Constitutive expression of progesterone receptor isoforms promotes the development of hormone-dependent ovarian neoplasms

Sci Signal. 2020 Oct 6;13(652):eaaz9646. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aaz9646.


Differences in the relative abundances of the progesterone receptor (PGR) isoforms PGRA and PGRB are often observed in women with reproductive tract cancers. To assess the importance of the PGR isoform ratio in the maintenance of the reproductive tract, we generated mice that overexpress PGRA or PGRB in all PGR-positive tissues. Whereas few PGRA-overexpressing mice developed reproductive tract tumors, all PGRB-overexpressing mice developed ovarian neoplasms that were derived from ovarian luteal cells. Transcriptomic analyses of the ovarian tumors from PGRB-overexpressing mice revealed enhanced AKT signaling and a gene expression signature similar to those of human ovarian and endometrial cancers. Treating PGRB-overexpressing mice with the PGR antagonist RU486 stalled tumor growth and decreased the expression of cell cycle-associated genes, indicating that tumor growth and cell proliferation were hormone dependent in addition to being isoform dependent. Analysis of the PGRB cistrome identified binding events at genes encoding proteins that are critical regulators of mitotic phase entry. This work suggests a mechanism whereby an increase in the abundance of PGRB relative to that of PGRA drives neoplasia in vivo by stimulating cell cycling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Progesterone / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / genetics*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Transcriptome / genetics*


  • Hormones
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • progesterone receptor A
  • progesterone receptor B
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol