"Mammogram" by slgckgc is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Estrogen Receptors More Versatile and Widespread Than Previously Recognized

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Mammogram" by slgckgc is licensed under CC BY 2.0Prof. Cathrin Brisken MD, PhD

ISREC, School of Life Sciences
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale (EPFL)
CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Estrogen receptor signaling has been well characterized in various in vitro models, like breast cancer cell lines.  Understanding estrogen receptor action in complex in vivo context is much more challenging.

We obtained elegant mouse models in which either all estrogen receptor function or specifically either the hormone dependent (AF-2) or the hormone independent (AF-1) function were ablated. Using the mammary glands from these mice we performed tissue recombination studies to discern the role of the different aspects of estrogen receptor signaling in the mouse mammary epithelium and its different cell populations.

 MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: We find that –

  • Both hormone dependent (AF-2) or the hormone independent (AF-1) function are required for the growth of the milk ducts during puberty and thereafter.
  • The estrogen receptor has an important role in breast cells that were previously thought not to express the receptor.
  • The role of the estrogen receptor is different in different cells depending on whether it is present in high amounts or low amounts.

The role of the estrogen receptor depends on the physiological context. In puberty the estrogen receptor stimulates growth, during pregnancy it does the opposite, it inhibits growth.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

 Response: Our current immunohistochemistry-based assessment of estrogen receptor status that distinguish estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative cells are overly simple. The estrogen receptor is more versatile than we thought. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: More attention needs to be paid to the amount of estrogen receptor in a cell, the concentration of estrogens and the physiologic context in order to gain more insights into breast cancer development, prevention and therapy of the disease. 


Oestrogen receptor α AF-1 and AF-2 domains have cell population-specific functions in the mammary epithelium

Stéphanie Cagnet, Dalya Ataca, George Sflomos, Patrick Aouad, Sonia Schuepbach-Mallepell, Henry Hugues, Andrée Krust, Ayyakkannu Ayyanan, Valentina Scabia & Cathrin Brisken

Nature Communications volume 9, Article number: 4723 (2018

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Nov 10, 2018 @ 12:18 pm 

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