Insulin-like Growth Factor-I Receptor (IGF-IR) translocates to nucleus and autoregulates IGF-IR gene expression in breast cancer cells

Rive Sarfstein, Metsada Pasmanik-Chor, Adva Yeheskel, Liat Edry, Noam Shomron, Naama Warman, Efrat Wertheimer, Sharon Maor, Lea Shochat, Haim Werner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system plays an important role in mammary gland biology as well as in the etiology of breast cancer. The IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR), which mediates the biological actions of IGF-I and IGF-II, has emerged in recent years as a promising therapeutic target. The IGF and estrogen signaling pathways act in a synergistic manner in breast epithelial cells. The present study was aimed at investigating 1) the putative translocation of IGF-IR and the related insulin receptor (IR) to the nucleus in breast cancer cells, 2) the impact of IGF-IR and IR levels on IGF-IR biosynthesis in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and ER-depleted breast cancer cells, and 3) the potential transcription factor role of IGF-IR in the specific context of IGF-IR gene regulation. We describe here a novel mechanism of autoregulation of IGF-IR gene expression by cellular IGF-IR, which is seemingly dependent on ER status. Regulation of the IGF-IR gene by IGF-IR protein is mediated at the level of transcription, as demonstrated by 1) binding assays (DNA affinity chromatography and ChIP) showing specific IGF-IR binding to IGF-IR promoter DNA and 2) transient transfection assays showing transactivation of the IGF-IR promoter by exogenous IGF-IR. The IR is also capable of translocating to the nucleus and binding the IGF-IR promoter in ER-depleted, but not in ER-positive, cells. However, transcription factors IGF-IR and IR display diametrically opposite activities in the context of IGF-IR gene regulation. Thus, whereas IGF-IR stimulated IGF-IR gene expression, IR inhibited IGF-IR promoter activity. In summary, we have identified a novel mechanism of IGF-IR gene autoregulation in breast cancer cells. The clinical implications of these findings and, in particular, the impact of IGF-IR/IR nuclear localization on targeted therapy require further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2766-2776
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2012


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