Spandidos Publications, Oncology Letters
Estrogen receptors [ERs (subtypes α and β)], classified as a nuclear receptor super family, are intracellular proteins with an important biological role as the transcription factors for estrogen target genes. For ER-induced transcription, an interaction must exist between ligand and coregulators. Coregulators may stimulate (coactivators) or inhibit (corepressors) transcription, following binding with a specific region of the gene, called the estrogen response element. Misbalanced activity of coregulators or higher ligand concentrations may cause increased cell proliferation, resulting in specific types of cancer. These are exhibited as overexpression of ER proteins. Breast cancer currently ranks first in the incidence and second in the mortality of cancer in females worldwide. In addition, 70% of breast tumors are ERα positive and the importance of these proteins for diagnostic use is indisputable. Early diagnosis of the tumor and its classification has a large influence on the selection of appropriate therapy, as ER-positive tumors demonstrate a positive response to hormonal therapy. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI TOF MS) has been hypothesized to have great potential, as it offers reliable, robust and efficient analysis methods for biomarker monitoring and identification. The present review discusses ER protein analysis by MALDI TOF MS, including the crucial step of protein separation.