ESR1 and PGR polymorphisms are associated with estrogen and progesterone receptor expression in breast tumors

Daniel L. Hertz, N. Lynn Henry, Kelley M. Kidwell, Dafydd Thomas, Audrey Goddard, Faouzi Azzouz, Kelly Speth, Lang Li, Mousumi Banerjee, Jacklyn N. Thibert, Celina G. Kleer, Vered Stearns, Daniel F. Hayes, Todd C. Skaar, James M. Rae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancers express the estrogen (ERα) and/or progesterone (PgR) receptors. Inherited single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in ESR1, the gene encoding ERα, have been reported to predict tamoxifen effectiveness. We hypothesized that these associations could be attributed to altered tumor gene/protein expression of ESR1/ERα and that SNPs in the PGR gene predict tumor PGR/PgR expression. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded breast cancer tumor specimens were analyzed for ESR1 and PGR gene transcript expression by the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction based Oncotype DX assay and for ERα and PgR protein expression by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and an automated quantitative immunofluorescence assay (AQUA). Germline genotypes for SNPs in ESR1 (n = 41) and PGR (n = 8) were determined by allele-specific TaqMan assays. One SNP in ESR1 (rs9322336) was significantly associated with ESR1 gene transcript expression (P = 0.006) but not ERα protein expression (P > 0.05). A PGR SNP (rs518162) was associated with decreased PGR gene transcript expression (P = 0.003) and PgR protein expression measured by IHC (P = 0.016), but not AQUA (P = 0.054). There were modest, but statistically significant correlations between gene and protein expression for ESR1/ERα and PGR/PgR and for protein expression measured by IHC and AQUA (Pearson correlation = 0.32-0.64, all P < 0.001). Inherited ESR1 and PGR genotypes may affect tumor ESR1/ERα and PGR/ PgR expression, respectively, which are moderately correlated. This work supports further research into germline predictors of tumor characteristics and treatment effectiveness, which may someday inform selection of hormonal treatments for patients with HR+ breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-698
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016


  • AQUA
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Genotype
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Progesterone receptor
  • RT-PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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