Expression of transforming growth factor-β receptor type II and tumorigenicity in human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells

Yong Ko, Sunandita S. Banerji, Yu Liu, Wenhui Li, Jiurong Liang, Herbert D. Soule, Robert J. Pauley, James K.V. Willson, Elizabeth Zborowska, Michael G. Brattain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


To analyze transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) response during MCF-7 cell progression, early passage (MCF-7E, <200 passage) and late passage (MCF- 7L, > 500 passage) cells were compared. MCF-7E cells showed an IC50 of ~ 10 ng/ml of TGF-β1, whereas MCF-7L cells were insensitive, MCF-7E cells contained approximately threefold higher levels of TGF-β receptor type II (TβRII) mRNA than MCF-7L, but their TβRI levels were similar, MCF-7E parental cells showed higher TβRI promoter activity than MCF-7L cells, which could be attributed to changes in Sp1 nuclear protein levels. Receptor cross- linking studies indicated that the cell surface receptor levels parallel mRNA levels in both cell lines. Limiting dilution clones MCF-7E cells were established to determine the heterogenecity of TβRII expression in this cell line, and they showed varying degrees of TβRII expression. Fibronectin was induced at higher levels in cells expressing higher TβRII levels. All three TGF-β isoforms were detected in limiting dilution clones and parental cells, but TGF-β1 was more abundant relative to TGF-β2 or 3, and no correlation between TGF-β isoform profile with TGF-β sensitivity was found. MCF-7l cells were tumorigenic and formed xenografts rapidly and progressively, whereas MCF-7E parental and limiting dilution clonal cells showed transient tumor formation followed by regression. These results indicate that decrease TβRII transcription in breast cancer cells leads to loss of TβRII expression resulting in cellular resistance to TGF-β which contributes to escape from negative growth regulation and tumor progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-434
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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