The antiestrogen tamoxifen is a well-tolerated, effective treatment for estrogen receptor-α-positive (ER+) breast cancer, but development of resistance eventually limits its use. Here we show that expression of MAGEA2, and related members of this cancer-testis antigen family, is upregulated in tamoxifen-resistant tumor cells. Expression of MAGEA2 in tumor lines grown in vitro or as xenografts led to continued proliferation in the presence of tamoxifen. At the molecular level, we demonstrate that MAGEA2 protein localizes to the nucleus and forms complexes with p53 and ERα, resulting in repression of the p53 pathway but increased ER-dependent signaling. In a series of ER+, tamoxifen-treated breast cancer patients, we show a highly significant (P=0.006) association between MAGEA (melanoma-associated antigen) expression and reduced overall survival, confirming the clinical significance of our observations.
- Breast cancer
- Cancer therapeutic resistance
- Tumor immunology