[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HER2 oncogene is overexpressed or amplified in 20% of breast cancers. HER2-positive cancer historically portends a poor prognosis, but the HER2-targeted therapy trastuzumab mitigates this otherwise ominous distinction. Nevertheless, some patients suffer disease recurrence despite trastuzumab, and metastatic disease remains largely incurable due to innate and acquired resistance. Thus, understanding trastuzumab resistance remains an unmet medical need. Through RNA interference screening, we discovered that knockdown of the serine/threonine phosphatase PPM1H confers trastuzumab resistance via reduction in protein levels of the tumor suppressor p27. PPM1H dephosphorylates p27 at threonine 187, thus removing a signal for proteasomal degradation. We further determined that patients whose tumors express low levels of PPM1H trend towards worse clinical outcome on trastuzumab. Identifying PPM1H as a novel p27 phosphatase reveals new insight into how cancer cells destabilize a well-recognized tumor suppressor. Furthermore, low PPM1H expression may identify a subset of HER2-positive tumors that are harder to treat.
Cancer Discovery 09/2011; 1(4):326-37. · 15.93 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and HER3 each form heterodimers with HER2 and have independently been implicated as key coreceptors that drive HER2-amplified breast cancer. Some studies suggest a dominant role for EGFR, a notion of renewed interest given the development of dual HER2/EGFR small-molecule inhibitors. Other studies point to HER3 as the primary coreceptor. To clarify the relative contributions of EGFR and HER3 to HER2 signaling, we studied receptor knockdown via small interfering RNA technology across a panel of six HER2-overexpressing cell lines. Interestingly, HER3 was as critical as HER2 for maintaining cell proliferation in most cell lines, whereas EGFR was dispensable. Induction of HER3 knockdown in the HER2-overexpressing BT474M1 cell line was found to inhibit growth in three-dimensional culture and induce rapid tumor regression of in vivo xenografts. Furthermore, preferential phosphorylation of HER3, but not EGFR, was observed in HER2-amplified breast cancer tissues. Given these data suggesting HER3 as an important therapeutic target, we examined the activity of pertuzumab, a HER2 antibody that inhibits HER3 signaling by blocking ligand-induced HER2/HER3 heterodimerization. Pertuzumab inhibited ligand-dependent morphogenesis in three-dimensional culture and induced tumor regression in the heregulin-dependent MDA-MB-175 xenograft model. Importantly, these activities of pertuzumab were distinct from those of trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody currently used for treatment of HER2-amplified breast cancer patients. Our data suggest that inhibition of HER3 may be more clinically relevant than inhibition of EGFR in HER2-amplified breast cancer and also suggest that adding pertuzumab to trastuzumab may augment therapeutic benefit by blocking HER2/HER3 signaling.
Cancer Research 07/2008; 68(14):5878-87. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2) is thought to play a role in normal wound repair and bone remodeling, but also promotes fibrosis in several disease processes including diabetic nephropathy, sclerodoma and pancreatitis. A contribution to desmoplasia associated with pancreatic cancer progression has also been proposed. CTGF is induced by TGFbeta in diverse cell types, but TGFbeta receptor mediated signaling is impaired in pancreatic cancers and cell lines, usually due to DPC4/Smad4 mutations which arise during the later stages of intraepithelial neoplastic progression. Therefore, in order to define signaling pathways that mediate basal and TGFbeta-induced CTGF expression in normal and transformed cells, we compared CTGF gene regulation in pancreatic cancer cells and fibroblasts by measuring the effects of small molecule inhibitors and dominant negative mutants of signaling proteins on CTGF promoter reporter activity, message, and protein expression. We determined that the previously identified TEF-1 cis element is essential for CTGF promoter reporter activity in pancreatic cancer cell lines. Whereas p38 mediated CTGF induction by TGFbeta in fibroblasts, MEK/ERK signaling mediated TGFbeta-induced CTGF expression in pancreatic cancer cells and was also responsible for basal CTGF expression in pancreatic cancer cell lines with defective Smad signaling. Since activating Ras mutations occur in the earliest stages of pancreatic cancer, CTGF may be induced independent of Smad4 in pancreatic cancer cells.
International Journal of Oncology 11/2007; 31(4):693-703. · 2.77 Impact Factor