Overlapping but distinct gene regulation profiles by glucocorticoids and progestins in human breast cancer cells

Yihong Wan, Steven K. Nordeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glucocorticoids and progestins bind to receptors that share many structural and functional similarities, including virtually identical DNA recognition specificity. Nonetheless, the two hormones mediate very distinct biological functions. For example, progestins are associated with the incidence and progression of breast cancer, whereas glucocorticoids are growth suppressive in mammary cancer cells. To understand the mechanisms that engender biological specificity, it is necessary to identify genes that are differentially regulated by the two receptors. Here we employ Affymetrix oligonucleotide arrays to compare glucocorticoid- and progestin-regulated gene expression in a human breast cancer cell line. This global analysis reveals that the two hormones regulate overlapping but distinct sets of genes, including 31 genes that are differentially regulated. Surprisingly, the set of differentially regulated genes was almost as large as the set of genes regulated by both hormones. Examination of the set of differentially regulated genes suggests mechanisms behind the distinct growth effects of the two hormones in breast cancer. The differential regulation of four genes representing different regulatory patterns was confirmed by RT-PCR and Northern blot analyses. Treatment with cycloheximide or RU486 indicates that the regulation is a primary, receptor-mediated event. Detailed analyses of genes identified in these studies will furnish a mechanistic understanding of differential regulation by glucocorticoids and progestins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1204-1214
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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