New Role Identified for Estrogen Receptor-Beta in Breast Cancer

Recent breast cancer research from the UH Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS) has garnered the attention of the online research community. The November 2012 publication, “ERβ1 represses basal-like breast cancer epithelial to mesenchymal transition by destabilizing EGFR,” has consistently ranked among the most viewed online articles for Breast Cancer Research, one of the most recognized breast cancer research journals.

“These findings provide further evidence that estrogen receptor-beta-1 has the potential to predict metastasis in breast cancer,” says research assistant professor Christoforos Thomas, who co-authored the article. “This could lead to improved survival rates in triple-negative cancers, which often can be more aggressive.”

Thomas and the team are dedicated to studying the role of the nuclear receptor estrogen receptor-beta1 (ERβ1) in breast cancer. By using ERβ1 to regulate epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process which alters the motility and invasiveness of cells, CNRCS researchers found that ERβ1 is capable of inhibiting EMT and the metastatic potential of basal-like breast cancer cells.

“Basal-like cancers are known to develop distant metastases associated with EMT,” says CNRCS director Dr. Jan-Åke Gustafsson. “We now have evidence that ERβ1 inhibits EMT thereby reducing the invasiveness of these cancer cells, strengthening the possibility that ERβ1 can help identify patients with basal-like cancer with lower risk to develop metastasis.”

In addition to currently ranking as the third-most viewed Breast Cancer Research article, the publication also was deemed “Highly accessed.” To view the abstract or download the provisional PDF, visit The research was supported by the Emerging Technology Fund of Texas, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the Welch Foundation and the Swedish Cancer Society.