Gokul Das, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Breast Disease Site Research Group, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY
Probing Estrogen Receptor−Tumor Suppressor p53 Interaction in Cancer: From Basic Research to Clinical Trial
Tumor suppressor p53 and estrogen receptor have opposite roles in the onset and progression of breast cancer. p53 responds to a variety of cellular of stresses by restricting the proliferation and survival of abnormal cells. Estrogen receptor plays an important role in normal mammary gland development and the preservation of adult mammary gland function; however, when deregulated it becomes abnormally pro-proliferative and greatly contributes to breast tumorigenesis. The biological actions of estrogens are mediated by two genetically distinct estrogen receptors (ERs): ER alpha and ER beta. In addition to its expression in several ER alpha-positive breast cancers and normal mammary cells, ER beta is usually present in ER alpha-negative cancers including triple-negative breast cancer. In spite of genetically being wild type, why p53 is functionally debilitated in breast cancer has remained unclear. Our recent finding that ER alpha binds directly to p53 and inhibits its function has provided a novel mechanism for inactivating genetically wild type p53 in human cancer. Using a combination of proliferation and apoptosis assays, RNAi technology, quantitative chromatin immunoprecipitation (qChIP), and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR), in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA), and protein expression analysis in patient tissue micro array (TMA), we have demonstrated binding of ER alpha to p53 and have delineated the domains on both the proteins necessary for the interaction. Importantly, ionizing radiation inhibits the ER-p53 interaction in vivo both in human cancer cells and human breast tumor xenografts in mice. In addition, antiestrogenstamoxifen and faslodex/fulvestrant (ICI 182780) disrupt the ER-p53 interaction and counteract the repressive effect of ER alpha on p53, whereas 17β-estradiol (E2) enhances the interaction. Intriguingly, E2 has diametrically opposite effects on corepressor recruitment to a p53-target gene promoter versus a prototypic ERE-containing promoter. Thus, we have uncovered a novel mechanism by which estrogen could be providing a strong proliferative advantage to cells by dual mechanisms: enhancing expression of ERE-containing pro-proliferative genes while at the same time inhibiting transcription of p53-dependent anti-proliferative genes. Consistently, ER alpha enhances cell cycle progression and inhibits apoptosis of breast cancer cells. Correlating with these observations, our retrospective clinical study shows that presence of wild type p53 in ER-positive breast tumors is associated with better response to tamoxifen therapy. These data suggest ER alpha-p53 interaction could be one of the mechanisms underlying resistance to tamoxifen therapy, a major clinical challenge encountered in breast cancer patients. We have launched a prospective clinical trial to analyze ER-p53 interaction in breast cancer patient tumors at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Our more recent finding that ER beta has opposite functions depending on the mutational status of p53 in breast cancer cells is significant in understanding the hard-to-treat triple-negative breast cancer and in developing novel therapeutic strategies against it. Our integrated approach to analyze ER-p53 interaction at the basic, translational, and clinical research levels has major implications in the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of breast cancer.
Sunilkumar Sukumaran, Ayyappan Nair, Madhuri Subbiah, Gunja Gupta, Lakshmi Rajakrishna, Pradeep Savanoor Raghavendra, Subbulakshmi Karthikeyan, Salini Krishnan Unni and Ganesh Sambasivam
Genotoxicity is defined as DNA damage that leads to gene mutations which can become tumorigenic. Genotoxicity testing is important to ensure drug safety and is mandatory prior to Phase I/II clinical trials of new drugs. The results from genetic toxicology studies help to identify hazardous drugs and environmental genotoxins. Currently, among others there are four tests recommended by regulatory authorities (Ames test-bacterial, chromosome aberrations; in vitro gene mutation-eukaryotic cells and in vivo test). These assays are laborious, time consuming, require large quantities of test compounds and limited by throughput challenges. The site and mechanism of genotoxicity are not revealed by these assays and data obtained from bacterial tests might not translate the same in mammals. To address these we have developed a novel, versatile, human cell based, high throughput, reporter based genotoxicity screen (Anthemâ€™s Genotox screen). This screen is performed on genetically engineered human cell lines that express 3 reporter genes under transcriptional control of â€˜early DNA damage sensorsâ€™ (p53, p21 and GADD153). These genes are involved in DNA repair, cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis. p21 and GADD are also known to be induced in a p53 independent manner. p53 blocks G1/S transition of cell cycle while the p53 independent DNA damage block G2/M transition. Identification of the mechanism of genotoxicity helps in rational drug designing. Additionally, the platform can be used to screen other potential genotoxins from cosmetics, food and environment. Initial validation studies of the Genotox screen was performed with over 60 compounds chosen from a variety of chemical classes. The genotoxic potential of metabolites was tested using rat liver S9 fractions. The results demonstrated a sensitivity of 86.7â€“92.3% and a specificity of 70â€“78.6% when compared with currently available in vitro genotoxicity assays. This Genotox screen would prove to be an invaluable human cell based tool to weed out potential genotoxins in various industries.