Tamoxifen (TAM) is a synthetic non-steroidal anti-estrogen compound that is widely used as an effective chemotherapeutic agent for treatment and prevention of breast cancer. Unfortunately, prolonged treatment with TAM causes TAM-responsive tumors to become TAM resistant through an as-yet-unknown mechanism. To develop novel anti-breast cancer agents that are therapeutically superior to TAM, we must first fully understand the biological effects of TAM. In this study, we found that TAM treatment of MDA-MB-361 breast cancer cells activated p21Waf1/Cip1 gene transcription independently of p53. Furthermore, TAM-induced p21Waf1/Cip1 promoter activity was enhanced by transient expression of the gene encoding Early Growth Response-1 (Egr-1) protein, a transcription factor that plays an important role in cell growth and differentiation. The TAM-induced p21Waf1/Cip1 promoter activity was blocked by the expression of small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeted to Egr-1 mRNA. In addition, induction of Egr-1 expression by TAM occurred at the transcriptional level via Ets-domain transcription factor Elk-1 through the JNK and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways. Inhibition of the JNK and p38 MAP kinase signals inhibited Egr-1-mediated p21Waf1/Cip1 promoter activity. We conclude that TAM stimulation of p21Waf1/Cip1 gene transcription in MDA-MB-361 cells depends largely on Elk-1-mediated Egr-1 expression induced by activation of the JNK and p38 MAP kinase pathways.
- Mitogen-activated protein kinase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology