[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) is a ligand-inducible transcription factor that acts to regulate gene expression by binding to palindromic DNA sequence, known as the estrogen response element, in promoters of estrogen-regulated genes. In breast cancer ERalpha plays a central role, where estrogen-regulated gene expression leads to tumor initiation, growth and survival. As an approach to silencing estrogen-regulated genes, we have studied the activities of a fusion protein between ERalpha and the promyelocytic leukemia zinc-finger (PLZF) protein, a transcriptional repressor that acts through chromatin remodeling. To do this, we have developed lines from the estrogen-responsive MCF-7 breast cancer cell line in which the expression of the fusion protein PLZF-ERalpha is conditionally regulated by tetracycline and shows that these feature long-term silencing of the expression of several well-characterized estrogen-regulated genes, namely pS2, cathepsin-D and the progesterone receptor. However, the estrogen-regulated growth of these cells is not inhibited unless PLZF-ERalpha expression is induced, an observation that we have confirmed both in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, these results show that PLZF-ERalpha is a potent repressor of estrogen-regulated gene expression and could be useful in distinguishing estrogen-regulated genes required for the growth of breast cancer cells.