Progesterone Receptors Abstracts 1


Progesterone receptor isoforms PRA and PRB differentially contribute to breast cancer cell migration through interaction with focal adhesion kinase complexes.
            (Bellance et al., 2013) Download
Progesterone receptor (PR) and progestins affect mammary tumorigenesis; however, the relative contributions of PR isoforms A and B (PRA and PRB, respectively) in cancer cell migration remains elusive. By using a bi-inducible MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line expressing PRA and/or PRB, we analyzed the effect of conditional PR isoform expression. Surprisingly, unliganded PRB but not PRA strongly enhanced cell migration as compared with PR(-) cells. 17,21-Dimethyl-19-norpregna-4,9-dien-3,20-dione (R5020) progestin limited this effect and was counteracted by the antagonist 11β-(4-dimethyl-amino)-phenyl-17β-hydroxy-17-(1-propynyl)-estra-4,9-dien-3-one (RU486). Of importance, PRA coexpression potentiated PRB-mediated migration, whereas PRA alone was ineffective. PR isoforms differentially regulated expressions of major players of cell migration, such as urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), its inhibitor plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1, uPA receptor (uPAR), and β1-integrin, which affect focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling. Moreover, unliganded PRB but not PRA enhanced FAK Tyr397 phosphorylation and colocalized with activated FAK in cell protrusions. Because PRB, as well as PRA, coimmunoprecipitated with FAK, both isoforms can interact with FAK complexes, depending on their respective nucleocytoplasmic trafficking. In addition, FAK degradation was coupled to R5020-dependent turnovers of PRA and PRB. Such an effect of PRB/PRA expression on FAK signaling might thus affect adhesion/motility, underscoring the implication of PR isoforms in breast cancer invasiveness and metastatic evolution with underlying therapeutic outcomes.

Reproductive functions of progesterone receptors.
            (Conneely et al., 2002) Download
The steroid hormone progesterone plays a central role in the reproductive events associated with pregnancy establishment and maintenance. Physiological effects of progesterone are mediated by interaction of the hormone with specific intracellular progesterone receptors (PRs) that are expressed as two protein isoforms, PR-A and PR-B. Both proteins arise from the same gene and are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily of transcription factors. Since these two isoforms were identified in the early 1970s, extensive controversy has existed regarding the selective contributions of the individual PR proteins to the physiological functions of progesterone. During the past decade, significant progress has been made in this regard using two complimentary approaches. First, analysis of the structural and functional relationships of each isoform using in vitro systems has generated compelling evidence to support the conclusion that PR-A and PR-B have different transcription activation properties when liganded to progesterone. Second, the advent of gene-targeting approaches to introduce subtle mutations into the mouse genome has facilitated the evaluation of the significance of observations made in vitro in a physiological context. Selective ablation of PR-A and PR-B proteins in mice using these technologies has allowed us to address the spatiotemporal expression and contribution of the individual PR isoforms to the pleiotropic reproductive activities of progesterone. Analysis of the phenotypic consequences of these mutations on female reproductive function has provided proof of concept that the distinct transcriptional responses to PR-A and PR-B observed in cell-based transactivation assays are, indeed, reflected in an ability of the individual isoforms to elicit distinct, physiological responses to progesterone. In PR-A knockout mice, in which the expression of the PR-A isoform is selectively ablated (PRAKO), the PR-B isoform functions in a tissue-specific manner to mediate a subset of the reproductive functions of PRs. Ablation of PR-A does not affect responses of the mammary gland or thymus to progesterone but instead results in severe abnormalities in ovarian and uterine function, leading to female infertility. These tissue-selective activities of PR-B are due to this isoform's ability to regulate a subset of progesterone-responsive target genes in reproductive tissues rather than to differences in its spatiotemporal expression relative to the PR-A isoform. More recent studies using PR-B knockout (PRBKO) mice have shown that ablation of PR-B does not affect ovarian, uterine, or thymic responses to progesterone but rather results in reduced mammary ductal morphogenesis. Thus, PR-A is both necessary and sufficient to elicit the progesterone-dependent reproductive responses necessary for female fertility, while PR-B is required to elicit normal proliferative responses of the mammary gland to progesterone. This chapter will summarize recent progress in our understanding of the selective contribution of the two PR isoforms to progesterone action.

Progesterone action in breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
            (Diep et al., 2015) Download
Progesterone and progesterone receptors (PRs) are essential for the development and cyclical regulation of hormone-responsive tissues including the breast and reproductive tract. Altered functions of PR isoforms contribute to the pathogenesis of tumors that arise in these tissues. In the breast, progesterone acts in concert with estrogen to promote proliferative and pro-survival gene programs. In sharp contrast, progesterone inhibits estrogen-driven growth in the uterus and protects the ovary from neoplastic transformation. Progesterone-dependent actions and associated biology in diverse tissues and tumors are mediated by two PR isoforms, PR-A and PR-B. These isoforms are subject to altered transcriptional activity or expression levels, differential crosstalk with growth factor signaling pathways, and distinct post-translational modifications and cofactor-binding partners. Herein, we summarize and discuss the recent literature focused on progesterone and PR isoform-specific actions in breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. Understanding the complexity of context-dependent PR actions in these tissues is critical to developing new models that will allow us to advance our knowledge base with the goal of revealing novel and efficacious therapeutic regimens for these hormone-responsive diseases.

Progestins reinitiate cell cycle progression in antiestrogen-arrested breast cancer cells through the B-isoform of progesterone receptor.
            (McGowan et al., 2007) Download
Estrogen treatment of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells allows the reinitiation of synchronous cell cycle progression in antiestrogen-arrested cells. Here, we report that progestins also reinitiate cell cycle progression in this model. Using clonal cell lines derived from progesterone receptor (PR)-negative MCF-7M13 cells expressing wild-type or mutant forms of PRA and PRB, we show that this effect is mediated via PRB, not PRA. Cell cycle progression did not occur with a DNA-binding domain mutant of PRB but was unaffected by mutation in the NH(2)-terminal, SH3 domain interaction motif, which mediates rapid progestin activation of c-Src. Thus, the progestin-induced proliferative response in antiestrogen-inhibited cells is mediated primarily by the transcriptional activity of PRB. Analysis of selected cell cycle targets showed that progestin treatment induced levels of cyclin D1 expression and retinoblastoma protein (Rb) phosphorylation similar to those induced by estradiol. In contrast, progestin treatment resulted in only a 1.2-fold induction of c-Myc compared with a 10-fold induction by estradiol. These results support the conclusion that progestin, in a PRB-dependent manner, can overcome the growth-inhibitory effects of antiestrogens in estrogen receptor/PR-positive breast cancer cells by the induction of cyclin D1 expression. The mediation of this effect by PRB, but not PRA, further suggests a mechanism whereby abnormal regulation of the normal expression ratios of PR isoforms in breast cancer could lead to the attenuation of antiestrogen-mediated growth arrest.

Progesterone receptor isoforms in normal and malignant breast.
            (Mote et al., 2007) Download
Progesterone is an essential regulator of normal female reproductive function, yet recent studies on the use of progestins in hormone replacement therapy have clearly implicated progestins in breast cancer development, a disease initiated early in life at a time of frequent exposure to cycling ovarian hormones. The effects of progesterone are mediated by two distinct nuclear receptor proteins, PRA and PRB. In normal breast PRA and PRB are co-expressed at similar levels in luminal epithelial cells, suggesting that both proteins are required to mediate physiologically relevant progesterone signalling. However, early in breast carcinogenesis PRA:PRB expression is disrupted, resulting in frequent predominance of one isoform. Unbalanced expression of PRA and PRB results in altered hormonal response and aberrant targeting of genes that are not normally progestin-regulated, principally those involved in morphological changes and disruptions of the actin cytoskeleton, and in migration. Movement of PR into discrete nuclear domains, or foci, is a critical step in normal PR transcriptional activity that appears to be aberrant in cancers and likely related to alterations in nuclear morphology, gene expression and cell function associated with tumour cells. Given that exogenous progestins are consumed by millions of women worldwide in the form of hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives, it is vital to better understand the mechanisms of progesterone action in the breast.

Reproductive tissue selective actions of progesterone receptors.
            (Mulac-Jericevic and Conneely, 2004) Download
The steroid hormone, progesterone, plays a central coordinate role in diverse events associated with female reproduction. In humans and other vertebrates, the biological activity of progesterone is mediated by modulation of the transcriptional activity of two progesterone receptors, PR-A and PR-B. These receptors arise from the same gene and exhibit both overlapping and distinct transcriptional activities in vitro. To delineate the individual roles of PR-A and PR-B in vivo, we have generated mouse models in which expression of a single PR isoform has been ablated. Analysis of the reproductive phenotypes of these mice has indicated that PR-A and PR-B mediate mostly distinct but partially overlapping reproductive responses to progesterone. While selective ablation of the PR-A protein (PR-A knockout mice, PRAKO mice) shows normal mammary gland response to progesterone but severe uterine hyperplasia and ovarian abnormalities, ablation of PR-B protein (PRBKO mice) does not affect biological responses of the ovary or uterus to progesterone but results in reduced pregnancy-associated mammary gland morphogenesis. The distinct tissue-specific reproductive responses to progesterone exhibited by these isoforms are due to regulation of distinct subsets of progesterone-dependent target genes by the individual PR isoforms. This review will summarize our current understanding of the selective contribution of PR isoforms to the cellular and molecular actions of progesterone in reproductive tissues.

Progesterone action in human tissues: regulation by progesterone receptor (PR) isoform expression, nuclear positioning and coregulator expression.
            (Scarpin et al., 2009) Download
Progesterone is a critical regulator of normal female reproductive function, with diverse tissue-specific effects in the human. The effects of progesterone are mediated by its nuclear receptor (PR) that is expressed as two isoforms, PRA and PRB, which are virtually identical except that PRA lacks 164 amino acids that are present at the N-terminus of PRB. Considerable in vitro evidence suggests that the two PRs are functionally distinct and in animals, tissue-specific distribution patterns of PRA and PRB may account for some of the diversity of progesterone effects. In the human, PRA and PRB are equivalently expressed in most target cells, suggesting that alternative mechanisms control the diversity of progesterone actions. PR mediates the effects of progesterone by association with a range of coregulatory proteins and binding to specific target sequences in progesterone-regulated gene promoters. Ligand activation of PR results in redistribution into discrete subnuclear foci that are detectable by immunofluorescence, probably representing aggregates of multiple transcriptionally active PR-coregulator complexes. PR foci are aberrant in cancers, suggesting that the coregulator composition and number of complexes is altered. A large family of coregulators is now described and the range of proteins known to bind PR exceeds the complement required for transcriptional activation, suggesting that in the human, tissue-specific coregulator expression may modulate progesterone response. In this review, we examine the role of nuclear localization of PR, coregulator association and tissue-specific expression in modulating progesterone action in the human.

Progesterone acts via progesterone receptors A and B to regulate breast cancer resistance protein expression.
            (Vore and Leggas, 2008) Download
The breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP; ABCG2) is an ATP-dependent efflux multidrug transporter that belongs to the G family of half-transporters that consist of six transmembrane-spanning domains and must homodimerize to form the active membrane transporter. It is expressed in the apical plasma membrane domain of the small intestine, endothelium, and liver, where it has been shown to play an important role in limiting drug absorption and distribution and in enhancing drug clearance, respectively. BCRP is also expressed in the apical membrane of mammary alveolar epithelia, where it mediates efflux of substrates into milk, and in the placental syncytiotro-phoblasts, where it reduces fetal exposure to these substrates. BCRP substrates include numerous drugs (topotecan, nitrofurantoin, cimetidine) as well as food carcinogens (2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine) and the vitamins riboflavin and folic acid. BCRP expression is regulated by a number of nuclear transcription factors, including the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma and Hif-1. This issue of Molecular Pharmacology includes a study (p. 845) now conclusively demonstrating that progesterone acts via the progesterone A and B receptors to regulate BCRP expression in a placental cell line.


Progesterone receptor (PR) isoforms PRA and PRB differentially regulate expression of the breast cancer resistance protein in human placental choriocarcinoma BeWo cells.
            (Wang et al., 2008) Download
Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) plays a significant role in drug disposition and in conferring multidrug resistance in cancer cells. Previous studies have shown that steroid hormones such as 17beta-estradiol and progesterone can affect BCRP expression in cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanism by which BCRP expression in human placental choriocarcinoma BeWo cells is regulated by progesterone. Transfection of the progesterone receptor (PR) isoforms PRA and PRB resulted in a similarly increased expression of PRA and PRB, respectively. However, progesterone significantly increased BCRP expression and activity only in PRB-transfected cells. This stimulatory effect of progesterone was abrogated by the PR antagonist mifepristone (RU-486). Consistently, transcriptional activity of the BCRP promoter was induced 2- to 6-fold by 10(-8) to 10(-5) M progesterone in PRB-transfected cells. Progesterone had little effect on BCRP expression and activity and transcriptional activity of the BCRP promoter in PRA-transfected cells; however, cotransfection of PRA and PRB significantly decreased the progesterone-response compared with that in cells transfected with only PRB. Mutations in a novel progesterone response element (PRE) identified between -243 to -115 bp of the BCRP promoter region significantly attenuated the progesterone-response in PRB-transfected cells, and deletion of the PRE nearly completely abrogated the progesterone effect. Specific binding of both PRA and PRB to the BCRP promoter through the identified PRE was confirmed using the electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Collectively, progesterone induces BCRP expression in BeWo cells via PRB but not PRA. PRA represses the PRB activity. Thus, PRA and PRB differentially regulate BCRP expression in BeWo cells.




Bellance, C, et al. (2013), ‘Progesterone receptor isoforms PRA and PRB differentially contribute to breast cancer cell migration through interaction with focal adhesion kinase complexes.’, Mol Biol Cell, 24 (9), 1363-74. PubMed: 23485561
Conneely, OM, et al. (2002), ‘Reproductive functions of progesterone receptors.’, Recent Prog Horm Res, 57 339-55. PubMed: 12017551
Diep, CH, et al. (2015), ‘Progesterone action in breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.’, J Mol Endocrinol, 54 (2), R31-53. PubMed: 25587053
McGowan, EM, et al. (2007), ‘Progestins reinitiate cell cycle progression in antiestrogen-arrested breast cancer cells through the B-isoform of progesterone receptor.’, Cancer Res, 67 (18), 8942-51. PubMed: 17875737
Mote, PA, JD Graham, and CL Clarke (2007), ‘Progesterone receptor isoforms in normal and malignant breast.’, Ernst Schering Found Symp Proc, (1), 77-107. PubMed: 18540569
Mulac-Jericevic, B and OM Conneely (2004), ‘Reproductive tissue selective actions of progesterone receptors.’, Reproduction, 128 (2), 139-46. PubMed: 15280552
Scarpin, KM, et al. (2009), ‘Progesterone action in human tissues: regulation by progesterone receptor (PR) isoform expression, nuclear positioning and coregulator expression.’, Nucl Recept Signal, 7 e009. PubMed: 20087430
Vore, M and M Leggas (2008), ‘Progesterone acts via progesterone receptors A and B to regulate breast cancer resistance protein expression.’, Mol Pharmacol, 73 (3), 613-15. PubMed: 18086804
Wang, H, et al. (2008), ‘Progesterone receptor (PR) isoforms PRA and PRB differentially regulate expression of the breast cancer resistance protein in human placental choriocarcinoma BeWo cells.’, Mol Pharmacol, 73 (3), 845-54. PubMed: 18042733