Research Papers:

17β-estradiol regulates giant vesicle formation via estrogen receptor-alpha in human breast cancer cells

Paul K. Wright, Sarah Bowen Jones, Nicholas Ardern, Rebecca Ward, Robert B. Clarke, Federica Sotgia, Michael P. Lisanti, Goran Landberg and Rebecca Lamb _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:3055-3065. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1824

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Paul K Wright1,2, Sarah Bowen Jones3, Nicholas Ardern3, Rebecca Ward3, Robert B Clarke4, Federica Sotgia3, Michael P Lisanti3, Goran Landberg3,5,Rebecca Lamb3

1 Department of Histopathology, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK

2 Manchester Cytology Centre, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK

3 Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

4 Breast Biology Group, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

5 Sahlgrenska Cancer Center, University of Gothenburg, Sweden


Rebecca Lamb, email:

Keywords: Breast cancer, vesicle, estrogen, trafficking, exocytosis

Received: January 22, 2014 Accepted: March 14, 2014 Published: March 15, 2014


A significant proportion of the genes regulated by 17-beta-estradiol (E2) via estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) have roles in vesicle trafficking in breast cancer. Intracellular vesicle trafficking and extracellular vesicles have important roles in tumourigenesis. Here we report the discovery of giant (3-42μm) intracellular and extracellular vesicles (GVs) and the role of E2 on vesicle formation in breast cancer (BC) cell lines using three independent live cell imaging techniques. Large diameter  vesicles, GVs were also identified in a patient-derived xenograft BC model, and in invasive breast carcinoma tissue. ERα-positive (MCF-7 and T47D) BC cell lines demonstrated a significant increase in GV formation after stimulation with E2 which was reversed by tamoxifen. ERα-negative (MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468) BC cell lines produced GVs independently of E2 and tamoxifen. These results indicate the existence of both intracellular and extracellular vesicles with considerably larger dimensions than generally recognised with BC cells and suggest that the GVs are regulated by E2 via ERα in ERα-positive BC but by E2-independent mechanisms in ER-ve BC.

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