Elevated expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 3 in breast tumors: A mechanism of tamoxifen resistance

Yukun Cui, Irma Parra, Mao Zhang, Susan G. Hilsenbeck, Anna Tsimelzon, Toru Furukawa, Akira Horii, Zhong Yin Zhang, Robert I. Nicholson, Suzanne A.W. Fuqua

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87 Citations (Scopus)


Antiestrogen resistance is a major clinical problem in the treatment of breast cancer. Altered growth factor signaling with estrogen receptor (ER)-α is associated with the development of resistance. Gene expression profiling was used to identify mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphatase 3 (MKP3) whose expression was correlated with response to the antiestrogen tamoxifen in both patients and in vitro - derived cell line models. Overexpression of MKP3 rendered ER-α-positive breast cancer cells resistant to the growth-inhibitory effects of tamoxifen and enhanced tamoxifen agonist activity in endometrial cells. MKP3 overexpression was associated with lower levels of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation in the presence of estrogen but that estrogen deprivation and tamoxifen treatment decreased MKP3 phosphatase activity, leading to an up regulation of pERK1/2 MAPK, phosphorylated Ser118-ER-α, and cyclin D1. The MAPK/ERK kinase inhibitor PD98059 blocked tamoxifen-resistant growth. Accumulation of reactive oxygen species was observed with tamoxifen treatment of MKP3-overexpressing cells, and antioxidant treatment increased MKP3 phosphatase activity, thereby blocking resistance. Furthermore, PD98059 increased the levels of phosphorylated c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) in tamoxifen-treated MKP3-overexpressing cells, suggesting an interaction between MKP3 levels, activation of ERK1/2 MAPK, and JNK signaling in human breast cancer cells. MKP3 represents a novel mechanism of resistance, which may be a potential biomarker for the use of ERK1/2 and/or JNK inhibitors in combination with tamoxifen treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5950-5959
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jun 1


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