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C Palmieri, G J Cheng, S Saji, M Zelada-Hedman, A Wärri, Z Weihua, S Van Noorden, T Wahlstrom, R C Coombes, M Warner, and J-A Gustafsson

Estrogen is essential for normal growth and differentiation in the mammary gland. It also supports growth of approximately 50% of primary breast cancers. For this reason, removal of estrogen or blocking of its action with the anti-estrogen, tamoxifen, is the main treatment for estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha)-positive tumors. In 1996, when oncologists became aware of a second ER, ERbeta, there was some doubt as to whether this receptor would be of importance in breast cancer because the clinical consensus was that responsiveness to tamoxifen is related to the presence of ERalpha in breast cancer. Today we know that ERalpha and ERbeta have distinct cellular distributions, regulate separate sets of genes and can oppose each other's actions on some genes. We also know that ERbeta is widely expressed in both the normal and malignant breast and that there are proliferating cells in the breast which express ERbeta. In this review we summarize what is known about ERbeta in breast cancer and examine the possibility that ERbeta-selective ligands may well represent a useful class of pharmacological tools with a novel target, namely proliferating cells expressing ERbeta.

Open access

Deborah J Thompson, Tracy A O'Mara, Dylan M Glubb, Jodie N Painter, Timothy Cheng, Elizabeth Folkerd, Deborah Doody, Joe Dennis, Penelope M Webb, for the Australian National Endometrial Cancer Study Group (ANECS), Maggie Gorman, Lynn Martin, Shirley Hodgson, for the National Study of Endometrial Cancer Genetics Group (NSECG), Kyriaki Michailidou, Jonathan P Tyrer, Mel J Maranian, Per Hall, Kamila Czene, Hatef Darabi, Jingmei Li, Peter A Fasching, Alexander Hein, Matthias W Beckmann, Arif B Ekici, Thilo Dörk, Peter Hillemanns, Matthias Dürst, Ingo Runnebaum, Hui Zhao, Jeroen Depreeuw, Stefanie Schrauwen, Frederic Amant, Ellen L Goode, Brooke L Fridley, Sean C Dowdy, Stacey J Winham, Helga B Salvesen, Jone Trovik, Tormund S Njolstad, Henrica M J Werner, Katie Ashton, Tony Proietto, Geoffrey Otton, Luis Carvajal-Carmona, Emma Tham, Tao Liu, Miriam Mints, for RENDOCAS, Rodney J Scott, Mark McEvoy, John Attia, Elizabeth G Holliday, Grant W Montgomery, Nicholas G Martin, Dale R Nyholt, Anjali K Henders, John L Hopper, Nadia Traficante, for the AOCS Group, Matthias Ruebner, Anthony J Swerdlow, Barbara Burwinkel, Hermann Brenner, Alfons Meindl, Hiltrud Brauch, Annika Lindblom, Diether Lambrechts, Jenny Chang-Claude, Fergus J Couch, Graham G Giles, Vessela N Kristensen, Angela Cox, Manjeet K Bolla, Qin Wang, Stig E Bojesen, Mitul Shah, Robert Luben, Kay-Tee Khaw, Paul D P Pharoah, Alison M Dunning, Ian Tomlinson, Mitch Dowsett, Douglas F Easton, and Amanda B Spurdle

Candidate gene studies have reported CYP19A1 variants to be associated with endometrial cancer and with estradiol (E2) concentrations. We analyzed 2937 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 6608 endometrial cancer cases and 37 925 controls and report the first genome wide-significant association between endometrial cancer and a CYP19A1 SNP (rs727479 in intron 2, P=4.8×10−11). SNP rs727479 was also among those most strongly associated with circulating E2 concentrations in 2767 post-menopausal controls (P=7.4×10−8). The observed endometrial cancer odds ratio per rs727479 A-allele (1.15, CI=1.11–1.21) is compatible with that predicted by the observed effect on E2 concentrations (1.09, CI=1.03–1.21), consistent with the hypothesis that endometrial cancer risk is driven by E2. From 28 candidate-causal SNPs, 12 co-located with three putative gene-regulatory elements and their risk alleles associated with higher CYP19A1 expression in bioinformatical analyses. For both phenotypes, the associations with rs727479 were stronger among women with a higher BMI (P interaction=0.034 and 0.066 respectively), suggesting a biologically plausible gene-environment interaction.

Free access

Tracy A O'Mara, Dylan M Glubb, Jodie N Painter, Timothy Cheng, Joe Dennis, The Australian National Endometrial Cancer Study Group (ANECS), John Attia, Elizabeth G Holliday, Mark McEvoy, Rodney J Scott, Katie Ashton, Tony Proietto, Geoffrey Otton, Mitul Shah, Shahana Ahmed, Catherine S Healey, Maggie Gorman, Lynn Martin, National Study of Endometrial Cancer Genetics Group (NSECG), Shirley Hodgson, Peter A Fasching, Alexander Hein, Matthias W Beckmann, Arif B Ekici, Per Hall, Kamila Czene, Hatef Darabi, Jingmei Li, Matthias Dürst, Ingo Runnebaum, Peter Hillemanns, Thilo Dörk, Diether Lambrechts, Jeroen Depreeuw, Daniela Annibali, Frederic Amant, Hui Zhao, Ellen L Goode, Sean C Dowdy, Brooke L Fridley, Stacey J Winham, Helga B Salvesen, Tormund S Njølstad, Jone Trovik, Henrica M J Werner, Emma Tham, Tao Liu, Miriam Mints, RENDOCAS, Manjeet K Bolla, Kyriaki Michailidou, Jonathan P Tyrer, Qin Wang, John L Hopper, AOCS Group, Julian Peto, Anthony J Swerdlow, Barbara Burwinkel, Hermann Brenner, Alfons Meindl, Hiltrud Brauch, Annika Lindblom, Jenny Chang-Claude, Fergus J Couch, Graham G Giles, Vessela N Kristensen, Angela Cox, Paul D P Pharoah, Alison M Dunning, Ian Tomlinson, Douglas F Easton, Deborah J Thompson, and Amanda B Spurdle

Excessive exposure to estrogen is a well-established risk factor for endometrial cancer (EC), particularly for cancers of endometrioid histology. The physiological function of estrogen is primarily mediated by estrogen receptor alpha, encoded by ESR1. Consequently, several studies have investigated whether variation at the ESR1 locus is associated with risk of EC, with conflicting results. We performed comprehensive fine-mapping analyses of 3633 genotyped and imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 6607 EC cases and 37 925 controls. There was evidence of an EC risk signal located at a potential alternative promoter of the ESR1 gene (lead SNP rs79575945, P=1.86×10−5), which was stronger for cancers of endometrioid subtype (P=3.76×10−6). Bioinformatic analysis suggests that this risk signal is in a functionally important region targeting ESR1, and eQTL analysis found that rs79575945 was associated with expression of SYNE1, a neighbouring gene. In summary, we have identified a single EC risk signal located at ESR1, at study-wide significance. Given SNPs located at this locus have been associated with risk for breast cancer, also a hormonally driven cancer, this study adds weight to the rationale for performing informed candidate fine-scale genetic studies across cancer types.