Reciprocal regulation of ZEB1 and AR in triple negative breast cancer cells

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Aug;123(1):139-47. doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0623-7. Epub 2009 Nov 18.


Zinc-finger enhancer binding protein (ZEB1) is a transcription factor involved in the progression of cancer primarily through promoting epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). ZEB1 represses the expression of E-cadherin by binding to E-box sequences in the promoter, thus decreasing epithelial differentiation. We show that ZEB1 and androgen receptor (AR) cross-talk in triple negative breast cancer cell lines. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrates that ZEB1 binds directly to the E-box located in the AR promoter. ZEB1 suppression by stably transfecting shRNA in a triple negative breast cancer cell line resulted in a decrease of AR mRNA, protein, and AR downstream targets. ZEB1 knockdown in triple negative breast cancer cells sensitized the cells to bicalutamide by reducing migration compared to the control cells. Conversely, blockade of AR signaling with bicalutamide resulted in a suppression of ZEB1 protein expression in two triple negative breast cancer cell lines. Furthermore, using a breast cancer tissue microarray, a majority of triple negative breast cancers exhibit positive staining for both ZEB1 and AR. Taken together, these results indicate that ZEB1 and AR regulate each other to promote cell migration in triple negative breast cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Receptor Cross-Talk / physiology*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Progesterone / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Transcription Factors
  • ZEB1 protein, human
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1
  • Receptor, ErbB-2