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International Journal of Breast Cancer
Volume 2011, Article ID 923250, 9 pages
Review Article

The Role of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor and Crosstalk with Estrogen Receptor in Response of Breast Cancer Cells to the Novel Antitumor Agents Benzothiazoles and Aminoflavone

Research Area, Institute of Oncology “Ángel H. Roffo”, University of Buenos Aires, Avenue San Martín 5481, C1417DTB Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Received 30 April 2011; Accepted 14 June 2011

Academic Editor: Alejandro J. Urtreger

Copyright © 2011 Mariana A. Callero and Andrea I. Loaiza-Pérez. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Many estrogen-receptor- (ER-) expressing breast cancers become refractory to ER-based therapies. New antitumor drugs like aminoflavone (AF) and benzothiazoles (Bzs) have been developed and have exquisite antitumor activity in ER+MCF-7 and T47D cells and in a MCF-7 nude mouse model. ER(−) breast cancer cells like MDA-MB-231 are less susceptible. We previously found in MCF-7 cells that these drugs activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) via translocation to the nucleus, induction of AhR-specific DNA binding activity, and expression of CYP1A1, whose transcription is controlled by the AhR-ARNT transcription factor. CYP1A1 metabolizes AF and Bz to a species which directly or after further metabolism damages DNA. In contrast an AhR-deficient variant of MCF-7 or cells with predominantly nuclear AhR expression, such as MDA-MB 231, are resistant. Thus, these drugs, unlike other neoplastic agents, require AhR-mediated signaling to cause DNA damage. This is a new treatment strategy for breast cancers with intact AhR signaling.