Estrogen-related receptor alpha induces the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in breast cancer cells

Rebecca A. Stein, Stéphanie Gaillard, Donald P. McDonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Estrogen-related receptor alpha (ERRα) is an orphan member of the nuclear receptor family of transcription factors. In addition to its function as a metabolic regulator, ERRα has been implicated in the growth and progression of several malignancies. In the setting of breast cancer, not only is ERRα a putative negative prognostic factor, but we have recently found that knock-down of its expression retards tumor growth in a xenograft model of this disease. The specific aspects of ERRα function that are responsible for its actions in breast cancer, however, remain unclear. Using the coactivator PGC-1α as a protein ligand to regulate ERRα activity, we analyzed the effects of this receptor on gene expression in the ERα-positive MCF-7 cell line. This analysis led to the identification of a large number of potential ERRα target genes, many of which were subsequently validated in other breast cancer cell lines. Importantly, we demonstrate in this study that activation of ERRα in several different breast cancer cell lines leads to a significant increase in VEGF mRNA expression, an activity that translates into an increase in VEGF protein secretion. The induction of VEGF results from the interaction of ERRα with specific ERR-responsive elements within the VEGF promoter. These findings suggest that ERRα-dependent induction of VEGF may contribute to the overall negative phenotype observed in tumors in which ERRα is expressed and provide validation for its use as a therapeutic target in cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-112
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Breast cancer
  • Estrogen-related receptor
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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