Interaction of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Ligand 6-Methyl-1,3,8-trichlorodibenzofuran with Estrogen Receptor α

Sandra Timm Pearce, Hong Liu, Ishwar Radhakrishnan, Maen Abdelrahim, Stephen Safe, V. Craig Jordan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon 6-methyl-1,3,8-trichlorodibenzofuran (MCDF) is related to the industrial byproduct dioxin and is a weak agonist and partial antagonist at the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Tamoxifen is used for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer and interferes with the interaction of estrogen with estrogen receptor α (ER). The combination of MCDF and tamoxifen lowered the effective dose of both drugs required to inhibit 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumor growth in rats and protected against the estrogenic effects of tamoxifen on the uterus in rats (A. McDougal et al., Cancer Res 2001;61:3902-7), pointing to the potential use of MCDF in breast cancer treatment. Potential AhR-ER cross-talk is evidenced by the antiestrogenic activity of MCDF and the degradative effect of MCDF on ER protein levels. Our studies confirmed that MCDF degraded the ER. MCDF displayed antiestrogenic activity at higher concentrations in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells, but MCDF alone (10-6 M) stimulated the growth of MCF-7 cells. MCDF also activated an estrogen response element (ERE)-luciferase reporter and increased mRNA levels of the estrogen-responsive gene transforming growth factor (TGF)-α. The estrogenic effects of MCDF are ER dependent because they were blocked by the pure antiestrogen ICI 182,780. MCDF induced ER-coactivator interaction in glutathione S-transferase pull-down assays and the formation of an ER·ERE complex in gel mobility shift assays, further indicating that the estrogenic actions of MCDF are mediated by the ER. In addition, knockdown of the AhR with small interfering RNA did not affect MCDF-induced ERE-luciferase activity. Overall, these data support the conclusion that MCDF is a partial agonist at the ER. This study provides the first evidence for the direct interaction of the ER with MCDF and challenges the view that MCDF is simply an AhR-specific ligand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2889-2897
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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