Progesterone receptor modulates ERα action in breast cancer

Hisham Mohammed, I. Alasdair Russell, Rory Stark, Oscar M. Rueda, Theresa E. Hickey, Gerard A. Tarulli, Aurelien A A Serandour, Stephen N. Birrell, Alejandra Bruna, Amel Saadi, Suraj Menon, James Hadfield, Michelle Pugh, Ganesh V. Raj, Gordon D. Brown, Clive D'Santos, Jessica L L Robinson, Grace Silva, Rosalind Launchbury, Charles M. PerouJohn Stingl, Carlos Caldas, Wayne D. Tilley, Jason S. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

416 Scopus citations


Progesterone receptor (PR) expression is used as a biomarker of oestrogen receptor-α (ERα) function and breast cancer prognosis. Here we show that PR is not merely an ERα-induced gene target, but is also an ERα-associated protein that modulates its behaviour. In the presence of agonist ligands, PR associates with ERα to direct ERα chromatin binding events within breast cancer cells, resulting in a unique gene expression programme that is associated with good clinical outcome. Progesterone inhibited oestrogen-mediated growth of ERα+ cell line xenografts and primary ERα+ breast tumour explants, and had increased anti-proliferative effects when coupled with an ERα antagonist. Copy number loss of PGR, the gene coding for PR, is a common feature in ERα+ breast cancers, explaining lower PR levels in a subset of cases. Our findings indicate that PR functions as a molecular rheostat to control ERα chromatin binding and transcriptional activity, which has important implications for prognosis and therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-317
Number of pages5
Issue number7560
StatePublished - Jul 16 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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