Mediator of DNA Damage Checkpoint 1 (MDC1) Is a Novel Estrogen Receptor Coregulator in Invasive Lobular Carcinoma of the Breast

Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Aug;19(8):1270-1282. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-21-0025. Epub 2021 May 4.


Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is the most common special histologic subtype of breast cancer, and nearly all ILC tumors express estrogen receptor alpha (ER). However, clinical and laboratory data suggest ILC are strongly estrogen-driven but not equally antiestrogen-sensitive. We hypothesized ILC-specific ER coregulators mediate ER functions and antiestrogen resistance in ILC, and profiled ER-associated proteins by mass spectrometry. Three ER+ ILC cell lines (MDA MB 134VI, SUM44PE, and BCK4) were compared with ER+ invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) line data, and we examined whether siRNA of identified proteins suppressed ER-driven proliferation in ILC cells. This identified mediator of DNA damage checkpoint 1 (MDC1), a tumor suppressor in DNA damage response (DDR), as a novel ER coregulator in ILC. We confirmed ER:MDC1 interaction was specific to ILC versus IDC cells, and found MDC1 knockdown suppressed ILC cell proliferation and tamoxifen resistance. Using RNA-sequencing, we found in ILC cells MDC1 knockdown broadly dysregulates the ER transcriptome, with ER:MDC1 target genes enriched for promoter hormone response elements. Importantly, our data are inconsistent with MDC1 tumor suppressor functions in DDR, but suggest a novel oncogenic role for MDC1 as an ER coregulator. Supporting this, in breast tumor tissue microarrays, MDC1 protein was frequently low or absent in IDC, but MDC1 loss was rare in ER+ ILC. ER:MDC1 interaction and MDC1 coregulator functions may underlie ER function in ILC and serve as targets to overcome antiestrogen resistance in ILC. IMPLICATIONS: MDC1 has novel ER coregulator activity in ILC, which may underlie ILC-specific ER functions, estrogen response, and antiestrogen resistance.

Trial registration: NCT02206984.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / genetics*
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / drug effects
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Transcriptome / drug effects
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • MDC1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Tamoxifen

Associated data