PNAS February 23, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0809516106
Wnt-5a signaling restores tamoxifen sensitivity in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer cells
Caroline E. Forda,b,1, Elin J. Ekstr?ma and Tommy Anderssona+Author Affiliations
aCell and Experimental Pathology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Malm? University Hospital, Malm?, 20502, Sweden; andbIntegrated Cancer Research Group, Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, AustraliaEdited by Jan-?ke Gustafsson, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, and approved January 8, 2009 (received for review September 23, 2008)
One third of all breast cancers are estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) negative, carry a poor overall prognosis, and do not respond well to currently available endocrine therapies. New treatment strategies are therefore required. Loss of Wnt-5a has previously been correlated with loss of ERα in clinical breast cancer samples, and we sought to investigate this association further. Three breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, and 4T1) lacking expression of ERα and Wnt-5a, and one breast cancer cell line (T47D) expressing both proteins were used in this study. Wnt-5a signaling was generated in ERα-negative cell lines via stimulation with either recombinant Wnt-5a protein or a Wnt-5a-derived hexapeptide (Foxy-5) possessing Wnt-5a signaling properties. ERα expression was restored at both mRNA and protein level, after treatment with recombinant Wnt-5a or Foxy-5. This restoration of expression occurred in parallel with a reduction in methylation of the ERα promoter. Up-regulated ERα could be activated, initiate transcription of progesterone receptor and pS2, and activate an estrogen response element reporter construct. Significantly, breast cancer cells re-expressing ERα responded to treatment with the selective estrogen receptor modulator tamoxifen, as measured by induction of apoptosis and cell growth inhibition. Finally, Foxy-5 also increased ERα expression in an in vivo model of ERα-negative breast cancer. This represents the first evidence that Wnt-5a signaling acts to re-establish ERα expression in ERα-negative breast cancer cells. Our data suggest that combinatorial therapy with Foxy-5 and tamoxifen should be considered as a future treatment possibility for ERα-negative breast cancer patients.