Twist contributes to hormone resistance in breast cancer by downregulating estrogen receptor-α

Russell H Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA.
Oncogene (Impact Factor: 8.46). 11/2011; 31(27):3223-34. DOI: 10.1038/onc.2011.483
Source: PubMed


The role of estrogen receptor-α (ER) in breast cancer development, and as a primary clinical marker for breast cancer prognosis, has been well documented. In this study, we identified the oncogenic protein, TWIST1 (Twist), which is overexpressed in high-grade breast cancers, as a potential negative regulator of ER expression. Functional characterization of ER regulation by Twist was performed using Twist low (MCF-7, T-47D) and Twist high (Hs 578T, MDA-MB-231, MCF-7/Twist) expressing cell lines. All Twist high expressing cell lines exhibited low ER transcript and protein levels. By chromatin immunoprecipitation and promoter assays, we demonstrated that Twist could directly bind to E-boxes in the ER promoter and significantly downregulate ER promoter activity in vitro. Functionally, Twist overexpression caused estrogen-independent proliferation of breast cells, and promoted hormone resistance to the selective estrogen receptor modulator tamoxifen and selective estrogen receptor down-regulator fulvestrant. Importantly, this effect was reversible on downregulating Twist. In addition, orthotopic tumors generated in mice using MCF-7/Twist cells were resistant to tamoxifen. These tumors had high vascular volume and permeability surface area, as determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Mechanistically, Twist recruited DNA methyltransferase 3B (DNMT3B) to the ER promoter, leading to a significantly higher degree of ER promoter methylation compared with parental cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated by co-immunoprecipitation that Twist interacted with histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) at the ER promoter, causing histone deacetylation and chromatin condensation, further reducing ER transcript levels. Functional re-expression of ER was achieved using the demethylating agent, 5-azacytidine, and the HDAC inhibitor, valproic acid. Finally, an inverse relationship was observed between Twist and ER expression in human breast tumors. In summary, the regulation of ER by Twist could be an underlying mechanism for the loss of ER activity observed in breast tumors, and may contribute to the generation of hormone-resistant, ER-negative breast cancer.

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    • "Twist1 associates with regulatory elements (E-boxes) on the ESR1 promoter and recruits the chromatin-suppressive apparatus. Histone acetylation and DNA methylation are incurred[115]. As a result, cell lines with high Twist expression were noted to be negative for ER by Western blotting, while the reverse was true for cell lines with low Twist expression. "
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    ABSTRACT: Steroid Nuclear Receptors (SNRs) are transcription factors of the nuclear receptor super-family. Estrogen Receptor (ERα) is the best-studied and has a seminal role in the clinic both as a prognostic marker but also as a predictor of response to anti-estrogenic therapies. Progesterone Receptor (PR) is also used in the clinic but with a more debatable prognostic role and the role of the four other SNRs, ERβ, Androgen Receptor (AR), Glucocorticoid Receptor (GR) and Mineralocorticoid Receptor (MR), is starting only to be appreciated. ERα, but also to a certain degree the other SNRs, have been reported to be involved in virtually every cancer-enabling process, both promoting and impeding carcinogenesis. Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and the reverse Mesenchymal Epithelial Transition (MET) are such carcinogenesis-enabling processes with important roles in invasion and metastasis initiation but also establishment of tumor in the metastatic site. EMT is governed by several signal transduction pathways culminating in core transcription factors of the process, such as Snail, Slug, ZEB1 and ZEB2, and Twist, among others. This paper will discuss direct regulation of these core transcription factors by SNRs in breast cancer. Interrogation of publicly available databases for binding sites of SNRs on promoters of core EMT factors will also be included in an attempt to fill gaps where other experimental data are not available.
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    • "by recruiting DNA methyltransferase 3B and histone deacetylase 1 to the ER promoter region, resulting in endocrine resistance (Vesuna et al. 2012). Another prominent EMT-related transcription factor, Snail, has also been implicated in ER suppression and endocrine resistance (Dhasarathy et al. 2007). "
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    • "[44, 45]. This is also in agreement with recent studies showing that overexpression of TWIST induces ALDH1 expression in cell lines [46, 47]. "
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