The role and regulation of the nuclear receptor co-activator AIB1 in breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Jul;116(2):225-37. doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0405-2. Epub 2009 May 6.


AIB1 (amplified in breast cancer 1), also called SRC-3 and NCoA-3, is a member of the p160 nuclear receptor co-activator family and is considered an important oncogene in breast cancer. Increased AIB1 levels in human breast cancer have been correlated with poor clinical prognosis. Overexpression of AIB1 in conjunction with members of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF/HER) tyrosine kinase family, such as HER2, is associated with resistance to tamoxifen therapy and decreased disease-free survival. A number of functional studies in cell culture and in rodents indicate that AIB1 has a pleiotropic role in breast cancer. Initially AIB1 was shown to have a role in the estrogen-dependent proliferation of breast epithelial cells. However, AIB1 also affects the growth of hormone-independent breast cancer and AIB1 levels are limiting for IGF-1-, EGF- and heregulin-stimulated biological responses in breast cancer cells and consequently the PI3 K/Akt/mTOR and other EGFR/HER2 signaling pathways are controlled by changes in AIB1 protein levels. The cellular levels and activity of AIB1 are in turn regulated at the levels of transcription, mRNA stability, post-translational modification, and by a complex control of protein half life. In particular, AIB1 activity as well as its half-life is modulated through a number of post-translational modifications including serine, threonine and tyrosine phosphorylation via kinases that are components of multiple signal transduction pathways. This review summarizes the possible mechanisms of how dysregulation of AIB1 at multiple levels can lead to the initiation and progression of breast cancer as well as its role as a predictor of response to breast cancer therapy, and as a possible therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 3
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Trans-Activators
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • NCOA3 protein, human
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 3