ERβ1 represses FOXM1 expression through targeting ERα to control cell proliferation in breast cancer

Am J Pathol. 2011 Sep;179(3):1148-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.05.052. Epub 2011 Jul 16.


In this study, we investigated the effects of ectopic estrogen receptor (ER)β1 expression in breast cancer cell lines and nude mice xenografts and observed that ERβ1 expression suppresses tumor growth and represses FOXM1 mRNA and protein expression in ERα-positive but not ERα-negative breast cancer cells. Furthermore, a significant inverse correlation exists between ERβ1 and FOXM1 expression at both protein and mRNA transcript levels in ERα-positive breast cancer patient samples. Ectopic ERβ1 expression resulted in decreased FOXM1 protein and mRNA expression only in ERα-positive but not ERα-negative breast carcinoma cell lines, suggesting that ERβ1 represses ERα-dependent FOXM1 transcription. Reporter gene assays showed that ERβ1 represses FOXM1 transcription through an estrogen-response element located within the proximal promoter region that is also targeted by ERα. The direct binding of ERβ1 to the FOXM1 promoter was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis, which also showed that ectopic expression of ERβ1 displaces ERα from the endogenous FOXM1 promoter. Forced expression of ERβ1 promoted growth suppression in MCF-7 cells, but the anti-proliferative effects of ERβ1 could be overridden by overexpression of FOXM1, indicating that FOXM1 is an important downstream target of ERβ1 signaling. Together, these findings define a key anti-proliferative role for ERβ1 in breast cancer development through negatively regulating FOXM1 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / physiology*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein M1
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • FOXM1 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein M1
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • RNA, Messenger