Nuclear translocation of epidermal growth factor receptor by Akt-dependent phosphorylation enhances breast cancer-resistant protein expression in gefitinib-resistant cells.

Center for Molecular Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung 404, Taiwan.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (Impact Factor: 4.6). 06/2011; 286(23):20558-68. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.240796
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), an aberrantly overexpressed or activated receptor-tyrosine kinase in many cancers, plays a pivotal role in cancer progression and has been an attractive target for cancer therapy. Gefitinib and erlotinib, two EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors, have been approved for non-small cell lung cancer. However, durable clinical efficacy of these EGFR inhibitors is severely limited by the emergence of acquired resistance. For example, the expression of breast cancer-resistant protein (BCRP/ABCG2) has been shown to confer acquired resistance of wild-type EGFR (wtEGFR)-expressing cancer cells to gefitinib. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms still remain unclear. Here, we show that wtEGFR expression is elevated in the nucleus of acquired gefitinib-resistant cancer cells. Moreover, nuclear translocation of EGFR requires phosphorylation at Ser-229 by Akt. In the nucleus, EGFR then targets the proximal promoter of BCRP/ABCG2 and thereby enhances its gene transcription. The nuclear EGFR-mediated BCRP/ABCG2 expression may contribute at least in part to the acquired resistance of wtEGFR-expressing cancer cells to gefitinib. Our findings shed light on the role of nuclear EGFR in the sensitivity of wtEGFR-expressing cancer cells to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors and also deciphered a putative molecular mechanism contributing to gefitinib resistance through BCRP/ABCG2 expression.

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