[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tamoxifen has been a frontline treatment for estrogen receptor alpha (ERα)-positive breast tumors in premenopausal women. However, resistance to tamoxifen occurs in many patients. ER still plays a critical role in the growth of breast cancer cells with acquired tamoxifen resistance, suggesting that ERα remains a valid target for treatment of tamoxifen-resistant (Tam-R) breast cancer. In an effort to identify novel regulators of ERα signaling, through a small-scale siRNA screen against histone methyl modifiers, we found WHSC1, a histone H3K36 methyltransferase, as a positive regulator of ERα signaling in breast cancer cells. We demonstrated that WHSC1 is recruited to the ERα gene by the BET protein BRD3/4, and facilitates ERα gene expression. The small-molecule BET protein inhibitor JQ1 potently suppressed the classic ERα signaling pathway and the growth of Tam-R breast cancer cells in culture. Using a Tam-R breast cancer xenograft mouse model, we demonstrated in vivo anti-breast cancer activity by JQ1 and a strong long-lasting effect of combination therapy with JQ1 and the ER degrader fulvestrant. Taken together, we provide evidence that the epigenomic proteins BRD3/4 and WHSC1 are essential regulators of estrogen receptor signaling and are novel therapeutic targets for treatment of Tam-R breast cancer.Cell Research advance online publication 30 May 2014; doi:10.1038/cr.2014.71.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modest up-regulation of either HER-ligands or receptors has been implicated in acquired endocrine resistance. AZD8931, a dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) of epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR)/HER2, has been shown to more effectively block ligand-dependent HER signaling than the HER TKIs lapatinib or gefitinib. We therefore examined the effect of AZD8931 in ER-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer cells with acquired resistance to tamoxifen, where there is ligand up-regulation associated with HER pathway activation. RNA-seq ligand profiling and levels of HER receptors and signaling by western blotting were conducted in ER+ MCF7 and T47D parental cells and their Tam-resistant derivatives (TamRes). In vitro cell growth and apoptosis and HER ligand-stimulated signaling were measured in response to endocrine and HER TKIs. For studies in vivo, transplantable MCF7/TamRes xenografts were treated with tamoxifen or fulvestrant, either alone or in combination with AZD8931. AZD8931 only minimally enhanced endocrine sensitivity in MCF7 parental cells, but showed a greater effect in the T47D parental model. AZD8931 combined with either tamoxifen or fulvestrant inhibited cell growth more than lapatinib in T47D TamRes cells, and was also significantly, though modestly, more potent in MCF7 TamRes cells. In both TamRes models, AZD8931 significantly inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. Under ligand-stimulated conditions, AZD8931 more potently inhibited HER signaling than lapatinib or gefitinib. AZD8931 also significantly delayed the growth of MCF7 TamRes xenografts in the presence of tamoxifen or fulvestrant. The strongest inhibition was achieved with a fulvestrant and AZD8931 combination, though no tumor regression was observed. This study provides evidence that AZD8931 has greater inhibitory efficacy in tamoxifen-resistant settings than in an endocrine therapy naïve setting. The absence of tumor regression, however, suggests that additional escape pathways contribute to resistant growth and will need to be targeted to fully circumvent tamoxifen resistance.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 02/2014; · 4.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene amplifications in the 17q chromosomal region are observed frequently in breast cancers. An integrative bioinformatics analysis of this region nominated the MAP3K3 gene as a potential therapeutic target in breast cancer. This gene encodes mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 3 (MAP3K3/MEKK3), which has not yet been reported to be associated with cancer-causing genetic aberrations. We found that MAP3K3 was amplified in approximately 8-20% of breast cancers. Knockdown of MAP3K3 expression significantly inhibited cell proliferation and colony formation in MAP3K3-amplified breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-361 but not in MAP3K3 non-amplified breast cancer cells. Knockdown of MAP3K3 expression in MAP3K3-amplified breast cancer cells sensitized breast cancer cells to apoptotic induction by TNFα and TRAIL, as well as doxorubicin, VP-16 and fluorouracil, three commonly used chemotherapeutic drugs for treating breast cancer. In addition, ectopic expression of MAP3K3, in collaboration with Ras, induced colony formation in both primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts and immortalized human breast epithelial cells (MCF-10A). Combined, these results suggest that MAP3K3 contributes to breast carcinogenesis and may endow resistance of breast cancer cells to cytotoxic chemotherapy. Therefore, MAP3K3 may be a valuable therapeutic target in patients with MAP3K3-amplified breast cancers, and blocking MAP3K3 kinase activity with a small molecule inhibitor may sensitize MAP3K3-amplified breast cancer cells to chemotherapy.
The Journal of Pathology 10/2013; · 7.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PI3K is a central node mediating growth factor receptor signaling. With its downstream effectors such as AKT and mTOR, and its crosstalk with the RAS/RAF/MEK/MAPK pathway, it plays a vital role in cancer cell proliferation, metabolism, and survival. Recent breast cancer (BC) molecular portraits delineate PI3K as the most frequently altered pathway, with recurrent PIK3CA mutations mostly found in the luminal subtypes of BC. The transcriptomic and proteomic signatures of PI3K pathway activation associate with reduced estrogen receptor α (ER) levels and activity, and with the luminal B subtype of BC that has a relatively poor outcome. However, oncogenic transforming PIK3CA mutations have been shown to predict a better outcome in ER+/HER2-negative BC treated with endocrine therapy. In this review, we summarize the recent findings in the cause-and-effect of PI3K pathway aberration and endocrine sensitivity, especially the crosstalk with the ER pathway. Potential therapeutic approaches based on these findings are also discussed.
Breast (Edinburgh, Scotland) 09/2013; · 2.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine if development of acneiform rash is a predictor of objective response rate with lapatinib. DESIGN: Subanalysis of data from a prospective, phase II study. SETTING: Academic breast care clinic. PATIENTS: Forty-nine treatment-naïve patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2)-positive locally advanced breast cancer, who were treated with neoadjuvant lapatinib monotherapy for 6 weeks; 47 patients were included in the final analysis. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Of the 49 patients enrolled, 33 (67%) developed a rash of any type, and 26 (55%) had acneiform rash. Of the 26 evaluable patients with acneiform rash (55%), 19 (73%) responded to lapatinib and 7 (27%) did not. Of the 21 evaluable patients without acneiform rash, 11 (67%) responded to treatment and 7 (33%) did not. Thus, no association was found between the occurrence of acneiform rash and response to lapatinib monotherapy. CONCLUSION: This study does not support the development of the acneiform rash as a predictor of clinical efficacy of lapatinib in the treatment of breast cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSEWe previously reported the eradication of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-amplified human xenografts in mice by inhibition of the HER2 pathway with lapatinib and trastuzumab to block all homo- and heterodimer signaling as well as by blockade of estrogen receptor (ER) when expressed. In this clinical trial, we sought to translate these findings to patients using targeted therapy without chemotherapy. PATIENTS AND METHODS
Women with stages II to III HER2-positive breast cancers were eligible. They received trastuzumab once per week (4 mg/kg loading, then 2 mg/kg) and lapatinib 1000 mg once per day for 12 weeks. Women with ER-positive tumors also received letrozole (plus a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone [LHRH] agonist if premenopausal). Pathologic response was assessed by ER status. Biopsies were obtained at baseline, weeks 2 and 8, and time of surgery.ResultsSixty-six patients were enrolled, and 64 were eligible and evaluable for response. Median tumor size was 6 cm (range, 1.5 to 30 cm). Adverse events were mainly grades 1 to 2 (GI, 63%; skin, 46%). Grade 3 metabolic, GI, and liver (18%; 12 patients) and grade 4 liver toxicities (one patient) were also observed. Overall, in-breast pathologic complete response (pCR; ypT0-is) was 27% (ER positive, 21%; ER negative, 36%). The rate of low-volume residual disease (ypT1a-b) was 22% (ER positive, 33%; ER negative, 4%). CONCLUSION
In patients with locally advanced HER2-positive breast cancer, our approach of targeted therapy only resulted in a high pCR rate without chemotherapy. Our data support the hypothesis that selected patients with HER2-positive tumors may not need chemotherapy, and more-complete blockade of HER receptors and ER is an effective strategy worthy of further study.
Journal of Clinical Oncology 04/2013; · 18.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While a first pregnancy before age 22 lowers breast cancer risk, a pregnancy after age 35 significantly increases life-long breast cancer risk. Pregnancy causes several changes to the normal breast that raise barriers to transformation, but how pregnancy can also increase cancer risk remains unclear. We show in mice that pregnancy has different effects on the few early lesions that have already developed in the otherwise normal breast-it causes apoptosis evasion and accelerated progression to cancer. The apoptosis evasion is due to the normally tightly controlled STAT5 signaling going astray-these precancerous cells activate STAT5 in response to pregnancy/lactation hormones and maintain STAT5 activation even during involution, thus preventing the apoptosis normally initiated by oncoprotein and involution. Short-term anti-STAT5 treatment of lactation-completed mice bearing early lesions eliminates the increased risk after a pregnancy. This chemoprevention strategy has important implications for preventing increased human breast cancer risk caused by pregnancy. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00996.001.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies on well characterized, large populations of estrogen receptor (ER)/progesterone receptor (PgR)/HER2-negative [triple-negative (TN)] breast cancer (BC) patients with long-term follow-up are lacking. In this study, we analyze clinical outcomes of TN BC and implications of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression. Clinical and biologic features, time to first recurrence (TTFR), and overall survival (OS) were compared in 253 TN versus 1,036 ER positive, PgR positive, HER2-negative [estrogen-driven (ED)] BC. Compared to ED, TN tumors were larger (p = 0.02), more proliferative (high S-phase 54 vs. 17 %, p < 0.0001), more aneuploid (64 vs. 43 %, p < 0.0001) and more likely EGFR positive (≥10 fmol/mg by radioligand-binding assay, 49 vs. 7 %, p < 0.0001). Among TN, EGFR-positive BC were larger (p = 0.0018), more proliferative (p < 0.0001), and more aneuploid, (p < 0.0001) than EGFR-negative BC. Adjuvant-treated TN patients had shorter TTFR (p = 0.0003), and OS (p = 0.0017), than ED patients. However, in untreated patients, no differences in TTFR and OS were observed at 8 years median follow-up. Among TN patients, EGFR expression was not associated with worse outcome. TN tumors have a worse outcome in systemically treated patients but not in untreated patients. EGFR expression, does not predict for worse long-term survival.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 11/2012; · 4.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied resistance to endocrine and HER2-targeted therapies using a xenograft model of estrogen receptor positive (ER)/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. Here, we report a novel phenotype of drug resistance in this model. MCF7/HER2-18 xenografts were treated with endocrine therapy alone or in combination with lapatinib and trastuzumab (LT) to inhibit HER2. Archival tumor tissues were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and with mucicarmine. RNA extracted from tumors at early time points and late after acquired resistance were analyzed for mucin4 (MUC4) expression by microarray and quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. Protein expression of the MUC4, ER, and HER2 signaling pathways was measured by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. The combination of the potent anti-HER2 regimen LT with either tamoxifen (Tam + LT) or estrogen deprivation (ED + LT) can cause complete eradication of ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing tumors in mice. Tumors developing resistance to this combination, as well as those acquiring resistance to endocrine therapy alone, exhibited a distinct histological and molecular phenotype-a striking increase in mucin-filled vacuoles and upregulation of several mucins including MUC4. At the onset of resistance, MUC4 mRNA and protein were increased. These tumors also showed upregulation and reactivation of HER2 signaling, while losing ER protein and the estrogen-regulated gene progesterone receptor. Mucins are upregulated in a preclinical model of ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer as resistance develops to the combination of endocrine and anti-HER2 therapy. These mucin-rich tumors reactivate the HER2 pathway and shift their molecular phenotype to become more ER-negative/HER2-positive.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 05/2012; 134(2):583-93. · 4.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The coregulator steroid receptor coactivator (SRC)-1 increases transcriptional activity of the estrogen receptor (ER) in a number of tissues including bone. Mice deficient in SRC-1 are osteopenic and display skeletal resistance to estrogen treatment. SRC-1 is also known to modulate effects of selective ER modulators like tamoxifen. We hypothesized that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in SRC-1 may impact estrogen and/or tamoxifen action. Because the only nonsynonymous SNP in SRC-1 (rs1804645; P1272S) is located in an activation domain, it was examined for effects on estrogen and tamoxifen action. SRC-1 P1272S showed a decreased ability to coactivate ER compared with wild-type SRC-1 in multiple cell lines. Paradoxically, SRC-1 P1272S had an increased protein half-life. The Pro to Ser change disrupts a putative glycogen synthase 3 (GSK3)β phosphorylation site that was confirmed by in vitro kinase assays. Finally, knockdown of GSK3β increased SRC-1 protein levels, mimicking the loss of phosphorylation at P1272S. These findings are similar to the GSK3β-mediated phospho-ubiquitin clock previously described for the related coregulator SRC-3. To assess the potential clinical significance of this SNP, we examined whether there was an association between SRC-1 P1272S and selective ER modulators response in bone. SRC-1 P1272S was associated with a decrease in hip and lumbar bone mineral density in women receiving tamoxifen treatment, supporting our in vitro findings for decreased ER coactivation. In summary, we have identified a functional genetic variant of SRC-1 with decreased activity, resulting, at least in part, from the loss of a GSK3β phosphorylation site, which was also associated with decreased bone mineral density in tamoxifen-treated women.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Myc is an oncogenic transcription factor frequently dysregulated in human cancer. To identify pathways supporting the Myc oncogenic program, we used a genome-wide RNA interference screen to search for Myc-synthetic lethal genes and uncovered a role for the SUMO-activating enzyme (SAE1/2). Loss of SAE1/2 enzymatic activity drives synthetic lethality with Myc. Inactivation of SAE2 leads to mitotic catastrophe and cell death upon Myc hyperactivation. Mechanistically, SAE2 inhibition switches a transcriptional subprogram of Myc from activated to repressed. A subset of these SUMOylation-dependent Myc switchers (SMS genes) is required for mitotic spindle function and to support the Myc oncogenic program. SAE2 is required for growth of Myc-dependent tumors in mice, and gene expression analyses of Myc-high human breast cancers suggest that low SAE1 and SAE2 abundance in the tumors correlates with longer metastasis-free survival of the patients. Thus, inhibition of SUMOylation may merit investigation as a possible therapy for Myc-driven human cancers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The advent of HER2-directed therapies has significantly improved the outlook for patients with HER2-positive early stage breast cancer. However, a significant proportion of these patients still relapse and die of breast cancer. Trials to define, refine and optimize the use of the two approved HER2-targeted agents (trastuzumab and lapatinib) in patients with HER2-positive early stage breast cancer are ongoing. In addition, promising new approaches are being developed including monoclonal antibodies and small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting HER2 or other HER family members, antibodies linked to cytotoxic moieties or modified to improve their immunological function, immunostimulatory peptides, and targeting the PI3K and IGF-1R pathways. Improved understanding of the HER2 signaling pathway, its relationship with other signaling pathways and mechanisms of resistance has also led to the development of rational combination therapies and to a greater insight into treatment response in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. Based on promising results with new agents in HER2-positive advanced-stage disease, a series of large trials in the adjuvant and neoadjuvant settings are planned or ongoing. This Review focuses on current treatment for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer and aims to update practicing clinicians on likely future developments in the treatment for this disease according to ongoing clinical trials and translational research.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeted therapies trastuzumab (T) and lapatinib (L) show high efficacy in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, but resistance is prevalent. Here we investigate resistance mechanisms to each drug alone, or to their combination using a large panel of HER2-positive cell lines made resistant to these drugs.
Response to L + T treatment was characterized in a panel of 13 HER2-positive cell lines to identify lines that were de novo resistant. Acquired resistant lines were then established by long-term exposure to increasing drug concentrations. Levels and activity of HER2 and estrogen receptor (ER) pathways were determined by qRT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and immunoblotting assays. Cell growth, proliferation, and apoptosis in parental cells and resistant derivatives were assessed in response to inhibition of HER or ER pathways, either pharmacologically (L, T, L + T, or fulvestrant) or by using siRNAs. Efficacy of combined endocrine and anti-HER2 therapies was studied in vivo using UACC-812 xenografts.
ER or its downstream products increased in four out of the five ER+/HER2+ lines, and was evident in one of the two intrinsically resistant lines. In UACC-812 and BT474 parental and resistant derivatives, HER2 inhibition by T reactivated HER network activity to promote resistance. T-resistant lines remained sensitive to HER2 inhibition by either L or HER2 siRNA. With more complete HER2 blockade, resistance to L-containing regimens required the activation of a redundant survival pathway, ER, which was up-regulated and promoted survival via various Bcl2 family members. These L- and L + T-resistant lines were responsive to fulvestrant and to ER siRNA. However, after prolonged treatment with L, but not L + T, BT474 cells switched from depending on ER as a survival pathway, to relying again on the HER network (increased HER2, HER3, and receptor ligands) to overcome L's effects. The combination of endocrine and L + T HER2-targeted therapies achieved complete tumor regression and prevented development of resistance in UACC-812 xenografts.
Combined L + T treatment provides a more complete and stable inhibition of the HER network. With sustained HER2 inhibition, ER functions as a key escape/survival pathway in ER-positive/HER2-positive cells. Complete blockade of the HER network, together with ER inhibition, may provide optimal therapy in selected patients.
Breast cancer research: BCR 11/2011; 13(6):R121. · 5.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endocrine therapy represents the first and most efficacious targeted treatment for women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. In the last four decades several hormonal agents have been successfully introduced in clinical practice as both palliative therapy for advanced disease and adjuvant treatment for prevention of tumor relapse. Nevertheless, the intrinsic and acquired resistance occurs in a significant proportion of patients, limiting the efficacy of endocrine treatments. Several molecular mechanisms have been proposed to be responsible for endocrine resistance. Loss of ER expression, altered activity of ER coregulators, deregulation of apoptosis and cell cycle signaling, and hyperactive receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) and stress/cell kinase pathways can collectively orchestrate the development and sustenance of pharmacologic resistance to endocrine therapy. Preclinical and clinical evidence documents the plasticity in ER expression levels and signaling. As such, ER can either drive gene transcription and tumor progression directly or crosstalk with alternate RTK and cellular kinase signaling pathways, resulting in modulation of its own expression levels and transcriptional program. For this reason a therapeutic approach based on the combination of agents targeting both ER and RTK signaling represents a promising strategy to be tested. Among many RTKs, EGFR, HER2, and PI3K have been found to be viable targets for the combination therapy strategy, at least in the preclinical setting. However, early results from clinical trials testing combination strategies have been discordant, suggesting the need for better approaches to simultaneously inhibit multiple escape pathways and to select the patients who may benefit the most from these strategies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The overexpression of human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2 in 20% of human breast cancers and its association with aggressive growth has led to widespread use of HER2-targeted therapies, such as trastuzumab (T) and lapatinib (L). Despite the success of these drugs, their efficacy is limited in patients whose tumors demonstrate de novo or acquired resistance to treatment. The β1 integrin resides on the membrane of the breast cancer cell, activating several elements of breast tumor progression including proliferation and survival.
We developed a panel of HER2-overexpressing cell lines resistant to L, T, and the potent LT combination through long-term exposure and validated these models in 3D culture. Parental and L/T/LT-resistant cells were subject to HER2 and β1 integrin inhibitors in 3D and monitored for 12 days, followed by quantification of colony number. Parallel experiments were conducted where cells were either stained for Ki-67 and Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) or harvested for protein and analyzed by immunoblot. Results were subjected to statistical testing using analysis of variance and linear contrasts, followed by adjustment with the Sidak method.
Using multiple cell lines including BT474 and HCC1954, we reveal that in L and LT resistance, where phosphorylation of EGFR/HER1, HER2, and HER3 are strongly inhibited, kinases downstream of β1 integrin--including focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and Src--are up-regulated. Blockade of β1 by the antibody AIIB2 abrogates this up-regulation and functionally achieves significant growth inhibition of L and LT resistant cells in 3D, without dramatically affecting the parental cells. SiRNA against β1 as well as pharmacologic inhibition of FAK achieve the same growth inhibitory effect. In contrast, trastuzumab-resistant cells, which retain high levels of phosphorylated EGFR/HER1, HER2, and HER3, are only modestly growth-inhibited by AIIB2.
Our data suggest that HER2 activity, which is suppressed in resistance involving L but not T alone, dictates whether β1 mediates an alternative pathway driving resistance. Our findings justify clinical studies investigating the inhibition of β1 or its downstream signaling moieties as strategies to overcome acquired L and LT resistance.
Breast cancer research: BCR 08/2011; 13(4):R84. · 5.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recent incremental advances made in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer have elicited potential for survival extension in this treatable, yet incurable, population of breast cancer patients. Clinicians have focused on targeted therapies, which aim at signaling receptors such as the human epidermal receptor superfamily, the estrogen receptor, VEGF, the insulin-like growth factor receptor, the hepatocyte growth factor receptor (cMET), phosphoinositide 3-kinase, mTOR, and many others.
Clinical Cancer Research 08/2011; 17(17):5559-61. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among breast cancers, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most poorly understood and is refractory to current targeted therapies. Using a genetic screen, we identify the PTPN12 tyrosine phosphatase as a tumor suppressor in TNBC. PTPN12 potently suppresses mammary epithelial cell proliferation and transformation. PTPN12 is frequently compromised in human TNBCs, and we identify an upstream tumor-suppressor network that posttranscriptionally controls PTPN12. PTPN12 suppresses transformation by interacting with and inhibiting multiple oncogenic tyrosine kinases, including HER2 and EGFR. The tumorigenic and metastatic potential of PTPN12-deficient TNBC cells is severely impaired upon restoration of PTPN12 function or combined inhibition of PTPN12-regulated tyrosine kinases, suggesting that TNBCs are dependent on the proto-oncogenic tyrosine kinases constrained by PTPN12. Collectively, these data identify PTPN12 as a commonly inactivated tumor suppressor and provide a rationale for combinatorially targeting proto-oncogenic tyrosine kinases in TNBC and other cancers based on their profile of tyrosine-phosphatase activity.