Obesity is a risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer and the majority of these cancers are estrogen dependent. Aromatase converts androgens into estrogens and its increased expression in breast adipose stromal cells (ASC) is a major driver of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. In particular, obesity-associated and tumor-derived factors, such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), have been shown to drive the expression of aromatase by stimulating the activity of the proximal promoter II (PII). The tumor-suppressor p53 is a key regulator of cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis and is frequently mutated in breast cancer. Mutations in p53 are rare in tumor-associated ASCs. Therefore, it was hypothesized that p53 is regulated by PGE2 and involved in the PGE2-mediated regulation of aromatase. Results demonstrate that PGE2 causes a significant decrease in p53 transcript and nuclear protein expression, as well as phosphorylation at Ser15 in primary human breast ASCs. Stabilization of p53 with RITA leads to a significant decrease in the PGE2-stimulated aromatase mRNA expression and activity, and PII activity. Interaction of p53 with PII was demonstrated and this interaction is decreased in the presence of PGE2. Moreover, mutation of the identified p53 response element leads to an increase in the basal activity of the promoter. Immunofluorescence on clinical samples demonstrates that p53 is decreased in tumor-associated ASCs compared with ASCs from normal breast tissue, and that there is a positive association between perinuclear (inactive) p53 and aromatase expression in these cells. Furthermore, aromatase expression is increased in breast ASCs from Li-Fraumeni patients (germline TP53 mutations) compared with non-Li-Fraumeni breast tissue. Overall, our results demonstrate that p53 is a negative regulator of aromatase in the breast and its inhibition by PGE2 provides a novel mechanism for aromatase regulation in obesity and breast cancer.
Wang, X., Docanto, M., Sasano, H., Lo, C. Y-W., Simpson, E. R., & Brown, K. A. (2015). Prostaglandin E2 inhibits p53 in human breast adipose stromal cells: a novel mechanism for the regulation of aromatase in obesity and breast cancer. Cancer Research, 75(4), 645 - 655. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-2164