Posttranslationally modified progesterone receptors direct ligand-specific expression of breast cancer stem cell-associated gene programs

Todd P Knutson, Thu H. Truong, Shihong Ma, Nicholas J. Brady, Megan E. Sullivan, Ganesh Raj, Kaylee Schwertfeger, Carol A Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background: Estrogen and progesterone are potent breast mitogens. In addition to steroid hormones, multiple signaling pathways input to estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) actions via posttranslational events. Protein kinases commonly activated in breast cancers phosphorylate steroid hormone receptors (SRs) and profoundly impact their activities. Methods: To better understand the role of modified PRs in breast cancer, we measured total and phospho-Ser294 PRs in 209 human breast tumors represented on 2754 individual tissue spots within a tissue microarray and assayed the regulation of this site in human tumor explants cultured ex vivo. To complement this analysis, we assayed PR target gene regulation in T47D luminal breast cancer models following treatment with progestin (promegestone; R5020) and antiprogestins (mifepristone, onapristone, or aglepristone) in conditions under which the receptor is regulated by Lys388 SUMOylation (K388 intact) or is SUMO-deficient (via K388R mutation to mimic persistent Ser294 phosphorylation). Selected phospho-PR-driven target genes were validated by qRT-PCR and following RUNX2 shRNA knockdown in breast cancer cell lines. Primary and secondary mammosphere assays were performed to implicate phospho-Ser294 PRs, epidermal growth factor signaling, and RUNX2 in breast cancer stem cell biology. Results: Phospho-Ser294 PR species were abundant in a majority (54%) of luminal breast tumors, and PR promoter selectivity was exquisitely sensitive to posttranslational modifications. Phospho-PR expression and target gene programs were significantly associated with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Consistent with our finding that activated phospho-PRs undergo rapid ligand-dependent turnover, unique phospho-PR gene signatures were most prevalent in breast tumors clinically designated as PR-low to PR-null (luminal B) and included gene sets associated with cancer stem cell biology (HER2, PAX2, AHR, AR, RUNX). Validation studies demonstrated a requirement for RUNX2 in the regulation of selected phospho-PR target genes (SLC37A2). In vitro mammosphere formation assays support a role for phospho-Ser294-PRs via growth factor (EGF) signaling as well as RUNX2 as potent drivers of breast cancer stem cell fate. Conclusions: We conclude that PR Ser294 phosphorylation is a common event in breast cancer progression that is required to maintain breast cancer stem cell fate, in part via cooperation with growth factor-initiated signaling pathways and key phospho-PR target genes including SLC37A2 and RUNX2. Clinical measurement of phosphorylated PRs should be considered a useful marker of breast tumor stem cell potential. Alternatively, unique phospho-PR target gene sets may provide useful tools with which to identify patients likely to respond to selective PR modulators that block PR Ser294 phosphorylation as part of rational combination (i.e., with antiestrogens) endocrine therapies designed to durably block breast cancer recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number89
JournalJournal of Hematology and Oncology
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 17 2017

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Neoplastic Stem Cells
Progesterone Receptors
Breast Neoplasms
Ligands
Genes
Promegestone
Phosphorylation
Epidermal Growth Factor
Cell Biology
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
Hormones
Sumoylation
Lobular Carcinoma
Mifepristone
Estrogen Receptor Modulators
Steroid Receptors
Validation Studies
Progestins
Post Translational Protein Processing
Mitogens

Keywords

  • Antiprogestin
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer stem cells
  • ERK/MAP kinase (MAPK)
  • Estrogen receptor (ER)
  • Onapristone
  • Phosphorylation
  • Progesterone receptor (PR)
  • RUNX2
  • SUMOylation

Cite this

Posttranslationally modified progesterone receptors direct ligand-specific expression of breast cancer stem cell-associated gene programs. / Knutson, Todd P; Truong, Thu H.; Ma, Shihong; Brady, Nicholas J.; Sullivan, Megan E.; Raj, Ganesh; Schwertfeger, Kaylee; Lange, Carol A.

In: Journal of Hematology and Oncology, Vol. 10, No. 1, 89, 17.04.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Background: Estrogen and progesterone are potent breast mitogens. In addition to steroid hormones, multiple signaling pathways input to estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) actions via posttranslational events. Protein kinases commonly activated in breast cancers phosphorylate steroid hormone receptors (SRs) and profoundly impact their activities. Methods: To better understand the role of modified PRs in breast cancer, we measured total and phospho-Ser294 PRs in 209 human breast tumors represented on 2754 individual tissue spots within a tissue microarray and assayed the regulation of this site in human tumor explants cultured ex vivo. To complement this analysis, we assayed PR target gene regulation in T47D luminal breast cancer models following treatment with progestin (promegestone; R5020) and antiprogestins (mifepristone, onapristone, or aglepristone) in conditions under which the receptor is regulated by Lys388 SUMOylation (K388 intact) or is SUMO-deficient (via K388R mutation to mimic persistent Ser294 phosphorylation). Selected phospho-PR-driven target genes were validated by qRT-PCR and following RUNX2 shRNA knockdown in breast cancer cell lines. Primary and secondary mammosphere assays were performed to implicate phospho-Ser294 PRs, epidermal growth factor signaling, and RUNX2 in breast cancer stem cell biology. Results: Phospho-Ser294 PR species were abundant in a majority (54{\%}) of luminal breast tumors, and PR promoter selectivity was exquisitely sensitive to posttranslational modifications. Phospho-PR expression and target gene programs were significantly associated with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Consistent with our finding that activated phospho-PRs undergo rapid ligand-dependent turnover, unique phospho-PR gene signatures were most prevalent in breast tumors clinically designated as PR-low to PR-null (luminal B) and included gene sets associated with cancer stem cell biology (HER2, PAX2, AHR, AR, RUNX). Validation studies demonstrated a requirement for RUNX2 in the regulation of selected phospho-PR target genes (SLC37A2). In vitro mammosphere formation assays support a role for phospho-Ser294-PRs via growth factor (EGF) signaling as well as RUNX2 as potent drivers of breast cancer stem cell fate. Conclusions: We conclude that PR Ser294 phosphorylation is a common event in breast cancer progression that is required to maintain breast cancer stem cell fate, in part via cooperation with growth factor-initiated signaling pathways and key phospho-PR target genes including SLC37A2 and RUNX2. Clinical measurement of phosphorylated PRs should be considered a useful marker of breast tumor stem cell potential. Alternatively, unique phospho-PR target gene sets may provide useful tools with which to identify patients likely to respond to selective PR modulators that block PR Ser294 phosphorylation as part of rational combination (i.e., with antiestrogens) endocrine therapies designed to durably block breast cancer recurrence.",
keywords = "Antiprogestin, Breast cancer, Cancer stem cells, ERK/MAP kinase (MAPK), Estrogen receptor (ER), Onapristone, Phosphorylation, Progesterone receptor (PR), RUNX2, SUMOylation",
author = "Knutson, {Todd P} and Truong, {Thu H.} and Shihong Ma and Brady, {Nicholas J.} and Sullivan, {Megan E.} and Ganesh Raj and Kaylee Schwertfeger and Lange, {Carol A}",
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T1 - Posttranslationally modified progesterone receptors direct ligand-specific expression of breast cancer stem cell-associated gene programs

AU - Knutson, Todd P

AU - Truong, Thu H.

AU - Ma, Shihong

AU - Brady, Nicholas J.

AU - Sullivan, Megan E.

AU - Raj, Ganesh

AU - Schwertfeger, Kaylee

AU - Lange, Carol A

PY - 2017/4/17

Y1 - 2017/4/17

N2 - Background: Estrogen and progesterone are potent breast mitogens. In addition to steroid hormones, multiple signaling pathways input to estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) actions via posttranslational events. Protein kinases commonly activated in breast cancers phosphorylate steroid hormone receptors (SRs) and profoundly impact their activities. Methods: To better understand the role of modified PRs in breast cancer, we measured total and phospho-Ser294 PRs in 209 human breast tumors represented on 2754 individual tissue spots within a tissue microarray and assayed the regulation of this site in human tumor explants cultured ex vivo. To complement this analysis, we assayed PR target gene regulation in T47D luminal breast cancer models following treatment with progestin (promegestone; R5020) and antiprogestins (mifepristone, onapristone, or aglepristone) in conditions under which the receptor is regulated by Lys388 SUMOylation (K388 intact) or is SUMO-deficient (via K388R mutation to mimic persistent Ser294 phosphorylation). Selected phospho-PR-driven target genes were validated by qRT-PCR and following RUNX2 shRNA knockdown in breast cancer cell lines. Primary and secondary mammosphere assays were performed to implicate phospho-Ser294 PRs, epidermal growth factor signaling, and RUNX2 in breast cancer stem cell biology. Results: Phospho-Ser294 PR species were abundant in a majority (54%) of luminal breast tumors, and PR promoter selectivity was exquisitely sensitive to posttranslational modifications. Phospho-PR expression and target gene programs were significantly associated with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Consistent with our finding that activated phospho-PRs undergo rapid ligand-dependent turnover, unique phospho-PR gene signatures were most prevalent in breast tumors clinically designated as PR-low to PR-null (luminal B) and included gene sets associated with cancer stem cell biology (HER2, PAX2, AHR, AR, RUNX). Validation studies demonstrated a requirement for RUNX2 in the regulation of selected phospho-PR target genes (SLC37A2). In vitro mammosphere formation assays support a role for phospho-Ser294-PRs via growth factor (EGF) signaling as well as RUNX2 as potent drivers of breast cancer stem cell fate. Conclusions: We conclude that PR Ser294 phosphorylation is a common event in breast cancer progression that is required to maintain breast cancer stem cell fate, in part via cooperation with growth factor-initiated signaling pathways and key phospho-PR target genes including SLC37A2 and RUNX2. Clinical measurement of phosphorylated PRs should be considered a useful marker of breast tumor stem cell potential. Alternatively, unique phospho-PR target gene sets may provide useful tools with which to identify patients likely to respond to selective PR modulators that block PR Ser294 phosphorylation as part of rational combination (i.e., with antiestrogens) endocrine therapies designed to durably block breast cancer recurrence.

AB - Background: Estrogen and progesterone are potent breast mitogens. In addition to steroid hormones, multiple signaling pathways input to estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) actions via posttranslational events. Protein kinases commonly activated in breast cancers phosphorylate steroid hormone receptors (SRs) and profoundly impact their activities. Methods: To better understand the role of modified PRs in breast cancer, we measured total and phospho-Ser294 PRs in 209 human breast tumors represented on 2754 individual tissue spots within a tissue microarray and assayed the regulation of this site in human tumor explants cultured ex vivo. To complement this analysis, we assayed PR target gene regulation in T47D luminal breast cancer models following treatment with progestin (promegestone; R5020) and antiprogestins (mifepristone, onapristone, or aglepristone) in conditions under which the receptor is regulated by Lys388 SUMOylation (K388 intact) or is SUMO-deficient (via K388R mutation to mimic persistent Ser294 phosphorylation). Selected phospho-PR-driven target genes were validated by qRT-PCR and following RUNX2 shRNA knockdown in breast cancer cell lines. Primary and secondary mammosphere assays were performed to implicate phospho-Ser294 PRs, epidermal growth factor signaling, and RUNX2 in breast cancer stem cell biology. Results: Phospho-Ser294 PR species were abundant in a majority (54%) of luminal breast tumors, and PR promoter selectivity was exquisitely sensitive to posttranslational modifications. Phospho-PR expression and target gene programs were significantly associated with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Consistent with our finding that activated phospho-PRs undergo rapid ligand-dependent turnover, unique phospho-PR gene signatures were most prevalent in breast tumors clinically designated as PR-low to PR-null (luminal B) and included gene sets associated with cancer stem cell biology (HER2, PAX2, AHR, AR, RUNX). Validation studies demonstrated a requirement for RUNX2 in the regulation of selected phospho-PR target genes (SLC37A2). In vitro mammosphere formation assays support a role for phospho-Ser294-PRs via growth factor (EGF) signaling as well as RUNX2 as potent drivers of breast cancer stem cell fate. Conclusions: We conclude that PR Ser294 phosphorylation is a common event in breast cancer progression that is required to maintain breast cancer stem cell fate, in part via cooperation with growth factor-initiated signaling pathways and key phospho-PR target genes including SLC37A2 and RUNX2. Clinical measurement of phosphorylated PRs should be considered a useful marker of breast tumor stem cell potential. Alternatively, unique phospho-PR target gene sets may provide useful tools with which to identify patients likely to respond to selective PR modulators that block PR Ser294 phosphorylation as part of rational combination (i.e., with antiestrogens) endocrine therapies designed to durably block breast cancer recurrence.

KW - Antiprogestin

KW - Breast cancer

KW - Cancer stem cells

KW - ERK/MAP kinase (MAPK)

KW - Estrogen receptor (ER)

KW - Onapristone

KW - Phosphorylation

KW - Progesterone receptor (PR)

KW - RUNX2

KW - SUMOylation

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U2 - 10.1186/s13045-017-0462-7

DO - 10.1186/s13045-017-0462-7

M3 - Article

VL - 10

JO - Journal of Hematology and Oncology

JF - Journal of Hematology and Oncology

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M1 - 89

ER -