How breast cancer cells respond to the stress of endocrine therapies determines whether they will acquire a resistant phenotype or execute a cell-death pathway. After a survival signal is successfully executed, a cell must decide whether it should replicate. How these cell-fate decisions are regulated is unclear, but evidence suggests that the signals that determine these outcomes are highly integrated. Central to the final cell-fate decision is signaling from the unfolded protein response, which can be activated following the sensing of stress within the endoplasmic reticulum. The duration of the response to stress is partly mediated by the duration of inositol-requiring enzyme-1 activation following its release from heat shock protein A5. The resulting signals appear to use several B-cell lymphoma-2 family members to both suppress apoptosis and activate autophagy. Changes in metabolism induced by cellular stress are key components of this regulatory system, and further adaptation of the metabolome is affected in response to stress. Here we describe the unfolded protein response, autophagy, and apoptosis, and how the regulation of these processes is integrated. Central topologic features of the signaling network that integrate cell-fate regulation and decision execution are discussed. Cancer Res; 72(6); 1321–31. ©2012 AACR.
- Received October 5, 2011.
- Revision received November 10, 2011.
- Accepted November 12, 2011.
- ©2012 American Association for Cancer Research.