Targeting steroid hormone receptors for ubiquitination and degradation in breast and prostate cancer

A. Rodriguez-Gonzalez, K. Cyrus, M. Salcius, K. Kim, C. M. Crews, R. J. Deshaies, K. M. Sakamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


Proteolysis targeting chimeric molecules (Protacs) target proteins for destruction by exploiting the ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic system of eukaryotic cells. We designed two Protacs that contain the peptide 'degron' from hypoxia-inducible factor-1α, which binds to the Von -Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, linked to either dihydroxytestosterone that targets the androgen receptor (AR; Protac-A), or linked to estradiol (E2) that targets the estrogen receptor-α (ERα; Protac-B). We hypothesized that these Protacs would recruit hormone receptors to the VHL E3 ligase complex, resulting in the degradation of receptors, and decreased proliferation of hormone-dependent cell lines. Treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells with Protac-B induced the degradation of ERα in a proteasome-dependent manner. Protac-B inhibited the proliferation of ERα-dependent breast cancer cells by inducing G1 arrest, inhibition of retinoblastoma phosphorylation and decreasing expression of cyclin D1, progesterone receptors A and B. Protac-B treatment did not affect the proliferation of estrogen-independent breast cancer cells that lacked ERα expression. Similarly, Protac-A treatment of androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells induced G1 arrest but did not affect cells that do not express AR. Our results suggest that Protacs specifically inhibit the proliferation of hormone-dependent breast and prostate cancer cells through degradation of the ERα and AR, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7201-7211
Number of pages11
Issue number57
StatePublished - Dec 4 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Tammy Phung for her kind assistance in the flow cytometry performance in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for AIDS Research Flow Core Facility that is supported by the national Institutes of Health awards CA-16042 and AI-28697, by the Jonsson Cancer Center, the UCLA AIDS Institute and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. This work was supported by NIH R21 CA108545 (KMS), Department of Defense (USA) Prostate Cancer Research Program W81XWH-06-1-0192 (AR), Postdoctoral fellowship Ministerio de Educacion y Ciencia (Spain) MEC/Fulbright EX 2005-0517 (AR) and NIH R21 R21 CA118631 (CMC). RJD is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


  • Breast cancer
  • Degradation
  • Prostate cancer
  • Steroid hormone receptors
  • Ubiquitination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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