The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology

Estrogen-responsive RING finger protein controls breast cancer growth.

PMID 12943693


Most of the breast cancers initially respond to endocrine therapy that reduces the levels of estrogens or competes with estrogen for binding to its receptor. Most of the patients, however, acquire resistance to endocrine therapy with tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors later. We assumed that identification of estrogen-responsive genes those regulate the growth of breast cancer is indispensable to develop new strategies targeting the genes and overcome the resistance to current endocrine therapy. Estrogen-responsive finger protein (Efp) is one of the estrogen receptor (ER)-target genes we have cloned using genomic binding site cloning. Efp features a structure of the RING-finger B-box coiled-coil (RBCC) motif. We postulated that Efp is a critical factor in proliferation of breast tumors. In a model system using MCF7 cells grown in xenografts, we showed that inhibition of Efp expression by antisense oligonucleotide reduced the tumor growth. MCF7 cells overexpressing Efp formed tumors in xenografts even in estrogen deprivation environment. By yeast two-hybrid screen, we identified that Efp interacts with 14-3-3sigma, which is known as a cell cycle brake that causes G2 arrest and expressed in normal mammary glands. In vitro studies have revealed that Efp functions as a ubiquitin-protein ligase (E3) that targets 14-3-3sigma. These data suggest that Efp controls breast cancer growth through ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis of 14-3-3sigma. Future studies may provide a new therapy to block breast tumor proliferation by targeting Efp.