MCF-7 breast cancer cells overexpressing transfected c-erbB-2 have an in vitro growth advantage in estrogen-depleted conditions and reduced estrogen-dependence and tamoxifen-sensitivity in vivo

Yiliang Liu, Dorraya El-Ashry, Denise Chen, Ivan Yi Fan Ding, Francis G. Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

151 Scopus citations

Abstract

A c-erbB-2 expression vector was transfected into the estrogen receptor positive (ER+) MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line to determine if overexpression of this transmembrane tyrosine kinase could increase the malignant phenotype of this cell line. Loss of transfected c-erbB-2 expression was observed when cells were carried in medium containing estrogen. Homogeneous populations stably overexpressing levels of the 185 kDa c-erbB-2 observed in the SKBR-3 a breast cancer cell line which overexpresses c-erbB-2 as a result of gene amplification could be obtained by continually maintaining the transfected cell lines in estrogen-free conditions. Levels of constitutively activated c-erbB-2 varied among clonal isolates. Whereas some over-expressing lines did acquire the ability to form transient tumor nodules in ovariectomized nude mice without estrogen supplementation, as well as in mice that received the antiestrogen tamoxifen, one cell line that exhibited the highest levels of constitutively activated c-erbB-2 was able to form static tumors of a larger size under both conditions. This same cell line formed progressively growing tumors in estrogen-supplemented mice that were much larger than observed in mice injected with control cell lines, and also showed reduced sensitivity to antiestrogens in vitro, but it continued to have a low metastatic phenotype. These results suggest that signal transduction mediated by the c-erbB-2 tyrosine kinase can partially overcome the estrogen dependence of ER+ breast cancer cells for growth and that c-erbB-2 overexpression confers a selective advantage to such cells in the absence of estrogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-117
Number of pages21
JournalBreast cancer research and treatment
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 1995

Keywords

  • breast cancer
  • c-erbB-2
  • growth factor receptors
  • growth factors
  • HER-2/neu
  • transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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