Inhibitory actions of Ah receptor agonists and indole-containing compounds in breast cancer cell lines and mouse models



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Texas A&M University


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) binds synthetic and chemoprotective phytochemicals, and research in this laboratory has developed selective AhR modulators (SAhRMs) for treatment of breast cancer. Activation of the AhR through agonists such as TCDD inhibits hormone activation of several E2-responsive genes in breast cancer cell lines. In this study, inhibition of E2-induced proliferation and gene expression by TCDD has been investigated in the uterus of wildtype, ERKO and AhRKO mice. Cyclin D1, DNA polymerase ?, and VEGF mRNA levels are induced by E2 through ER? in the uterus as determined by in situ hybridization studies. TCDD down-regulated E2-induced cyclin D1 and DNA polymerase ? expression, but not E2-induced VEGF expression, in wild-type mice, but not AhRKO mice, confirming the role of the AhR. Furthermore, protein synthesis was not necessary for induction of cyclin D1 or DNA polymerase ?gene expression by E2 or inhibition of these responses by TCDD. Therefore, AhR-ER? crosstalk directly regulates the expression of genes involved in cell proliferation in vivo. AhR agonists induce down-regulation of ErbB family receptors in multiple tissues/organs suggesting possible inhibitory interactions with chemotherapeutic potential. Recently, it has been reported that the SAhRM 1,1??,2,2??-tetramethyldiindolylmethane inhibited DMBA-induced mammary tumor growth in rats and also inhibited MAPK and PI3-K pathways in human breast cancer cells. BT-474 and MDA-MB-453 cell lines are ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells that express functional AhR and exhibit constitutive activation of MAPK and PI3-K pathways. Therefore, 1,1??,2,2??-tetramethyldiindolylmethane-induced inhibition of ErbB2 signaling was investigated in these cells lines and in the MMTV-c-neu mouse mammary tumor model, which overexpresses ErbB2 in the mammary gland. The growth of ErbB2 overexpressing cell lines and mammary tumors was inhibited by 1,1??,2,2??-tetramethyldiindolylmethane; however, modulation of MAPK or PI3-K pathways and cell cycle proteins nor induction of apoptosis by 1,1',2,2'-tetramethyldiindolylmethane was observed in the ErbB2overexpressing cell lines. Current studies are investigating mitochondrial effects of 1,1??,2,2??-tetramethyldiindolylmethane in the ErbB2-overexpressing cell lines, as well as continuing studies on gene expression profiles in the mammary glands of MMTV-c-neu mice to better understand and identify critical genes that are responsible for ErbB2-mediated transformation and growth of cancer cells/tumors.