[Illinois] Cancer Community Symposium 2012: Elevated Estrogen Signaling Drives Tumorigenesis in a Novel Animal Model for Ovarian Epithelial Cancer

By Mary Jo Laws

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We generated a mouse model where aberrant estrogen receptor alpha (Esr1) signaling in the hypothalamo-pituitary-ovarian axis leads to ovarian tumorigenesis. In this model, termed Esr1d/d, the Esr1 gene is selectively deleted in the anterior pituitary. The Esr1d/d mice form palpable ovarian tumors which display expression of ovarian epithelial tumor markers, cytokeratin 8, WT1 and PAX 8. Besides proliferating epithelial cells, tumors also contain an expanded population of stromal cells. The loss of negative-feedback regulation by estrogen at the level of pituitary led to elevated production of luteinizing hormone, which stimulated ovarian cells to enhance steroidogenesis. Interestingly, stromal cells of the tumor display a high level of P450 aromatase expression, suggesting that these cells acquired the ability to synthesize estrogen. In response to estrogen produced by the stromal cells, the Esr1 signaling is accentuated in the ovarian epithelial cells, triggering abnormal cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. Consistent with this hypothesis, treatment with letrozole, an inhibitor of P450 aromatase, led to a marked reduction in tumor volume when compared to controls. We have, therefore, developed an animal model of ovarian epithelial tumorigenesis, which will serve as a powerful tool for exploring the involvement of estrogen-dependent signaling pathways in the etiology of this cancer.

Cancer Community At Illinois Symposium 2012

April 5-6, 2012: Connecting patient care, research, and scientific advancement

Symposium Premise
This on-campus research symposium aims to bring together members of campus and the surrounding community to foster interdisciplinary discussions on cancer research and its affects on patient care. In order to increase understanding and awareness, we will discuss in an open forum with research talks, poster presentations, and panel discussions. We invite community members, clinicians, and researchers from UIUC and other Midwest regional institutions from departments ranging from the social sciences to basic sciences to engineering and medicine.
The symposium features invited talks from nationally-recognized cancer researchers, oral presentations from UIUC faculty and students, and poster sessions. We encourage student researchers from UIUC and from other regional schools to apply (travel awards are available).

About CC@I Symposium
The Cancer Community at Illinois (CC@I) Symposium is organized by a group of students on the University of Illinois campus to bridge the areas of social science, basic sciences to engineering and medicine as they relate to cancer. The symposium mission is to: 1) Facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and understanding that transcends established departmental affiliation; 2) Foster an increased understanding of the social and environmental factors affecting patients; and 3) Develop unique vantage points afforded by interactive dialogue between and among the various cancer research disciplines. In order to accomplish this, the symposium will engage the local patient community through use of the nascent social and support efforts of the Mills Breast Cancer Institute, Carle Hospital, and regional clinical collaborators.
If you are interested in other CC@I events or the program in general, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Mary Jo Laws Comparative Biosciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL


Mary J. Laws (Speaker), Athilakshmi Kannan, Sandeep Pawar, Milan K. Bagchi, and Indrani C. Bagchi

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Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Mary Jo Laws (2012), " [Illinois] Cancer Community Symposium 2012: Elevated Estrogen Signaling Drives Tumorigenesis in a Novel Animal Model for Ovarian Epithelial Cancer," http://nanohub.org/resources/13938.

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Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL