Sensitization of BCL-2-expressing breast tumors to chemotherapy by the BH3 mimetic ABT-737.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 07/2011; 109(8):2766-71. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1104778108
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Overexpression of the prosurvival protein BCL-2 is common in breast cancer. Here we have explored its role as a potential therapeutic target in this disease. BCL-2, its anti-apoptotic relatives MCL-1 and BCL-XL, and the proapoptotic BH3-only ligand BIM were found to be coexpressed at relatively high levels in a substantial proportion of heterogeneous breast tumors, including clinically aggressive basal-like cancers. To determine whether the BH3 mimetic ABT-737 that neutralizes BCL-2, BCL-XL, and BCL-W had potential efficacy in targeting BCL-2-expressing basal-like triple-negative tumors, we generated a panel of primary breast tumor xenografts in immunocompromised mice and treated recipients with either ABT-737, docetaxel, or a combination. Tumor response and overall survival were significantly improved by combination therapy, but only for tumor xenografts that expressed elevated levels of BCL-2. Treatment with ABT-737 alone was ineffective, suggesting that ABT-737 sensitizes the tumor cells to docetaxel. Combination therapy was accompanied by a marked increase in apoptosis and dissociation of BIM from BCL-2. Notably, BH3 mimetics also appeared effective in BCL-2-expressing xenograft lines that harbored p53 mutations. Our findings provide in vivo evidence that BH3 mimetics can be used to sensitize primary breast tumors to chemotherapy and further suggest that elevated BCL-2 expression constitutes a predictive response marker in breast cancer.

1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Cell death on extended mitotic arrest is considered arguably most critical for the efficacy of microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) in anticancer therapy. While the molecular machinery controlling mitotic arrest on MTA treatment, the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), appears well defined, the molecular components executing cell death, as well as factors connecting both networks remain poorly understood. Here we conduct a mini screen exploring systematically the contribution of individual BCL2 family proteins at single cell resolution to death on extended mitotic arrest, and demonstrate that the mitotic phosphorylation of BCL2 and BCLX represent a priming event for apoptosis that is ultimately triggered by NOXA-dependent MCL1 degradation, enabling BIM-dependent cell death. Our findings provide a comprehensive model for the initiation of apoptosis in cells stalled in mitosis and provide a molecular basis for the increased efficacy of combinatorial treatment of cancer cells using MTAs and BH3 mimetics.
    Nature Communications 04/2015; 6:6891. DOI:10.1038/ncomms7891 · 10.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Apoptosis, cell death executed by caspases, is essential to normal breast development and homeostasis. Pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic signals are tightly regulated in normal breast epithelial cells. Dysregulation of this balance is required for breast tumorigenesis and increases acquired resistance to treatments, including molecularly targeted therapies, radiation and chemotherapies. The pro-apoptotic or anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members interact with each other to maintain mitochondrial integrity and regulate cellular commitment to apoptosis. Among the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members, Mcl-1 is uniquely regulated by numerous oncogenic signaling pathways. This review will focus on the role of Bcl-2 family proteins in normal breast development, breast tumorigenesis and acquired resistance to breast cancer treatment strategies, while highlighting Mcl-1 as a promising target to improve breast cancer tumor cell killing.
    Oncotarget 02/2015; 6(6):3519-30. · 6.63 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite advances in the treatment of patients with early and metastatic breast cancer, mortality remains high due to intrinsic or acquired resistance to therapy. Increased understanding of the genomic landscape through massively parallel sequencing has revealed somatic mutations common to specific subtypes of breast cancer, provided new prognostic and predictive markers, and highlighted potential therapeutic targets. Evaluating new targets using established cell lines is limited by the inexact correlation between responsiveness observed in cell lines versus that elicited in the patient. Patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) generated from fresh tumor specimens recapitulate the diversity of breast cancer and reflect histopathology, tumor behavior, and the metastatic properties of the original tumor. The high degree of genomic preservation evident across primary tumors and their matching PDXs over serial passaging validate them as important preclinical tools. Indeed, there is accumulating evidence that PDXs can recapitulate treatment responses of the parental tumor. The finding that tumor engraftment is an independent and poor prognostic indicator of patient outcome represents the first step towards personalized medicine. Here we review the utility of breast cancer PDX models to study the clonal evolution of tumors and to evaluate novel therapies and drug resistance.
    Breast Cancer Research 12/2015; 17(1). DOI:10.1186/s13058-015-0523-1 · 5.33 Impact Factor