Modulation of estrogen receptor-dependent reporter construct activation and G(0)/G(1)-S-phase transition by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in human breast carcinoma MCF-7 cells
It has been suggested that the estrogenicity of PAHs could contribute to their carcinogenic effects via increased tissue-specific cell proliferation. Both benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) and benz[a]anthracene (BaA) are known to weakly activate estrogen receptor (ER)dependent reporter constructs. In this study, several other PAHs, including fluorene, fluoranthene, pyrene, chrysene, phenanthrene and anthracene, were found to act as very weak inducers of ER-mediated activity in the MCF-7 cell line stably transfected with a luciferase reporter gene. The effects of PAHs were time-dependent and they were not completely inhibited by antiestrogen ICI 182,780. In addition, BaP and BaA, as well as weakly estrogenic fluoranthene, significantly potentiated the maximum ER-mediated activity of 17beta-estradiol. Therefore, the effects of inhibitors of several types of protein kinases known to activate ERalpha in a ligand-independent manner were investigated. However, neither inhibitors nor inducers of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase, protein kinase C, c-Src, or protein kinase A modified ER-mediated activity in this model. Neither estradiol nor BaA activated ERK1/2, two kinases suggested to play significant roles in ER signaling, suggesting that another kinase is involved in the observed phosphorylation of ERa. Similar to 17beta-estradiol, BaA stimulated G(0)/G(1)-S-phase transition in MCF-7 cells, which was fully suppressed by ICI 182,780. In conclusion, some PAHs can potentiate 17beta-estradiol-induced ER activation and stimulate cell cycle entry in vitro. However, their exact mode(s) of action and whether this phenomenon is of in vivo relevance remains to be elucidated.