Research Papers:

Essential role of endogenous prolactin and CDK7 in estrogen-induced upregulation of the prolactin receptor in breast cancer cells

Raghuveer Kavarthapu and Maria L. Dufau _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:27353-27363. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16040

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Raghuveer Kavarthapu1, Maria L. Dufau1

1Section on Molecular Endocrinology, Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4510, USA

Correspondence to:

Maria L. Dufau, email: dufaum@mail.nih.gov

Keywords: estrogen receptor, prolactin, prolactin receptor, estradiol, STAT5

Received: November 17, 2016     Accepted: February 18, 2017     Published: March 09, 2017


Our early studies have shown that Estradiol (E2)/Estrogen Receptor α (ER) in a non-DNA dependent manner through complex formation with C/EBPβ/SP1 induced transcriptional activation of the generic hPIII promoter and expression of the Prolactin Receptor (PRLR) receptor in MCF-7 cells. Subsequent studies demonstrated effects of unliganded ERα with requisite participation of endogenous PRL on the activation of PRLR transcription. Also, EGF/ERBB1 in the absence of PRL and E2 effectively induced upregulation of the PRLR. In this study we have delineated the transcriptional mechanism of upregulation of PRLR receptor induced by E2 incorporating knowledge of the various transcriptional upregulation modalities from our previous studies. Here, we demonstrate an essential requirement of STAT5a induced by PRL via PRLR receptor which associates at the promoter and its interaction with phoshoERα S118. Knock-down of PRL by siRNA significantly reduced E2-induced PRLR promoter activity, mRNA and protein expression, recruitment of ERα to the complex at promoter, C/EBPβ association to its DNA site and productive complex formation at hPIII promoter. The specific CDK7 inhibitor (THZ1) that attenuates E2-induced ERα phosphorylation at S118 abrogated E2-induced PRLR promoter activation. Further studies demonstrated that E2 induced cell migration was inhibited by PRL siRNA and THZ1 indicating its dependence on PRL/PRLR and CDK7, respectively. Our studies have demonstrated the essential role of endogenous PRL and CDK7 in the upregulation of PRLR by E2 and provide insights for therapeutic approaches that will mitigate the transcription/expression of PRLR and its participation in breast cancer progression fueled by E2 and PRL via their cognate receptors.

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