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Type: Journal article
Title: The unique transcriptional response produced by concurrent estrogen and progesterone treatment in breast cancer cells results in upregulation of growth factor pathways and switching from a Luminal A to a Basal-like subtype
Author: Need, E.
Selth, L.
Trotta, A.
Leach, D.
Giorgio, L.
O'Loughlin, M.
Smith, E.
Gill, P.
Ingman, W.
Graham, J.
Buchanan, G.
Citation: BMC Cancer, 2015; 15(1):791-1-791-17
Publisher: Biomed Central
Issue Date: 2015
ISSN: 1471-2407
Statement of
Eleanor F. Need, Luke A. Selth, Andrew P. Trotta, Damien A. Leach, Lauren Giorgio, Melissa A. O, Loughlin, Eric Smith, Peter G. Gill, Wendy V. Ingman, J. Dinny Graham and Grant Buchanan
Abstract: In breast cancer, progesterone receptor (PR) positivity or abundance is positively associated with survival and treatment response. It was initially believed that PR was a useful diagnostic marker of estrogen receptor activity, but increasingly PR has been recognised to play an important biological role in breast homeostasis, carcinogenesis and metastasis. Although PR expression is almost exclusively observed in estrogen receptor positive tumors, few studies have investigated the cellular mechanisms of PR action in the context of ongoing estrogen signalling.In this study, we contrast PR function in estrogen pretreated ZR-75-1 breast cancer cells with vehicle treated ZR-75-1 and T-47D breast cancer cells using expression microarrays and chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing.Estrogen cotreatment caused a dramatic increase in the number of genes regulated by progesterone in ZR-75-1 cells. In T-47D cells that have naturally high levels of PR, estrogen and progesterone cotreatment resulted in a reduction in the number of regulated genes in comparison to treatment with either hormone alone. At a genome level, estrogen pretreatment of ZR-75-1 cells led to a 10-fold increase in the number of PR DNA binding sites detected using ChIP-sequencing. Time course assessment of progesterone regulated genes in the context of estrogen pretreatment highlighted a series of important regulatory pathways, including those driven by epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR). Importantly, progesterone applied to cells pretreated with estradiol resulted in switching of the PAM50-determined intrinsic breast cancer subtype from Luminal A to Basal-like, and increased the Oncotype DX® Unscaled Recurrence Score.Estrogen pretreatment of breast cancer cells increases PR steady state levels, resulting in an unequivocal progesterone response that upregulates key members of growth factor pathways. The transformative changes progesterone exerts on the breast cancer subtype suggest that these subtyping tools should be used with caution in premenopausal women.
Keywords: Progesterone receptor; Estrogen receptor; EGFR; Crosstalk; PAM50
Rights: © 2015 Need et al. Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030037935
DOI: 10.1186/s12885-015-1819-3
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