The over-expression of ERbeta modifies estradiol effects on mitochondrial dynamics in breast cancer cell line

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2013 Jul;45(7):1509-15. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 Apr 22.


Mitochondrial biogenesis and function are under the control of 17β-estradiol, which acts through two distinct estrogen receptors (alpha or beta), and the estrogen receptors ratio can determine the final effect of 17β-estradiol on mitochondria. Our aim was to study the effects of 17β-estradiol on mitochondrial biogenesis, dynamics and function in breast cancer cell lines with different estrogen receptors ratios. Mitochondrial biogenesis was increased in MDA-MB-231 (with only estrogen receptor beta expression), T47D (normal estrogen receptors ratio) and MCF-7 (highest estrogen receptors ratio) breast cancer cell lines, in response to different mitochondrial and cellular status. In fact, mitochondria of the MDA-MB-231 and T47D cell lines maintained their functionality, although, the MCF-7 cell line did suffer an important decrease in mitochondrial function. Thus, mitochondrial biogenesis increased in MCF-7 with the aim of mitigating these defective mitochondria. In normal conditions, mitophagic processes remove defective mitochondria to refresh the mitochondrial pool. Mitochondrial dynamics were also under control by 17β-estradiol, and showed modifications in the fusion/fission processes and the modulation of mitochondrial removal. In fact, cells with only estrogen receptor beta or with a low estrogen receptors ratio, such as MDA-MB-231 and T47D, showed an increase in fusion processes. However, the MCF-7 cell line, with more estrogen receptor alpha, also showed an increase in fusion processes, even though the fission processes were diminished and led to an accumulation of unfunctional mitochondria. Finally, the importance of estrogen receptor beta in mitochondrial biogenesis, function, as well as in mitochondrial dynamics was examined. Using the T47D-estrogen receptor beta tetracycline-inducible cell line, the results confirmed that when the overexpression of estrogen receptor beta was inhibited, there was an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis, although these mitochondria were less functional, and with fewer fission events, although there was an increase in fusion processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase / metabolism
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / biosynthesis
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics / physiology*


  • Cardiolipins
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Estradiol
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases