Epigenetic regulation of estrogen signaling in breast cancer

Epigenetics. 2013 Mar;8(3):237-45. doi: 10.4161/epi.23790. Epub 2013 Jan 30.


Estrogen signaling is mediated by ERα and ERβ in hormone dependent, breast cancer (BC). Over the last decade the implication of epigenetic pathways in BC tumorigenesis has emerged: cancer-related epigenetic modifications are implicated in both gene expression regulation, and chromosomal instability. In this review, the epigenetic-mediated estrogen signaling, controlling both ER level and ER-targeted gene expression in BC, are discussed: (1) ER silencing is frequently observed in BC and is often associated with epigenetic regulations while chemical epigenetic modulators restore ER expression and increase response to treatment;(2) ER-targeted gene expression is tightly regulated by co-recruitment of ER and both coactivators/corepressors including HATs, HDACs, HMTs, Dnmts and Polycomb proteins.

Keywords: DNA methylation; breast cancer; epigenetic; estrogen; histones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Transcription Factors