Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Cancer: An estrogen receptor for survival


In a recent study, Bin Yuan and his colleagues show that the presence of estrogen receptor β (ERβ) phosphorylated at Tyr36 could predict disease-free survival and overall survival in breast cancer and mediates the anti-tumor effects of ERβ (J. Clin. Invest. 124, 3378–3390).

Credit: Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source

The authors identified EYA2 and c-ABL as the respective phosphatase and kinase that regulate ERβ Y36 phosphorylation and, thus, control its downstream transcriptional activity. Wild-type ERβ significantly reduced the growth of human breast cancer cells and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer xenografts. A phosphomimetic mutant of ERβ could function similarly; however, a mutant that could not be phosphorylated was unable to control growth. Both EYA2 overexpression and c-ABL knockdown enhanced xenograft growth in the presence of wild-type ERβ, but they were unable to affect phosphomemetic mutant-mediated growth suppression.

In human breast cancer, increased phsopho-Y36 staining positively correlated with longer disease-free status and overall survival as well as negatively correlated with tumor size, nodal status, advanced disease stage and increased tumor grade. Staining was more prognostic in stage 2 and 3 breast cancer than in stage 1.

Both EYA2 and c-ABL have additional functions in tumors, but this study suggests that they could be targeted to enhance ERβ-mediated growth suppression and lead to new treatment regimens in the future.


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Simpson, K. Cancer: An estrogen receptor for survival. Nat Med 20, 991 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing