Estrogen receptor (ER)alpha-regulated lipocalin 2 expression in adipose tissue links obesity with breast cancer progression

Brian Gary Drew, Habib Hamidi, Zhenqi Zhou, Claudio J Villanueva, Susan A Krum, Anna Calkin, Brian Wesley Parks, Vicent Ribas, Nareg Y Kalajian, Jennifer Phun, Pedram Daraei, Heather Renee Christofk, Sylvia Curtis Hewitt, Kenneth S Korach, Peter Tontonoz, Aldons Jake Lusis, Dennis J Slamon, Sara A Hurvitz, Andrea Hevener

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56 Citations (Scopus)


Obesity is associated with increased breast cancer (BrCA) incidence. Considering that inactivation of estrogen receptor (ER)a promotes obesity and metabolic dysfunction in women and female mice, understanding the mechanisms and tissuespecific sites of ERa action to combat metabolic-related disease, including BrCA, is of clinical importance. To study the role of ERa in adipose tissue we generated fat-specific ERa knock-out (FERKO) mice. Herein we show that ERa deletion increased adipocyte size, fat pad weight, and tissue expression and circulating levels of the secreted glycoprotein, lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), an adipokine previously associated with BrCA development. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and luciferase reporter studies showed that ERa binds the Lcn2 promoter to repress its expression. Because adipocytes constitute an important cell type of the breast microenvironment, we examined the impact of adipocyte ERa deletion on cancer cell behavior. Conditioned medium from ERa-null adipocytes and medium containing pure Lcn2 increased proliferation and migration of a subset of BrCA cells in culture. The proliferative and promigratory effects of ERa-deficient adipocyte-conditioned medium on BrCA cells was reversed by Lcn2 deletion. BrCA cell responsiveness to exogenous Lcn2 was heightened in cell types where endogenous Lcn2 expression was minimal, but components of the Lcn2 signaling pathway were enriched, i.e. SLC22A17 and 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase (BDH2). In breast tumor biopsies from women diagnosed with BrCA we found that BDH2 expression was positively associated with adiposity and circulating Lcn2 levels. Collectively these data suggest that reduction of ERa expression in adipose tissue promotes adiposity and is linked with the progression and severity of BrCA via increased adipocyte-specific Lcn2 production and enhanced tumor cell Lcn2 sensitivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5566 - 5581
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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