Extra-nuclear signalling of estrogen receptor to breast cancer cytoskeletal remodelling, migration and invasion

Maria Silvia Giretti, Xiao Dong Fu, Giovanni De Rosa, Ivana Sarotto, Chiara Baldacci, Silvia Garibaldi, Paolo Mannella, Nicoletta Biglia, Piero Sismondi, Andrea Riccardo Genazzani, Tommaso Simoncini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Estrogen is an established enhancer of breast cancer development, but less is known on its effects on local progression or metastasis. We studied the effects of estrogen receptor recruitment on actin cytoskeleton remodeling and breast cancer cell movement and invasion. Moreover, we characterized the signaling steps through which these actions are enacted. Methodology/Principal Findings: In estrogen receptor (ER) positive T47-D breast cancer cells ER activation with 17β-estradiol induces rapid and dynamic actin cytoskeleton remodeling with the formation of specialized cell membrane structures like ruffles and pseudopodia. These effects depend on the rapid recruitment of the actin-binding protein moesin. Moesin activation by estradiol depends on the interaction of ERα with the G protein Gα13, which results in the recruitment of the small GTPase RhoA and in the subsequent activation of its downstream effector Rho-associated kinase-2 (ROCK-2). ROCK-2 is responsible for moesin phosphorylation. The Gα13/RhoA/ ROCK/moesin cascade is necessary for the cytoskeleton remodeling and for the enhacement of breast cancer cell horizontal migration and invasion the three-dimensional matrices induced by estrogen. In addition, human samples of normal breast tissue, fibroadenomas and invasive ductal carcinomas show that the ecpression of wild-type moesin as well as of its active form is deranged in cancers, with increased protein amounts and a loss of association with the cell membrane. Conclusion/Significance: These results provide an original mechanism through which estrogen can facilitate breast cancer local and distant progression, identifying the extra-nuclear Gα13/RhoA/ ROCK/moesin signaling cascade as a target of ERα in breats cancer cells. This information helps to understand the effects of estrogen on breast cancer metastasis and may provide new targets for therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2238
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 21 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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