The aryl hydrocarbon receptor and estrogen receptor alpha differentially modulate nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 transactivation in MCF-7 breast cancer cells

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Abstract

Nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (NRF2; NFE2L2) plays an important role in mediating cellular protection against reactive oxygen species. NRF2 signaling is positively modulated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) but inhibited by estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). In this study we investigated the crosstalk among NRF2, AHR and ERα in MCF-7 breast cancer cells treated with the NRF2 activator sulforaphane (SFN), a dual AHR and ERα activator, 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM), 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) or 17β-estradiol (E2). SFN-dependent increases in NADPH-dependent oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) and heme oxygenase I (HMOX1) mRNA levels were significantly reduced after co-treatment with E2. E2-dependent repression of NQO1 and HMOX1 was associated with increased ERα but reduced p300 recruitment and reduced histone H3 acetylation at both genes. In contrast, DIM + SFN or TCDD + SFN induced NQO1 and HMOX1 mRNA expression to levels higher than SFN alone, which was prevented by RNAi-mediated knockdown of AHR. DIM + SFN but not TCDD + SFN also induced recruitment of ERα to NQO1 and HMOX1. However, the presence of AHR at NQO1 and HMOX1 restored p300 recruitment and histone H3 acetylation, thereby reversing the ERα-dependent repression of NRF2. Taken together, our study provides further evidence of functional interplay among NRF2, AHR and ERα signaling pathways through altered p300 recruitment to NRF2-regulated target genes.

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