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: 4.57). 06/2011; 286(23):20558-68. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.240796
Source: PubMed


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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    • "In a case reported by Usuda et al., despite initial response, the disease progressed while on gefitinib and while no secondary EGFR mutations were found, ABCG2 expression was detected in the recurrent tumor and was suggested to be the cause of resistance [212]. Studies to elucidate the mechanism of ABCG2 expression and correlation with resistance to EGFR inhibitors found elevated levels of wild type EGFR in the nucleus [213]. This increased expression was associated with increased phosphorylation of AKT at Ser-229. "
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    ABSTRACT: Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world. "Driver" and "passenger" mutations identified in lung cancer indicate that genetics play a major role in the development of the disease, progression, metastasis and response to therapy. Survival rates for lung cancer treatment have remained stagnant at ~15% over the past 40 years in patients with disseminated disease despite advances in surgical techniques, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Resistance to therapy; either intrinsic or acquired has been a major hindrance to treatment leading to great interest in studies seeking to understand and overcome resistance. Genetic information gained from molecular analyses has been critical in identifying druggable targets and tumor profiles that may be predictors of therapeutic response and mediators of resistance. Mutated or overexpressed epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and translocations in the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4)-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) genes (EML4-ALK) are examples of genetic aberrations resulting in targeted therapies for both localized and metastatic disease. Positive clinical responses have been noted in patients harboring these genetic mutations when treated with targeted therapies compared to patients lacking these mutations. Resistance is nonetheless a major factor contributing to the failure of targeted agents and standard cytotoxic agents. In this review, we examine molecular mechanisms that are potential drivers of resistance in non-small cell lung carcinoma, the most frequently diagnosed form of lung cancer. The mechanisms addressed include resistance to molecular targeted therapies as well as conventional chemotherapeutics through the activity of multidrug resistance proteins.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013
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    • "Another mechanism by which Sym004-directed degradation of EGFR may overcome Ctx R is through the inhibition of EGFR nuclear translocation. Numerous studies have demonstrated that nuclear EGFR can enhance resistance to cetuximab [8], gefitinib [31], radiation [32] [33], and chemotherapy [34] [35]. Previous research with the current model demonstrated that inhibition of nuclear EGFR could resensitize resistant clones to cetuximab [8]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a central regulator of tumor progression in a variety of human cancers. Cetuximab is an anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody that has been approved for head and neck and colorectal cancer treatment, but many patients treated with cetuximab don't respond or eventually acquire resistance. To determine how tumor cells acquire resistance to cetuximab, we previously developed a model of acquired resistance using the non-small cell lung cancer line NCI-H226. These cetuximab-resistant (Ctx(R)) cells exhibit increased steady-state EGFR expression secondary to alterations in EGFR trafficking and degradation and, further, retained dependence on EGFR signaling for enhanced growth potential. Here, we examined Sym004, a novel mixture of antibodies directed against distinct epitopes on the extracellular domain of EGFR, as an alternative therapy for Ctx(R) tumor cells. Sym004 treatment of Ctx(R) clones resulted in rapid EGFR degradation, followed by robust inhibition of cell proliferation and down-regulation of several mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. To determine whether Sym004 could have therapeutic benefit in vivo, we established de novo Ctx(R) NCI-H226 mouse xenografts and subsequently treated Ctx(R) tumors with Sym004. Sym004 treatment of mice harboring Ctx(R) tumors resulted in growth delay compared to mice continued on cetuximab. Levels of total and phospho-EGFR were robustly decreased in Ctx(R) tumors treated with Sym004. Immunohistochemical analysis of these Sym004-treated xenograft tumors further demonstrated decreased expression of Ki67, and phospho-rpS6, as well as a modest increase in cleaved caspase-3. These results indicate that Sym004 may be an effective targeted therapy for Ctx(R) tumors.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)
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    • "Clinically, nuclear EGFR has been correlated with poor overall survival in breast [9], [10], ovarian [11], oropharyngeal [9], [12], and gallbladder [13] cancers. Nuclear EGFR has also been shown to play a role in resistance to numerous cancer therapies, including radiation [14]–[18], cisplatin [17]–[19], and the anti-EGFR therapies cetuximab [20] and gefitinib [21]. Collectively, these pivotal studies suggest that nuclear HER family receptors may enhance the tumorigenic phenotype of cancer cells, and therefore their nuclear roles must be further elucidated. "
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    ABSTRACT: Nuclear localized HER family receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) have been observed in primary tumor specimens and cancer cell lines for nearly two decades. Inside the nucleus, HER family members (EGFR, HER2, and HER3) have been shown to function as co-transcriptional activators for various cancer-promoting genes. However, the regions of each receptor that confer transcriptional potential remain poorly defined. The current study aimed to map the putative transactivation domains (TADs) of the HER3 receptor. To accomplish this goal, various intracellular regions of HER3 were fused to the DNA binding domain of the yeast transcription factor Gal4 (Gal4DBD) and tested for their ability to transactivate Gal4 UAS-luciferase. Results from these analyses demonstrated that the C-terminal domain of HER3 (CTD, amino acids distal to the tyrosine kinase domain) contained potent transactivation potential. Next, nine HER3-CTD truncation mutants were constructed to map minimal regions of transactivation potential using the Gal4 UAS-luciferase based system. These analyses identified a bipartite region of 34 (B1) and 27 (B2) amino acids in length that conferred the majority of HER3's transactivation potential. Next, we identified full-length nuclear HER3 association and regulation of a 122 bp region of the cyclin D1 promoter. To understand how the B1 and B2 regions influenced the transcriptional functions of nuclear HER3, we performed cyclin D1 promoter-luciferase assays in which HER3 deleted of the B1 and B2 regions was severely hindered in regulating this promoter. Further, the overexpression of HER3 enhanced cyclin D1 mRNA expression, while HER3 deleted of its identified TADs was hindered at doing so. Thus, the ability for HER3 to function as a transcriptional co-activator may be dependent on specific C-terminal TADs.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · PLoS ONE
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