway that leads to the proliferation of Ishikawa cells, thus establishing a direct association between obesity and endometrial tumorogenesis.
    Journal of Cellular Physiology 12/2008; 218(3):490-500. · 4.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The testis is an immunologically privileged site of the body where Sertoli cells work on to favor local immune tolerance by testicular autoantigens segregation and immunosuppressive factors secretion. Fas/Fas Ligand (FasL) system, expressed prevalently in Sertoli cells, has been considered to be one of the central mechanisms in testis immunological homeostasis. In different cell lines it has been reported that the proapoptotic protein FasL is regulated by 17-beta estradiol (E2). Thus, using as experimental model mouse Sertoli cells TM4, which conserve a large spectrum of functional features present in native Sertoli cells, like aromatase activity, we investigated if estradiol "in situ" production may influence FasL expression. Our results demonstrate that an aromatizable androgen like androst-4-ene-3,17-dione (Delta4) enhanced FasL mRNA, protein content and promoter activity in TM4 cells. The treatment with N(6),2'-O-dibutyryladenosine-3'-5'-cyclic monophosphate [(Bu)(2)cAMP] (simulating FSH action), that is well known to stimulate aromatase activity in Sertoli cells, amplified Delta4 induced FasL expression. Functional studies of mutagenesis, electrophoretic mobility shift (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays revealed that the Sp-1 motif on FasL promoter was required for E2 enhanced FasL expression in TM4 cells. These data let us to recruit FasL among those genes whose expression is up-regulated by E2 through a direct interaction of ERalpha with Sp-1 protein. Finally, evidence that an aromatizable androgen is able to increase FasL expression suggests that E2 production by aromatase activity may contribute to maintain the immunoprivilege status of Sertoli cells.
    Journal of Cellular Physiology 06/2007; 211(2):448-56. · 4.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the present study, the molecular mechanism underlying the up-regulatory effect of estradiol (E2) on mouse insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) promoter was investigated in CHO cells on which the same promoter had first been functionally characterized. The mouse IRS-1 promoter bears four consensus half Estrogen Responsive Elements (ERE) sequences and thirteen AP-1- and ten Sp1-binding elements. We performed molecular dissection of this promoter gene providing 3' different deleted constructs, containing the same AP-1 rich region with a progressively increased number of ERE half sites located downstream. None of these constructs was responsive to E2, while a downstream region (nt -1420 to -160) rich in GC elements was induced by E2. However, the latter region lost its intrinsic E2 responsiveness when the whole IRS-1 promoter was mutated for deletion in all four ERE half sites. Deletion analysis of the ERE half sites demonstrated that only ERE located at the position -1500 to -1495, close to the GC-rich region, was able to maintain the induced activatory effect of E2 on the IRS-1 gene. Electrophoretic mobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays identified the region containing the half ERE/Sp1 (nt -1500 to -1477) as the one conferring E2 responsiveness to the whole promoter. This effect occurs through the functional interaction between E2/ERalpha and Sp1.
    Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 03/2006; 36(1):91-105. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Leptin is a hormone with multiple biological actions, produced predominantly by adipose tissue. In humans, plasma levels correlate with total body fat, and high concentrations occur in obese women. Among its functions, leptin is able to stimulate normal and tumor cell growth. We demonstrated that leptin induces aromatase activity in MCF-7 cells evidencing its important role in enhancing in situ estradiol production and promoting estrogen-dependent breast cancer progression. Estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha), which plays an essential role in breast cancer development, can be transcriptionally activated in a ligand-independent manner. Taking into account that unliganded ERalpha is an effector of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal and that leptin is able, via Janus kinase, to activate the Ras-dependent MAPK pathway, in the present study we investigate the ability of leptin to transactivate ERalpha. We provided evidence that leptin is able to reproduce the classic features of ERalpha transactivation in a breast cancer cell line: nuclear localization, down-regulation of its mRNA and protein levels, and up-regulation of a classic estrogen-dependent gene such as pS2. Transactivation experiments with a transfected reporter gene for nuclear ER showed an activation of ERalpha either in MCF-7 or in HeLa cells. Using a dominant negative ERK2 or the MAPK inhibitor PD 98059, we showed that leptin activates the ERalpha through the MAPK pathway. The N-terminal transcriptional activation function 1 appears essential for the leptin response. Finally, it is worth noting that leptin exposure potentates also the estradiol-induced activation of ERalpha. Thus, we are able to demonstrate that the amplification of estrogen signal induced by leptin occurs through an enhancing in situ E(2) production as well as a direct functional activation of ERalpha.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2004; 279(19):19908-15. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Leptin, a product of adipocytes, is involved in the regulation of body weight and results strongly correlated to body fat content. An excess of fat mass represents a breast cancer risk factor particularly in postmenopausal women, where estrogen production by adipose tissue through its own aromatase activity stimulates tumor progression. Leptin stimulates estrogen production through the increase of aromatase expression and activity in human luteinized granulosa cells and adipose stromal cells. In the present study, we have examined the possible link that exists between leptin and breast cancer, focusing our attention on the direct effect of leptin on aromatase activity, which may enhance estrogen production and induce tumor cell growth stimulation. We have shown that leptin enhances aromatase mRNA expression, aromatase content, and its enzymatic activity in MCF-7. Aromatase expression appears to be regulated by tissue-specific promoter. It has been demonstrated that promoters II and 1.3 are the major promoters that drive aromatase expression in MCF-7. Transient transfection experiments using vector containing human aromatase promoters II and 1.3 sequence fused with luciferase reporter gene demonstrated that leptin is able to activate this promoter. In the presence of either mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor PD 98059 or ERK2 dominant negative as well as in the presence of STAT3 dominant negative, the stimulatory effects of leptin on aromatase promoter, enzymatic activity, and aromatase protein content were inhibited. Functional studies of mutagenesis and electrophoretic mobility shift assay revealed that the AP-1 motif is important in determining the up-regulatory effects induced by leptin on aromatase expression in MCF-7.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2003; 278(31):28668-76. · 4.65 Impact Factor