PURPOSE:A c-Src inhibitor blocks oestrogen (E2)-induced stress and converts E2 responses from inducing apoptosis to growth stimulation in E2-deprived breast cancer cells. A reprogrammed cell line, MCF-7:PF, results in a functional oestrogen receptor (ER). We addressed the question of whether the selective ER modulator 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT) could target ER to prevent E2-stimulated growth in MCF-7:PF cells. METHODS: Expression of mRNA was measured through real-time RT-PCR. Global gene expression profile was analysed through microarray. Transcriptome profiles were screened by RNA-sequencing. RESULTS: Unexpectedly, both 4-OHT and E2 stimulated cell growth in a concentration-dependent manner. Expression profiling showed a remarkable overlap in genes regulated in the same direction by E2 and 4-OHT. Pathway enrichment analysis of the 280 genes commonly deregulated in MCF-7:PF cells by 4-OHT and E2 revealed functions mainly related to membrane, cytoplasm and metabolic processes. Further analysis of 98 genes up-regulated by both 4-OHT and E2 uncovered a significant enrichment in genes associated with membrane remodelling, cytoskeleton reorganisation, cytoplasmic adapter proteins, cytoplasm organelle proteins and related processes. 4-OHT was more potent than E2 in up-regulating some membrane remodelling molecules, such as EHD2, FHL2, HOMER3 and RHOF. In contrast, 4-OHT acted as an antagonist to inhibit expression of the majority of enriched membrane-associated genes in wild-type MCF-7 cells. CONCLUSIONS: Long-term selection pressure has changed the cell population responses to 4-OHT. Membrane-associated signalling is critical for 4-OHT-stimulated cell growth in MCF-7:PF cells. This study provides a rationale for the further investigation of target therapy for tamoxifen resistant patients.