Chromatin structure of the regulatory regions of pS2 and cathepsin D genes in hormone-dependent and -independent breast cancer cell lines

Claire Giamarchi, Monserrat Solanas, Catherine Chailleux, Patrick Augereau, Francoise Vignon, Henri Rochefort, Hélène Richard-Foy

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50 Citations (Scopus)


We have compared the DNase I hypersensitivity of the regulatory region of two estrogen-regulated genes, pS2 and cathepsin D in hormone-dependent and -independent breast carcinoma cell lines. This strategy allowed the identification of two important control regions, one in pS2 and the other in cathepsin D genes. In the hormone dependent MCF7 cell line, within the pS2 gene 5'-flanking region, we detected two major DNase I hypersensitive sites, induced by estrogens and/or IGFI: pS2-HS1, located in the proximal promoter and pS2-HS4, located -10.5 Kb from the CAP site, within a region that has not been cloned. The presence of these two DNase I hypersensitive sites correlates with pS2 expression. Interestingly in MCF7 cells, estrogens and IGFI induced indistinguishable chromatin structural changes over the pS2 regulatory region, suggesting that the two transduction-pathways converge to a unique chromatin target. In two cell lines that do not express pS2, MDA MB 231, a hormone-independent cell line that lacks the estrogen receptor α, and HE5, a cell line derived from MDA MB 231 by transfection that expresses estrogen receptor α, there was only one hormone-independent DNase I hypersensitive site. This site, pS2-HS2, was located immediately upstream of pS2-HS1. In MCF7 cells, two major DNase I hypersensitive sites were present in the 5'-flanking sequences of the cathepsin D gene, which is regulated by estrogens in these cells. These sites, catD-HS2 and catD-HS3, located at positions -2.3 Kb and -3.45 Kb, respectively, were both hormone-independent. A much weaker site, catD-HS1, covered the proximal promoter. In MDA MB 231 cells, that express cathepsin D constitutively, we detected an additional strong hormone-independent DNase I hypersensitive site, catD-HS4, located at position -4.3 Kb. This region might control the constitutive over-expression of cathepsin D in hormone-independent breast cancer cells. All together, these data demonstrate that a local reorganization of the chromatin structure over pS2 and cathepsin D promoters accompanies the establishment of the hormone-independent phenotype of the cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-541
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 1999


  • Breast cancer
  • Chromatin
  • Estrogens
  • IGFI
  • pS2 cathepsin D

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