Progression to steroid insensitivity can occur irrespective of the presence of functional steroid receptors

Cell. 1987 Nov 20;51(4):521-8. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(87)90121-8.


A major problem in treatment of cancers arising in steroid-sensitive cells is their inevitable progression to a steroid-insensitive state; current therapies are based on the assumption that hormone insensitivity is associated with loss of receptor. We demonstrate for the first time that breast tumor cells can progress to steroid insensitivity in spite of functional steroid receptors. Transfection of the steroid-inducible LTR-C3 gene into unresponsive S115 mouse mammary tumor cells results in full inducibility of that gene with both androgen and glucocorticoid. Thus, although all known endogenous inducible parameters are lost, the steroid sensitivity of a transfected exogenous gene demonstrates that the machinery for steroid responsiveness is still fully functional. Furthermore, these transfected genes retain steroid sensitivity only while steroid is present; on prolonged withdrawal of steroid, they lose responsiveness, implying an epigenetic mechanism is involved.

MeSH terms

  • Androgen-Binding Protein / biosynthesis
  • Androgen-Binding Protein / genetics
  • Animals
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mammary Tumor Virus, Mouse / genetics
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / pathology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / drug effects
  • Prostatein
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Androgen / physiology*
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / physiology*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Secretoglobins
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects*
  • Uteroglobin


  • Androgen-Binding Protein
  • Prostatein
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Scgb1d2 protein, rat
  • Scgb1d4 protein, rat
  • Scgb2a2 protein, rat
  • Secretoglobins
  • Testosterone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Uteroglobin