[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intratumor heterogeneity is a major clinical problem because tumor cell subtypes display variable sensitivity to therapeutics and may play different roles in progression. We previously characterized 2 cell populations in human breast tumors with distinct properties: CD44+CD24- cells that have stem cell-like characteristics, and CD44-CD24+ cells that resemble more differentiated breast cancer cells. Here we identified 15 genes required for cell growth or proliferation in CD44+CD24- human breast cancer cells in a large-scale loss-of-function screen and found that inhibition of several of these (IL6, PTGIS, HAS1, CXCL3, and PFKFB3) reduced Stat3 activation. We found that the IL-6/JAK2/Stat3 pathway was preferentially active in CD44+CD24- breast cancer cells compared with other tumor cell types, and inhibition of JAK2 decreased their number and blocked growth of xenografts. Our results highlight the differences between distinct breast cancer cell types and identify targets such as JAK2 and Stat3 that may lead to more specific and effective breast cancer therapies.
The Journal of clinical investigation 06/2011; 121(7):2723-35. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic alterations that activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP kinase) pathway occur commonly in cancer. For example, the majority of melanomas harbor mutations in the BRAF oncogene, which are predicted to confer enhanced sensitivity to pharmacologic MAP kinase inhibition (e.g., RAF or MEK inhibitors). We investigated the clinical relevance of MEK dependency in melanoma by massively parallel sequencing of resistant clones generated from a MEK1 random mutagenesis screen in vitro, as well as tumors obtained from relapsed patients following treatment with AZD6244, an allosteric MEK inhibitor. Most mutations conferring resistance to MEK inhibition in vitro populated the allosteric drug binding pocket or alpha-helix C and showed robust ( approximately 100-fold) resistance to allosteric MEK inhibition. Other mutations affected MEK1 codons located within or abutting the N-terminal negative regulatory helix (helix A), which also undergo gain-of-function germline mutations in cardio-facio-cutaneous (CFC) syndrome. One such mutation, MEK1(P124L), was identified in a resistant metastatic focus that emerged in a melanoma patient treated with AZD6244. Both MEK1(P124L) and MEK1(Q56P), which disrupts helix A, conferred cross-resistance to PLX4720, a selective B-RAF inhibitor. However, exposing BRAF-mutant melanoma cells to AZD6244 and PLX4720 in combination prevented emergence of resistant clones. These results affirm the importance of MEK dependency in BRAF-mutant melanoma and suggest novel mechanisms of resistance to MEK and B-RAF inhibitors that may have important clinical implications.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2009; 106(48):20411-6. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dysregulation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway occurs frequently in human cancer. PTEN tumor suppressor or PIK3CA oncogene mutations both direct PI3K-dependent tumorigenesis largely through activation of the AKT/PKB kinase. However, here we show through phosphoprotein profiling and functional genomic studies that many PIK3CA mutant cancer cell lines and human breast tumors exhibit only minimal AKT activation and a diminished reliance on AKT for anchorage-independent growth. Instead, these cells retain robust PDK1 activation and membrane localization and exhibit dependency on the PDK1 substrate SGK3. SGK3 undergoes PI3K- and PDK1-dependent activation in PIK3CA mutant cancer cells. Thus, PI3K may promote cancer through both AKT-dependent and AKT-independent mechanisms. Knowledge of differential PI3K/PDK1 signaling could inform rational therapeutics in cancers harboring PIK3CA mutations.
Cancer cell 08/2009; 16(1):21-32. · 25.29 Impact Factor