It is well-known that estrogens immensely contribute to the progression of human breast carcinoma, but their detailed molecular mechanisms remain largely unclear. In this study, we identified nucleobindin 2 (NUCB2) as a gene associated with recurrence based on microarray data of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast carcinoma cases (n=10), and subsequent in vitro study showed that NUCB2 expression was upregulated by estradiol in ER-positive MCF-7 cells. However, NUCB2 has not yet been examined in breast carcinoma, and its significance remains unknown. Therefore, we further examined the biological functions of NUCB2 in breast carcinoma using immunohistochemistry and in vitro studies. NUCB2 immunoreactivity was detected in carcinoma cells in 77 of 161 (48%) breast cancer cases, and positively associated with lymph node metastasis and ER status of the patients. In addition, NUCB2 status was significantly associated with an increased risk of recurrence and adverse clinical outcome of the patients using both univariate and multivariate analyses. Results of siRNA transfection experiments showed that NUCB2 significantly increased cell proliferation, and migration and invasion properties in both MCF-7 and ER-negative SK-BR-3 cells. These results suggest that NUCB2 is upregulated by estrogens and plays an important role, especially in the process of metastasis, in breast carcinomas. NUCB2 status is considered a potent prognostic factor in human breast cancer.
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