ERBB3; v-erb-b2 avian erythroblastic leukemia viral oncogene homolog 3 (12q13)

Gene Summary

Gene:ERBB3; v-erb-b2 avian erythroblastic leukemia viral oncogene homolog 3
Aliases: HER3, LCCS2, ErbB-3, c-erbB3, erbB3-S, MDA-BF-1, c-erbB-3, p180-ErbB3, p45-sErbB3, p85-sErbB3
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family of receptor tyrosine kinases. This membrane-bound protein has a neuregulin binding domain but not an active kinase domain. It therefore can bind this ligand but not convey the signal into the cell through protein phosphorylation. However, it does form heterodimers with other EGF receptor family members which do have kinase activity. Heterodimerization leads to the activation of pathways which lead to cell proliferation or differentiation. Amplification of this gene and/or overexpression of its protein have been reported in numerous cancers, including prostate, bladder, and breast tumors. Alternate transcriptional splice variants encoding different isoforms have been characterized. One isoform lacks the intermembrane region and is secreted outside the cell. This form acts to modulate the activity of the membrane-bound form. Additional splice variants have also been reported, but they have not been thoroughly characterized. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:receptor tyrosine-protein kinase erbB-3
Updated:14 December, 2014


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (47)


What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
- Neuroregulin receptor degredation protein-1 Controls ErbB3 receptor recycling BIOCARTA
- Role of ERBB2 in Signal Transduction and Oncology BIOCARTA
- Calcium signaling pathway KEGG
Data from KEGG and BioCarta [BIOCARTA terms] via CGAP

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1989-2014)
Graph generated 14 December 2014 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 14 December, 2014 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Notable (4)

Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
Breast CancerERBB3 and Breast Cancer View Publications74
Lung CancerERBB3 and Lung Cancer View Publications29
Ewing's SarcomaERBB3 and Ewing's Sarcoma View Publications3
Salivary Gland CancerERBB3 and Salivary Gland Cancer View Publications1

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Related Links

Latest Publications: ERBB3 (cancer-related)

Fukui Y
Mechanisms behind signet ring cell carcinoma formation.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 450(4):1231-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
Signet ring cell carcinomas are highly malignant dedifferentiated adenocarcinomas. There are no cell-cell interactions between these round-shaped cells. They contain huge numbers of vacuoles, filled with mucins, which are secreted from the cells. The mechanism behind this phenotype has recently begun to be elucidated. In highly differentiated adenocarcinomas the ErbB2/ErbB3 complex is activated, which is followed by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activation. p38 MAP kinase is activated downstream of PI3K and adherens junctions are disrupted via Rac1 activation. Loss of adherens junctions leads to the disappearance of tight junctions, which results in a loss of cell-cell interactions. Secretion of mucin is enhanced by activation of PI3K. One of the mucins - Muc4 - can activate ErbB2. Under normal conditions Muc4 and ErbB2 are separated by adherens and tight junctions, however in signet ring cells they are able to interact, since these junctions have been lost. Therefore, an activation loop is formed, consisting of ERbB2/ErbB3-Muc4-ErbB2/ErbB3. As a result, the ErbB2/ErbB3 signaling pathway becomes constitutively activated, cell-cell interactions are lost, and signet ring carcinomas are formed. As a result of constitutive activation of the ErbB2/ErbB3 complex, cell growth is continuously enhanced. Some signet ring cell carcinomas have been found to have mutations in the E-cadherin gene, which fits the above hypothesis.

Mu Z, Klinowska T, Dong X, et al.
AZD8931, an equipotent, reversible inhibitor of signaling by epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), HER2, and HER3: preclinical activity in HER2 non-amplified inflammatory breast cancer models.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2014; 33:47 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression has been associated with prognostic and predictive value in inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) overexpression is observed at a higher rate in IBC compared with noninflammatory breast cancer. Current clinically available anti-HER2 therapies are effective only in patients with HER2 amplified breast cancer, including IBC. AZD8931 is a novel small-molecule equipotent inhibitor of EGFR, HER2, and HER3 signaling. In this study, we investigated the antitumor activity of AZD8931 alone or in combination with paclitaxel using preclinical models of EGFR-overexpressed and HER2 non-amplified IBC cells.
METHODS: Two IBC cell lines SUM149 and FC-IBC-02 derived from pleural effusion of an IBC patient were used in this study. Cell growth and apoptotic cell death were examined in vitro. For the in vivo tumor growth studies, IBC cells were orthotopically transplanted into the mammary fat pads of immunodeficient mice. AZD8931 was given by daily oral gavage at doses of 25 mg/kg, 5 days/week for 4 weeks. Paclitaxel was subcutaneously injected twice weekly.
RESULTS: AZD8931 significantly suppressed cell growth of IBC cells and induced apoptosis of human IBC cells in vitro. Significantly, we showed that AZD8931 monotherapy inhibited xenograft growth and the combination of paclitaxel + AZD8931 was demonstrably more effective than paclitaxel or AZD8931 alone treatment at delaying tumor growth in vivo in orthotopic IBC models.
CONCLUSION: AZD8931 single agent and in combination with paclitaxel demonstrated signal inhibition and antitumor activity in EGFR-overexpressed and HER2 non-amplified IBC models. These results suggest that AZD8931 may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of IBC patients with HER2 non-amplified tumors.

Related: Apoptosis Signal Transduction EGFR

Asp N, Pust S, Sandvig K
Flotillin depletion affects ErbB protein levels in different human breast cancer cells.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1843(9):1987-96 [PubMed] Related Publications
The ErbB3 receptor is an important regulator of cell growth and carcinogenesis. Among breast cancer patients, up to 50-70% have ErbB3 overexpression and 20-30% show overexpressed or amplified ErbB2. ErbB3 has also been implicated in the development of resistance to several drugs used against cancers driven by ErbB1 or ErbB2. One of the main challenges in ErbB-targeting therapy is to inactivate signaling mediated by ErbB2-ErbB3 oncogenic receptor complexes. We analyzed the regulatory role of flotillins on ErbB3 levels and ErbB2-ErbB3 complexes in SKBR3, MCF7 and MDA-MB-134-VI human breast cancer cells. Recently, we described a mechanism for interfering with ErbB2 signaling in breast cancer and demonstrated a molecular complex of flotillin scaffolding proteins with ErbB2 and Hsp90. In the present study, flotillins were found to be in a molecular complex with ErbB3, even in cells without the presence of ErbB2 or other ErbB receptors. Depletion of either flotillin-1 or flotillin-2 resulted in downregulation of ErbB3 and a selective reduction of ErbB2-ErbB3 receptor complexes. Moreover, flotillin-2 depletion resulted in reduced activation of Akt and MAPK signaling cascades, and as a functional consequence of flotillin depletion, breast cancer cells showed an impaired cell migration. Altogether, we provide data demonstrating a novel and functional role of flotillins in the regulation of ErbB protein levels and stabilization of ErbB2-ErbB3 receptor complexes. Thus, flotillins are crucial regulators for oncogenic ErbB function and potential targets for cancer treatment.

Related: Breast Cancer AKT1

Awasthi S, Hamburger AW
Heregulin negatively regulates transcription of ErbB2/3 receptors via an AKT-mediated pathway.
J Cell Physiol. 2014; 229(11):1831-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Despite the importance of the ErbB2/3 heterodimer in breast cancer progression, the negative regulation of these receptors is still poorly understood. We demonstrate here for the first time that the ErbB3/4 ligand heregulin (HRG) reduced both ErbB2 and ErbB3 mRNA and protein levels in human breast cancer cell lines. In contrast, EGFR levels were unaffected by HRG treatment. The effect was rapid with a decline in steady-state mRNA levels first noted 2 h after HRG treatment. HRG reduced the rate of transcription of ErbB2 and ErbB3 mRNA, but did not affect ErbB2 or ErbB3 mRNA stability. To test if ErbB2 kinase activity was required for the HRG-induced downregulation, we treated cells with the ErbB2/EGFR inhibitor lapatinib. Lapatinib diminished the HRG-induced decrease in ErbB2 and ErbB3 mRNA and protein, suggesting that the kinase activity of EGFR/ErbB2 is involved in the HRG-induced receptor downregulation. Further, HRG-mediated decreases in ErbB2/3 mRNA transcription are reversed by inhibiting the AKT but not MAPK pathway. To examine the functional consequences of HRG-mediated decreases in ErbB receptor levels, we performed cell-cycle analysis. HRG blocked cell-cycle progression and lapatinib reversed this block. Our findings support a role for HRG in the negative regulation of ErbB expression and suggest that inhibition of ErbB2/3 signaling by ErbB2 directed therapies may interfere with this process. J. Cell. Physiol. 229: 1831-1841, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Related: Breast Cancer AKT1 Signal Transduction Lapatinib (Tyverb)

Wu X, Chen Y, Li G, et al.
Her3 is associated with poor survival of gastric adenocarcinoma: Her3 promotes proliferation, survival and migration of human gastric cancer mediated by PI3K/AKT signaling pathway.
Med Oncol. 2014; 31(4):903 [PubMed] Related Publications
ErbB3 (Her3) is a membrane-bound protein which can form heterodimers with other EGF receptor family members with kinase activity. Previous reports identified Her3 as a significant predictor of poor survival in human gastric cancer (GC), but its mechanism has remained unclear. We sought to investigate the mechanism of Her3 in GC and its association with clinical characteristics. Her3 was detected by both real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 161 GC patients, and its related downstream signaling PI3K/AKT activity and clinical characteristics were accessed by statistical analysis. Her3 siRNA was used in both in vitro and in vivo assay to investigate the mechanism. Her3 expression was significantly increased in human GC compared with adjacent normal gastric tissues as observed by both real-time PCR and IHC. Her3 expression was associated with downstream AKT activation and increased tumor size, metastasis and poor survival in GC patients. Knockdown of Her3 in human GC cell line can inhibit cell proliferation and tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo by inactivation of AKT. Her3 knockdown had no observed impact on Her2 expression or activity. G2/M arrest was investigated due to decreased CyclinB1 and p27(kip1) at T157. Increased apoptosis occurred in Her3 silenced GC cell treated with cisplatin due to decreased BAD at S112. Moreover, Her3 silence can inhibit cell migration in vitro and metastasis in vivo by down-regulating MMPs via PI3K/AKT signaling. Her3 is a new prognostic factor associated with tumor growth and metastasis via PI3K/AKT signaling.

Related: Apoptosis AKT1 Signal Transduction Stomach Cancer Gastric Cancer

Yu Z, Li XM, Liu SH, et al.
Downregulation of both EGFR and ErbB3 improves the cellular response to pemetrexed in an established pemetrexed‑resistant lung adenocarcinoma A549 cell line.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 31(4):1818-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ErbB3 (HER3) play important roles in the regulation of cell proliferation, differentiation, anti-apoptosis and chemoresistance; however, their dysregulation in pemetrexed (PEM) resistance remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to clarify the relationship between PEM resistance and gene expression of EGFR and ErbB3, by establishing the PEM-resistant lung adenocarcinoma A549 cell line, A549/PEM. Compared with A549 cells, the A549/PEM cells were significantly more resistant to PEM (P=0.0024). The downregulation of S phase and arrest at G1 stage were detected in the A549/PEM cell line when compared to the A549 cells (P<0.05). The apoptosis rate of A549/PEM cells was much lower than that of the A549 cells after a 24 h continuous exposure to PEM (P<0.001). Real-time PCR and western blotting demonstrated the overexpression of EGFR and ErbB3 in A549/PEM cells. However, downregulation of EGFR or ErbB3 by lentiviral delivered shRNAs in A549/PEM cells showed no significant correlation with PEM sensitivity while silencing both EGFR and ErbB3 increased the cellular response to PEM in the A549/PEM cells and significantly decreased phosphorylation of STAT3, AKT and ERK. Together, these data suggest that either high expression of EGFR or ErbB3 plays a critical role in the cellular response to PEM in human lung adenocarcinoma cells though EGFR/ErbB3-dependent pathways.

Related: Lung Cancer Pemetrexed EGFR

Printsev I, Yen L, Sweeney C, Carraway KL
Oligomerization of the Nrdp1 E3 ubiquitin ligase is necessary for efficient autoubiquitination but not ErbB3 ubiquitination.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(12):8570-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/03/2015 Related Publications
Overexpression of the ErbB3 receptor tyrosine kinase protein in breast and other cancers contributes to tumor malignancy and therapeutic resistance. The RBCC/TRIM family RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase Nrdp1 mediates the ubiquitination of ErbB3 in normal mammary epithelial cells to facilitate receptor degradation and suppress steady-state receptor levels. Post-transcriptional loss of Nrdp1 in patient breast tumors allows ErbB3 overexpression and receptor contribution to tumor progression, and elevated lability through autoubiquitination contributes to the observed loss of Nrdp1 in tumors relative to normal tissue. To begin to understand the mechanisms underlying Nrdp1 protein self-regulation through lability, we investigated the structural determinants required for efficient autoubiquitination and ErbB3 ubiquitination. Using mutagenesis, chemical cross-linking, size exclusion chromatography, and native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, we demonstrate that Nrdp1 self-associates into a stable oligomeric complex in cells. Deletion of its coiled-coil domain abrogates oligomerization but does not affect Nrdp1-mediated ErbB3 ubiquitination or degradation. On the other hand, the presence of the coiled-coil domain is necessary for efficient Nrdp1 autoubiquitination via a trans mechanism, indicating that Nrdp1 ubiquitination of its various targets is functionally separable. Finally, a GFP fusion of the coiled-coil domain stabilizes Nrdp1 and potentiates ErbB3 ubiquitination and degradation. These observations point to a model whereby the coiled-coil domain plays a key role in regulating Nrdp1 lability by promoting its assembly into an oligomeric complex, and raise the possibility that inhibition of ligase oligomerization via its coiled-coil domain could be of therapeutic benefit to breast cancer patients by restoring Nrdp1 protein.

Related: Breast Cancer

Fichter CD, Timme S, Braun JA, et al.
EGFR, HER2 and HER3 dimerization patterns guide targeted inhibition in two histotypes of esophageal cancer.
Int J Cancer. 2014; 135(7):1517-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are in the focus of targeted therapy for epithelial tumors. Our study addressed the role of EGFR, HER2 and HER3 expression and dimerization in esophageal cancers in situ and in vitro in the context of therapeutic EGFR and HER2 inhibitors. In archival pretreatment biopsies of esophageal carcinomas (n = 110), EGFR was preferentially expressed in esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs) (22.4%; p = 0.088) and HER2 (34.4%; p < 0.001) with HER3 (91.5%; p < 0.001) in esophageal (Barrett's) adenocarcinomas (EACs). In situ proximity ligation assays revealed mainly EGFR and HER2 homodimers in ESCC and EAC cases, respectively. However, EAC cases also exhibited HER2/HER3 heterodimers. In vitro ESCC (OE21) cells displayed a significant response to erlotinib, gefitinib and lapatinib, with loss of AKT phosphorylation, G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis. In EAC cells (OE19, OE33 and SK-GT-4), lapatinib was similarly effective in strongly HER2-positive (mainly HER2 homodimers and some HER2/EGFR heterodimers) OE19 and OE33 cells. The HER2-targeting antibodies (trastuzumab and pertuzumab) given alone were largely ineffective in ESCC and EAC cells. However, both antibodies significantly induced antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity in EAC (OE19 and OE33) cells upon co-culture with peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The study reveals that overexpression of EGFR and HER2 predominantly results in homodimers in ESCCs and EACs, respectively. Still, some EACs also show HER2 dimerization plasticity, e.g., with HER3. Such RTK dimerization patterns affect responses to EGFR and HER2 targeting inhibitors in ESCC and EAC cells in vitro and hence may influence future prediction for particularly HER2-targeting inhibitors in EACs.

Related: Apoptosis Cancer of the Esophagus Esophageal Cancer EGFR Erlotinib (Tarceva) Gefitinib (Iressa)

Mirkina I, Hadzijusufovic E, Krepler C, et al.
Phenotyping of human melanoma cells reveals a unique composition of receptor targets and a subpopulation co-expressing ErbB4, EPO-R and NGF-R.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(1):e84417 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/03/2015 Related Publications
Malignant melanoma is a life-threatening skin cancer increasingly diagnosed in the western world. In advanced disease the prognosis is grave. Growth and metastasis formation in melanomas are regulated by a network of cytokines, cytokine-receptors, and adhesion molecules. However, little is known about surface antigens and target expression profiles in human melanomas. We examined the cell surface antigen profile of human skin melanoma cells by multicolor flow cytometry, and compared their phenotype with 4 melanoma cell lines (A375, 607B, Mel-Juso, SK-Mel28). Melanoma cells were defined as CD45-/CD31- cells co-expressing one or more melanoma-related antigens (CD63, CD146, CD166). In most patients, melanoma cells exhibited ErbB3/Her3, CD44/Pgp-1, ICAM-1/CD54 and IGF-1-R/CD221, but did not express CD20, ErbB2/Her2, KIT/CD117, AC133/CD133 or MDR-1/CD243. Melanoma cell lines were found to display a similar phenotype. In most patients, a distinct subpopulation of melanoma cells (4-40%) expressed the erythropoietin receptor (EPO-R) and ErbB4 together with PD-1 and NGF-R/CD271. Both the EPO-R+ and EPO-R- subpopulations produced melanoma lesions in NOD/SCID IL-2Rgamma(null) (NSG) mice in first and secondary recipients. Normal skin melanocytes did not express ErbB4 or EPO-R, but expressed a functional KIT receptor (CD117) as well as NGF-R, ErbB3/Her3, IGF-1-R and CD44. In conclusion, melanoma cells display a unique composition of surface target antigens and cytokine receptors. Malignant transformation of melanomas is accompanied by loss of KIT and acquisition of EPO-R and ErbB4, both of which are co-expressed with NGF-R and PD-1 in distinct subfractions of melanoma cells. However, expression of EPO-R/ErbB4/PD-1 is not indicative of a selective melanoma-initiating potential.

Related: Melanoma Skin Cancer PDCD1 ERBB4 (HER4)

Grabinski N, Möllmann K, Milde-Langosch K, et al.
AKT3 regulates ErbB2, ErbB3 and estrogen receptor α expression and contributes to endocrine therapy resistance of ErbB2(+) breast tumor cells from Balb-neuT mice.
Cell Signal. 2014; 26(5):1021-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
ErbB2(+) breast cancer is an aggressive breast cancer subtype generally associated with lower estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) expression and more aggressive tumor behavior compared to ERα(+)/ErbB2(-) breast cancer. The ErbB2(+) phenotype is associated with resistance to endocrine therapy, e.g. the selective estrogen receptor modulator Tamoxifen. However, the mechanisms underlying endocrine resistance are not fully understood. Here, we investigated the impact of AKT signaling and distinct functional roles of AKT isoforms in ErbB2(+) breast cancer from Balb-neuT mice. AKT isoform specific in vitro kinase assays revealed that AKT3 is activated in Balb-neuT breast tumors in comparison to normal murine breast tissue. Knock-down of AKT3, but not of AKT1 or AKT2, led to reduced expression and tyrosine-phosphorylation of ErbB2 and ErbB3 in Balb-neuT-derived mammary tumor cells. In contrast, expression of ERα was strongly up-regulated and phosphorylation of the AKT substrate Foxo3a which regulates ERα transcription was decreased in AKT3 knockdown cells. These data suggest that ERα expression is down regulated via AKT3/Foxo3a signaling in ErbB2(+) breast cancer cells. Furthermore, up-regulation of ERα after depletion of AKT3 resulted in a significant increase in Tamoxifen responsiveness of Balb-neuT-derived mammary tumor cells. In addition, Tamoxifen resistant human breast cancer cell lines showed increased AKT3 expression and activity in comparison to Tamoxifen responsive MCF-7 cells. Finally, by AKT isoform specific in vitro kinase assays of human breast cancer samples, AKT3 activity was detected in ErbB2(+) and triple negative tumors but not in ERα(+) breast cancer. Our data indicate that AKT3 regulates the expression of ErbB2, ErbB3 and ERα and demonstrate that down-regulation of activated AKT3 can sensitize ErbB2(+) breast cancer cells for treatment with Tamoxifen. Therefore, AKT3 targeting might be a new promising strategy for therapy of ErbB2(+)/ERα(-) breast cancer and might further increase the responsiveness to an endocrine therapy approach.

Related: Breast Cancer AKT1

Gärtner S, Gunesch A, Knyazeva T, et al.
PTK 7 is a transforming gene and prognostic marker for breast cancer and nodal metastasis involvement.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(1):e84472 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/03/2015 Related Publications
Protein Tyrosin Kinase 7 (PTK7) is upregulated in several human cancers; however, its clinical implication in breast cancer (BC) and lymph node (LN) is still unclear. In order to investigate the function of PTK7 in mediating BC cell motility and invasivity, PTK7 expression in BC cell lines was determined. PTK7 signaling in highly invasive breast cancer cells was inhibited by a dominant-negative PTK7 mutant, an antibody against the extracellular domain of PTK7, and siRNA knockdown of PTK7. This resulted in decreased motility and invasivity of BC cells. We further examined PTK7 expression in BC and LN tissue of 128 BC patients by RT-PCR and its correlation with BC related genes like HER2, HER3, PAI1, MMP1, K19, and CD44. Expression profiling in BC cell lines and primary tumors showed association of PTK7 with ER/PR/HER2-negative (TNBC-triple negative BC) cancer. Oncomine data analysis confirmed this observation and classified PTK7 in a cluster with genes associated with agressive behavior of primary BC. Furthermore PTK7 expression was significantly different with respect to tumor size (ANOVA, p = 0.033) in BC and nodal involvement (ANOVA, p = 0.007) in LN. PTK7 expression in metastatic LN was related to shorter DFS (Cox Regression, p = 0.041). Our observations confirmed the transforming potential of PTK7, as well as its involvement in motility and invasivity of BC cells. PTK7 is highly expressed in TNBC cell lines. It represents a novel prognostic marker for BC patients and has potential therapeutic significance.

Related: Breast Cancer Male Breast Cancer

Kurrle N, Ockenga W, Meister M, et al.
Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase dependent upregulation of the epidermal growth factor receptor upon Flotillin-1 depletion in breast cancer cells.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:575 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/03/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Flotillin-1 and flotillin-2 are two homologous and ubiquitously expressed proteins that are involved in signal transduction and membrane trafficking. Recent studies have reported that flotillins promote breast cancer progression, thus making them interesting targets for breast cancer treatment. In the present study, we have investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms of flotillins in breast cancer.
METHODS: Human adenocarcinoma MCF7 breast cancer cells were stably depleted of flotillins by means of lentivirus mediated short hairpin RNAs. Western blotting, immunofluorescence and quantitative real-time PCR were used to analyze the expression of proteins of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family. Western blotting was used to investigate the effect of EGFR stimulation or inhibition as well as phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibition on mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. Rescue experiments were performed by stable transfection of RNA intereference resistant flotillin proteins.
RESULTS: We here show that stable knockdown of flotillin-1 in MCF7 cells resulted in upregulation of EGFR mRNA and protein expression and hyperactivation of MAPK signaling, whereas ErbB2 and ErbB3 expression were not affected. Treatment of the flotillin knockdown cells with an EGFR inhibitor reduced the MAPK signaling, demonstrating that the increased EGFR expression and activity is the cause of the increased signaling. Stable ectopic expression of flotillins in the knockdown cells reduced the increased EGFR expression, demonstrating a direct causal relationship between flotillin-1 expression and EGFR amount. Furthermore, the upregulation of EGFR was dependent on the PI3K signaling pathway which is constitutively active in MCF7 cells, and PI3K inhibition resulted in reduced EGFR expression.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that flotillins may not be suitable as cancer therapy targets in cells that carry certain other oncogenic mutations such as PI3K activating mutations, as unexpected effects are prone to emerge upon flotillin knockdown which may even facilitate cancer cell growth and proliferation.

Related: Breast Cancer EGFR

Salt MB, Bandyopadhyay S, McCormick F
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition rewires the molecular path to PI3K-dependent proliferation.
Cancer Discov. 2014; 4(2):186-99 [PubMed] Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Tumors showing evidence of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) have been associated with metastasis, drug resistance, and poor prognosis. Heterogeneity along the EMT spectrum is observed between and within tumors. To develop effective therapeutics, a mechanistic understanding of how EMT affects the molecular requirements for proliferation is needed. We found that although cells use phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) for proliferation in both the epithelial and mesenchymal states, EMT rewires the mechanism of PI3K pathway activation. In epithelial cells, autocrine ERBB3 activation maintains PI3K signaling, whereas after EMT, downregulation of ERBB3 disrupts autocrine signaling to PI3K. Loss of ERBB3 leads to reduced serum-independent proliferation after EMT that can be rescued through reactivation of PI3K by enhanced signaling from p110α, ERBB3 reexpression, or growth factor stimulation. In vivo, we demonstrate that PIK3CA expression is upregulated in mesenchymal tumors with low levels of ERBB3. This study defines how ERBB3 downregulation after EMT affects PI3K-dependent proliferation.
SIGNIFICANCE: This study describes a mechanism through which EMT transition alters the proliferative potential of cells by modulating ERBB3 expression. Furthermore, it demonstrates the potential for multiple molecular routes to drive proliferation in different cell states, illustrating how changes in EMT status can rewire signaling upstream of cell proliferation.

Related: Lung Cancer AKT1 Signal Transduction

Lédel F, Hallström M, Ragnhammar P, et al.
HER3 expression in patients with primary colorectal cancer and corresponding lymph node metastases related to clinical outcome.
Eur J Cancer. 2014; 50(3):656-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: To evaluate the expression and prognostic value of the epidermal growth factor receptor HER3 in patients with primary colorectal cancer (CRC) and corresponding lymph node metastases.
PATIENT AND METHODS: HER3 expression was analysed immunohistochemically (IHC) in primary tumours and in corresponding lymph node metastases from 236 patients with stage II and III CRC. In 58 primary tumours, fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) detection was performed.
RESULTS: HER3 was detected at high frequency in the cell membrane. Seventy percent of the primary tumours had a high HER3 expression compared to 75% in the lymph node metastases. HER3 expression in the primary tumour was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival in the entire group of patients (p=0.026) and in the subgroup of patients with colon cancer stage II (p=0.030). A high HER3 expression in the primary tumour was associated with worse clinical outcome. The expression of HER3 was homogenous within the primary tumour (r=0.9, p<0.0001) and correlated with the HER3 expression in corresponding lymph node metastases (r=0.6, p<0.0001). No gene amplification with respect to HER3 was seen in primary tumours using FISH analysis.
CONCLUSION: A high HER3 expression was found in 70% of the primary CRC tumours and in 75% of the corresponding lymph node metastases. HER3 expression in the tumour was an independent prognostic factor, where a high HER3 expression was associated with worse clinical outcome. There was a correlation in HER3 expression between primary tumour and corresponding lymph node metastases.

Related: Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer FISH

Huang RY, Wong MK, Tan TZ, et al.
An EMT spectrum defines an anoikis-resistant and spheroidogenic intermediate mesenchymal state that is sensitive to e-cadherin restoration by a src-kinase inhibitor, saracatinib (AZD0530).
Cell Death Dis. 2013; 4:e915 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/03/2015 Related Publications
The phenotypic transformation of well-differentiated epithelial carcinoma into a mesenchymal-like state provides cancer cells with the ability to disseminate locally and to metastasise. Different degrees of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) have been found to occur in carcinomas from breast, colon and ovarian carcinoma (OC), among others. Numerous studies have focused on bona fide epithelial and mesenchymal states but rarely on intermediate states. In this study, we describe a model system for appraising the spectrum of EMT using 43 well-characterised OC cell lines. Phenotypic EMT characterisation reveals four subgroups: Epithelial, Intermediate E, Intermediate M and Mesenchymal, which represent different epithelial-mesenchymal compositions along the EMT spectrum. In cell-based EMT-related functional studies, OC cells harbouring an Intermediate M phenotype are characterised by high N-cadherin and ZEB1 expression and low E-cadherin and ERBB3/HER3 expression and are more anoikis-resistant and spheroidogenic. A specific Src-kinase inhibitor, Saracatinib (AZD0530), restores E-cadherin expression in Intermediate M cells in in vitro and in vivo models and abrogates spheroidogenesis. We show how a 33-gene EMT Signature can sub-classify an OC cohort into four EMT States correlating with progression-free survival (PFS). We conclude that the characterisation of intermediate EMT states provides a new approach to better define EMT. The concept of the EMT Spectrum allows the utilisation of EMT genes as predictive markers and the design and application of therapeutic targets for reversing EMT in a selective subgroup of patients.

Related: Ovarian Cancer

Wang S, Huang J, Lyu H, et al.
Therapeutic targeting of erbB3 with MM-121/SAR256212 enhances antitumor activity of paclitaxel against erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res. 2013; 15(5):R101 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/03/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Elevated expression of erbB3 rendered erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells resistant to paclitaxel via PI-3 K/Akt-dependent upregulation of Survivin. It is unclear whether an erbB3-targeted therapy may abrogate erbB2-mediated paclitaxel resistance in breast cancer. Here, we study the antitumor activity of an anti-erbB3 antibody MM-121/SAR256212 in combination with paclitaxel against erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer.
METHODS: Cell growth assays were used to determine cell viability. Cells undergoing apoptosis were quantified by a specific apoptotic ELISA. Western blot analyses were performed to assess the protein expression and activation. Lentiviral vector containing shRNA was used to specifically knockdown Survivin. Tumor xenografts were established by inoculation of BT474-HR20 cells into nude mice. The tumor-bearing mice were treated with paclitaxel and/or MM-121/SAR256212 to determine whether the antibody (Ab) enhances paclitaxel’s antitumor activity. Immunohistochemistry was carried out to study the combinatorial effects on tumor cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis in vivo.
RESULTS: MM-121 significantly facilitated paclitaxel-mediated anti-proliferative/anti-survival effects on SKBR3 cells transfected with a control vector or erbB3 cDNA. It specifically downregulated Survivin associated with inactivation of erbB2, erbB3, and Akt. MM-121 enhances paclitaxel-induced poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, activation of caspase-8 and −3, and apoptosis in both paclitaxel-sensitive and -resistant cells. Specific knockdown of Survivin in the trastuzumab-resistant BT474-HR20 cells dramatically enhanced paclitaxel-induced apoptosis, suggesting that increased Survivin caused a cross-resistance to paclitaxel. Furthermore, the studies using a tumor xenograft model-established from BT474-HR20 cells revealed that either MM-121 (10 mg/kg) or low-dose (7.5 mg/kg) paclitaxel had no effect on tumor growth, their combinations significantly inhibited tumor growth in vivo. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that the combinations of MM-121 and paclitaxel significantly reduced the cells with positive staining for Ki-67 and Survivin, and increased the cells with cleaved caspase-3.
CONCLUSIONS: The combinations of MM-121 and paclitaxel not only inhibit tumor cell proliferation, but also promote erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells to undergo apoptosis via downregulation of Survivin in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that inactivation of erbB3 with MM-121 enhances paclitaxel-mediated antitumor activity against erbB2-overexpressing breast cancers. Our data supports further exploration of the combinatorial regimens consisting of MM-121 and paclitaxel in breast cancer patients with erbB2-overexpressing tumors, particularly those resistant to paclitaxel.

Related: Monoclonal Antibodies Apoptosis Breast Cancer Paclitaxel BIRC5 Trastuzumab (Herceptin)

Yoon HH, Sukov WR, Shi Q, et al.
HER-2/neu gene amplification in relation to expression of HER2 and HER3 proteins in patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Cancer. 2014; 120(3):415-24 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is a therapeutic target in patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), with gene amplification used as a selection criterion for treatment, although to the authors' knowledge the concordance between amplification and HER2 protein expression remains undefined in EAC. Furthermore, the association between HER2 and its interacting partner, human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3), is unknown yet appears to be of potential therapeutic relevance.
METHODS: Patients with untreated EACs (N = 673) were analyzed for HER2 amplification and polysomy 17 by fluorescence in situ hybridization in parallel with immunohistochemistry (IHC) (IHC scores of 0-1+, 2+, and 3+). Amplification was defined as HER2/CEP17 ≥ 2. HER3 expression by IHC was analyzed in randomly selected cases (n = 224). IHC and fluorescence in situ hybridization results were compared using least squares linear regression.
RESULTS: Overall, 17% of the EACs (116 of 673 EACs) were HER2-amplified with an amplification frequency that was highest among IHC3+ cases (89%) and declined among IHC2+ cases (13%) and IHC0 to IHC1+ cases (4%). Among HER2-amplified cases, the level of amplification increased linearly with HER2 membranous expression (HER2/CEP17 ratio: 7.9 in IHC3+ and 5.5 in IHC2+ vs 2.8 in IHC0 to IHC1+ [P < .0001]), with 14% of amplified tumors demonstrating absent/faint expression (IHC0 to IHC1+). Polysomy 17 was not found to be associated with HER2 expression. Cytoplasmic HER3 expression was detected in 87% of tumors (195 of 224 tumors) and was found to be significantly associated with better differentiation (P < .0001). Stepwise increases in HER3 expression were associated with higher HER2 expression levels (P = .0019).
CONCLUSIONS: Levels of HER2 protein expression and amplification were found to be linearly associated and highly concordant. Among amplified tumors with absent/faint expression, the level of amplification was low. Frequent expression of HER3 suggests its relevance as a therapeutic target, and its significant association with HER2 supports ongoing efforts to inhibit HER2/HER3 in patients with EAC.

Related: Cancer of the Esophagus Esophageal Cancer

Wang Z, Liao H, Deng Z, et al.
miRNA-205 affects infiltration and metastasis of breast cancer.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013; 441(1):139-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: An increasing number of studies have shown that miRNAs are commonly deregulated in human malignancies, but little is known about the function of miRNA-205 (miR-205) in human breast cancer. The present study investigated the influence of miR-205 on breast cancer malignancy.
METHODS: The expression level of miR-205 in the MCF7 breast cancer cell line was determined by quantitative (q)RT-PCR. We then analyzed the expression of miR-205 in breast cancer and paired non-tumor tissues. Finally, the roles of miR-205 in regulating tumor proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and target gene expression were studied by MTT assay, flow cytometry, qRT-PCR, Western blotting and luciferase assay.
RESULTS: miR-205 was downregulated in breast cancer cells or tissues compared with normal breast cell lines or non-tumor tissues. Overexpression of miR-205 reduced the growth and colony-formation capacity of MCF7 cells by inducing apoptosis. Overexpression of miR-205 inhibited MCF7 cell migration and invasiveness. By bioinformation analysis, miR-205 was predicted to bind to the 3' untranslated regions of human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)3 mRNA, and upregulation of miR-205 reduced HER3 protein expression.
CONCLUSION: miR-205 is a tumor suppressor in human breast cancer by post-transcriptional inhibition of HER3 expression.

Related: Apoptosis Breast Cancer

Anandappa G, Turner NC
Targeting receptor tyrosine kinases in HER2-negative breast cancer.
Curr Opin Oncol. 2013; 25(6):594-601 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The targeting of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) has been a major area for breast cancer therapy, exemplified by the targeting of HER2-amplified breast cancer.
RECENT FINDINGS: We review the data on the activation of RTKs in HER2-negative breast cancer, and discuss the clinical translational challenge of identifying cancers that are reliant on a specific kinase for growth and survival. Substantial evidence suggests that subsets of breast cancer may be reliant on specific kinases, and that this could be exploited therapeutically. The heterogeneity of breast cancer, however, and the potential for adaptive switching between RTKs after inhibition of a single RTK, present challenges to targeting individual RTKs in the clinic
SUMMARY: Targeting of RTKs in HER2-negative breast cancer presents a major therapeutic opportunity in breast cancer, although robust selection strategies will be required to identify cancers with activation of specific RTKs if this potential is to be realized.

Related: Breast Cancer Signal Transduction Gefitinib (Iressa)

Li Q, Yuan Z, Cao B
The function of human epidermal growth factor receptor-3 and its role in tumors (Review).
Oncol Rep. 2013; 30(6):2563-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Human epidermal growth factor receptor-3 (HER-3) is the third member of the HER family. It was previously considered not to contain tyrosine kinase activity and catalytic activity and the intracellular region of HER-3 could not bind ATP and be auto-phosphorylated. Thus, the clinical value of HER-3 was ignored. Currently, biochemical analysis has confirmed that the kinase domain of HER-3 is a specific allosteric activator; it acts as a functional activator to activate the recipient kinase (HER-1, HER-2, HER-4). With the in-depth knowledge of its structure and function, studies on the relationship of HER-3 and human tumors are rapidly increasing. HER-3 is closely related to tumorigenesis, progression and metastasis. HER-3 is involved in resistance to targeted therapy, and may serve as a new therapeutic target. The expression of HER-3 helps to predict prognosis and treatment efficacy. HER-3 has become a focus of concern in the HER family and has gained significant attention in the search for cancer treatment.

Related: Breast Cancer

Hart MR, Su HY, Broka D, et al.
Inactive ERBB receptors cooperate with reactive oxygen species to suppress cancer progression.
Mol Ther. 2013; 21(11):1996-2007 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
The ERBB receptors are a family of heterodimerization partners capable of driving transformation and metastasis. While the therapeutic targeting of single receptors has proven efficacious, optimal targeting of this receptor family should target all oncogenic members simultaneously. The juxtamembrane domains of ERBB1, ERBB2, and ERBB3 are highly conserved and control various aspects of ERBB-dependent biology. In an effort to block those functions, we have targeted this domain with decoy peptides synthesized in tandem with a cell-penetrating peptide, termed EJ1. Treatment with EJ1 induces cell death, promotes the formation of inactive ERBB multimers, and results in simultaneous reduction of ERBB1, ERBB2, and ERBB3 activation. Treatment also results in the activation of myosin light chain-dependent cell blebbing while inactivating CaMKII signaling, coincident with the induction of cell death. EJ1 also directly translocates to mitochondria, correlating with a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and production of reactive oxygen species. Finally, treatment of a mouse model of breast cancer with EJ1 results in the inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis without associated toxicities in normal cells. Overall, these data demonstrate that a portion of the ERBB jxm domain, when used as an intracellular decoy, can inhibit tumor growth and metastasis, representing a novel anticancer therapeutic.

Related: Apoptosis Lung Cancer Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Signal Transduction

Machleidt A, Buchholz S, Diermeier-Daucher S, et al.
The prognostic value of Her4 receptor isoform expression in triple-negative and Her2 positive breast cancer patients.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:437 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Not only four but rather seven different human epidermal growth factor receptor related (Her) receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) have been described to be expressed in a variety of normal and neoplastic tissues: Her1, Her2, Her3, and additionally four Her4 isoforms have been identified. A differential expression of Her4 isoforms does not, however, play any role in either the molecular diagnostics or treatment decision for breast cancer patients. The prognostic and predictive impact of Her4 expression in breast cancer is basically unclear.
METHODS: We quantified the Her4 variants JM-a/CYT1, JM-a/CYT2, JM-b/CYT1, and JM-b/CYT2 by isoform-specific polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) in (i) triple-negative, (ii) Her2 positive breast cancer tissues and (iii) in benign breast tissues.
RESULTS: In all three tissue collectives we never found the JM-b/CYT1 or the JM-b/CYT2 isoform expressed. In contrast, the two JM-a/CYT1 and JM-a/CYT2 isoforms were always simultaneously expressed but at different ratios. We identified a positive prognostic impact on overall survival (OS) in triple-negative and event-free survival (EFS) in Her2 positive patients. This finding is independent of the absolute JM-a/CYT1 to JM-a/CYT2 expression ratio. In Her2 positive patients, Her4 expression only has a favorable effect in estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive but not in ER-negative individuals.
CONCLUSION: In summary, JM-a/CYT1 and JM-a/CYT2 but not JM-b isoforms of the Her4 receptor are simultaneously expressed in both triple-negative and Her2 positive breast cancer tissues. Although different expression ratios of the two JM-a isoforms did not reveal any additional information, Her4 expression basically indicates a prolonged EFS and OFS. An extended expression analysis that takes all Her receptor homologs, including the Her4 isoforms, into account might render more precisely the molecular diagnostics required for the development of optimized targeted therapies.

Related: Breast Cancer ERBB4 (HER4)

Wadhwa R, Song S, Lee JS, et al.
Gastric cancer-molecular and clinical dimensions.
Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2013; 10(11):643-55 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Gastric cancer imposes a considerable health burden around the globe despite its declining incidence. The disease is often diagnosed in advanced stages and is associated with a poor prognosis for patients. An in-depth understanding of the molecular underpinnings of gastric cancer has lagged behind many other cancers of similar incidence and morbidity, owing to our limited knowledge of germline susceptibility traits for risk and somatic drivers of progression (to identify novel therapeutic targets). A few germline (PLCE1) and somatic (ERBB2, ERBB3, PTEN, PI3K/AKT/mTOR, FGF, TP53, CDH1 and MET) alterations are emerging and some are being pursued clinically. Novel somatic gene targets (ARID1A, FAT4, MLL and KMT2C) have also been identified and are of interest. Variations in the therapeutic approaches dependent on geographical region are evident for localized gastric cancer-differences that are driven by preferences for the adjuvant strategies and the extent of surgery coupled with philosophical divides. However, greater uniformity in approach has been noted in the metastatic cancer setting, an incurable condition. Having realized only modest successes, momentum is building for carrying out more phase III comparative trials, with some using biomarker-based patient selection strategies. Overall, rapid progress in biotechnology is improving our molecular understanding and can help with new drug discovery. The future prospects are excellent for defining biomarker-based subsets of patients and application of specific therapeutics. However, many challenges remain to be tackled. Here, we review representative molecular and clinical dimensions of gastric cancer.

Related: Stomach Cancer Gastric Cancer

Zou Z, Bellenger S, Massey KA, et al.
Inhibition of the HER2 pathway by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids prevents breast cancer in fat-1 transgenic mice.
J Lipid Res. 2013; 54(12):3453-63 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Overexpression of the tyrosine kinase receptor, ErbB2/HER2/Neu, occurs in 25-30% of invasive breast cancer (BC) with poor patient prognosis. Due to confounding factors, inconsistencies still remain regarding the protective effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on BC. We therefore evaluated whether fat-1 transgenic mice, endogenously synthesizing n-3 PUFAs from n-6 PUFAs, were protected against BC development, and we then aimed to study in vivo a mechanism potentially involved in such protection. E0771 BC cells were implanted into fat-1 and wild-type (WT) mice. After tumorigenesis examination, we analyzed the expression of proteins involved in the HER2 signaling pathway and lipidomic analyses were performed in tumor tissues and plasma. Our results showed that tumors totally disappeared by day 15 in fat-1 mice but continued to grow in WT mice. This prevention can be related in part to significant repression of the HER2/β-catenin signaling pathway and formation of significant levels of n-3 PUFA-derived bioactive mediators (particularly 15-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid, 17-hydroxydocosahexaenoic acid, and prostaglandin E3) in the tumors of fat-1 mice compared with WT mice. All together these data demonstrate an anti-BC effect of n-3 PUFAs through, at least in part, HER2 signaling pathway downregulation, and highlight the importance of gene-diet interactions in BC.

Related: Breast Cancer Signal Transduction

Xia W, Petricoin EF, Zhao S, et al.
An heregulin-EGFR-HER3 autocrine signaling axis can mediate acquired lapatinib resistance in HER2+ breast cancer models.
Breast Cancer Res. 2013; 15(5):R85 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) oncogene is an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of HER2-addicted tumors. Although lapatinib, an FDA-approved small-molecule HER2 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), represents a significant therapeutic advancement in the treatment of HER2+ breast cancers, responses to lapatinib have not been durable. Consequently, elucidation of mechanisms of acquired therapeutic resistance to HER-directed therapies is of critical importance.
METHODS: Using a functional protein-pathway activation mapping strategy, along with targeted genomic knockdowns applied to a series of isogenic-matched pairs of lapatinib-sensitive and resistant cell lines, we now report an unexpected mechanism of acquired resistance to lapatinib and similar TKIs.
RESULTS: The signaling analysis revealed that whereas HER2 was appropriately inhibited in lapatinib-resistant cells, EGFR tyrosine phosphorylation was incompletely inhibited. Using a targeted molecular knockdown approach to interrogate the causal molecular underpinnings of EGFR-persistent activation, we found that lapatinib-resistant cells were no longer oncogene addicted to HER2-HER3-PI3K signaling, as seen in the parental lapatinib-sensitive cell lines, but instead were dependent on a heregulin (HRG)-driven HER3-EGFR-PI3K-PDK1 signaling axis. Two FDA-approved EGFR TKIs could not overcome HRG-HER3-mediated activation of EGFR, or reverse lapatinib resistance. The ability to overcome EGFR-mediated acquired therapeutic resistance to lapatinib was demonstrated through molecular knockdown of EGFR and treatment with the irreversible pan-HER TKI neratinib, which blocked HRG-dependent phosphorylation of HER3 and EGFR, resulting in apoptosis of resistant cells. In addition, whereas HRG reversed lapatinib-mediated antitumor effects in parental HER2+ breast cancer cells, neratinib was comparatively resistant to the effects of HRG in parental cells. Finally, we showed that HRG expression is an independent negative predictor of clinical outcome in HER2+ breast cancers, providing potential clinical relevance to our findings.
CONCLUSIONS: Molecular analysis of acquired therapeutic resistance to lapatinib identified a new resistance mechanism based on incomplete and "leaky" inhibition of EGFR by lapatinib. The selective pressure applied by incomplete inhibition of the EGFR drug target resulted in selection of ligand-driven feedback that sustained EGFR activation in the face of constant exposure to the drug. Inadequate target inhibition driven by a ligand-mediated autocrine feedback loop may represent a broader mechanism of therapeutic resistance to HER TKIs and suggests adopting a different strategy for selecting more effective TKIs to advance into the clinic.

Related: Breast Cancer AKT1 MET gene Signal Transduction Lapatinib (Tyverb)

Morrison MM, Hutchinson K, Williams MM, et al.
ErbB3 downregulation enhances luminal breast tumor response to antiestrogens.
J Clin Invest. 2013; 123(10):4329-43 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Aberrant regulation of the erythroblastosis oncogene B (ErbB) family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and their ligands is common in human cancers. ErbB3 is required in luminal mammary epithelial cells (MECs) for growth and survival. Since breast cancer phenotypes may reflect biological traits of the MECs from which they originate, we tested the hypothesis that ErbB3 drives luminal breast cancer growth. We found higher ERBB3 expression and more frequent ERBB3 gene copy gains in luminal A/B breast cancers compared with other breast cancer subtypes. In cell culture, ErbB3 increased growth of luminal breast cancer cells. Targeted depletion of ErbB3 with an anti-ErbB3 antibody decreased 3D colony growth, increased apoptosis, and decreased tumor growth in vivo. Treatment of clinical breast tumors with the antiendocrine drug fulvestrant resulted in increased ErbB3 expression and PI3K/mTOR signaling. Depletion of ErbB3 in fulvestrant-treated tumor cells reduced PI3K/mTOR signaling, thus decreasing tumor cell survival and tumor growth. Fulvestrant treatment increased phosphorylation of all ErbB family RTKs; however, phospho-RTK upregulation was not seen in tumors treated with both fulvestrant and anti-ErbB3. These data indicate that upregulation of ErbB3 in luminal breast cancer cells promotes growth, survival, and resistance to fulvestrant, thus suggesting ErbB3 as a target for breast cancer treatment.

Related: Monoclonal Antibodies Breast Cancer Signal Transduction

Li C, Brand TM, Iida M, et al.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3) blockade with U3-1287/AMG888 enhances the efficacy of radiation therapy in lung and head and neck carcinoma.
Discov Med. 2013; 16(87):79-92 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
HER3 is a member of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family of receptor tyrosine kinases. In the present study, we investigated the capacity of the HER3 blocking antibody, U3-1287/AMG888, to modulate the in vitro and in vivo radiation response of human squamous cell carcinomas of the lung and head and neck. We screened a battery of cell lines from these tumors for HER3 expression and demonstrated that all cell lines screened exhibited expression of HER3. Importantly, U3-1287/AMG888 treatment could block both basal HER3 activity and radiation induced HER3 activation. Proliferation assays indicated that HER3 blockade could decrease the proliferation of both HNSCC cell line SCC6 and NSCLC cell line H226. Further, we demonstrated that U3-1287/AMG888 can sensitize cells to radiation in clonogenic survival assays, in addition to increasing DNA damage as detected via λ-H2AX immunofluorescence. To determine if U3-1287/AMG888 could enhance radiation sensitivity in vivo we performed tumor growth delay experiments using SCC6, SCC1483, and H226 xenografts. The results of these experiments indicated that the combination of U3-1287/AMG888 and radiation could decrease tumor growth in studies using single or fractionated doses of radiation. Analysis of HER3 expression in tumor samples indicated that radiation treatment activated HER3 in vivo and that U3-1287/AMG888 could abrogate this activation. Immunohistochemistry analysis of SCC6 tumors treated with both U3-1287/AMG888 and a single dose of radiation demonstrated that various cell survival and proliferation markers could be reduced. Collectively our findings suggest that U3-1287/AMG888 in combination with radiation has an impact on cell and tumor growth by increasing DNA damage and cell death. These findings suggest that HER3 may play an important role in response to radiation therapy and blocking its activity in combination with radiation may be of therapeutic benefit in human tumors.

Related: Monoclonal Antibodies Head and Neck Cancers Head and Neck Cancers - Molecular Biology Lung Cancer

Flågeng MH, Knappskog S, Haynes BP, et al.
Inverse regulation of EGFR/HER1 and HER2-4 in normal and malignant human breast tissue.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(8):e74618 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Cross-talk between the estrogen and the EGFR/HER signalling pathways has been suggested as a potential cause of resistance to endocrine therapy in breast cancer. Here, we determined HER1-4 receptor and neuregulin-1 (NRG1) ligand mRNA expression levels in breast cancers and corresponding normal breast tissue from patients previously characterized for plasma and tissue estrogen levels. In tumours from postmenopausal women harbouring normal HER2 gene copy numbers, we found HER2 and HER4, but HER3 levels in particular, to be elevated (2.48, 1.30 and 22.27 -fold respectively; P<0.01 for each) compared to normal tissue. Interestingly, HER3 as well as HER4 were higher among ER+ as compared to ER- tumours (P=0.004 and P=0.024, respectively). HER2 and HER3 expression levels correlated positively with ER mRNA (ESR1) expression levels (r=0.525, P=0.044; r=0.707, P=0.003, respectively). In contrast, EGFR/HER1 was downregulated in tumour compared to normal tissue (0.13-fold, P<0.001). In addition, EGFR/HER1 correlated negatively to intra-tumour (r=-0.633, P=0.001) as well as normal tissue (r=-0.556, P=0.006) and plasma estradiol levels (r=-0.625, P=0.002), suggesting an inverse regulation between estradiol and EGFR/HER1 levels. In ER+ tumours from postmenopausal women, NRG1 levels correlated positively with EGFR/HER1 (r=0.606, P=0.002) and negatively to ESR1 (r=-0.769, P=0.003) and E2 levels (r=-0.542, P=0.020). Our results indicate influence of estradiol on the expression of multiple components of the HER system in tumours not amplified for HER2, adding further support to the hypothesis that cross-talk between these systems may be of importance to breast cancer growth in vivo.

Related: Breast Cancer ERBB2 (HER2) ERBB4 (HER4)

Mei Y, Zhang P, Zuo H, et al.
Ebp1 activates podoplanin expression and contributes to oral tumorigenesis.
Oncogene. 2014; 33(29):3839-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
Podoplanin is highly expressed in human cancers. However, mechanisms regulating podoplanin expression remain elusive. Here we show that podoplanin promotes tumorigenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and precancerous cells both in vitro and in vivo, and the ErbB3-binding protein-1 (Ebp1) can be activated in oral tumorigenesis and can serve as a transcriptional activator to drive podoplanin expression in the malignant progression. Most of the OSCC cell lines have no detectable podoplanin protein in low-density cultures. However, the protein becomes detectable in high-density cultures and is required for in-vivo tumor formation of OSCC and oral premalignancies. In a high-density culture condition, podoplanin expression can be triggered at both mRNA and protein levels. In this condition, we showed that Ebp1 is upregulated, translocated from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and binds to the podoplanin promoter to result in a dramatic increase of podoplanin mRNA and protein. Ebp1 downregulation significantly reduced podoplanin expression levels in OSCC cells with a decreased anchorage-dependent growth, invasion and wound healing. Conversely, Ebp1 overexpression enhanced these malignant features through podoplanin upregulation both in vitro and in vivo. In 81 patients with oral premalignant lesions, we found that Ebp1 expression is strongly related to OSCC development. We conclude that Ebp1 has a key role in the upregulation of podoplanin and may contribute to oral tumorigenesis.

Related: Oral Cancer

Lipton A, Goodman L, Leitzel K, et al.
HER3, p95HER2, and HER2 protein expression levels define multiple subtypes of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013; 141(1):43-53 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Trastuzumab is effective in the treatment of HER2/neu over-expressing breast cancer, but not all patients benefit from it. In vitro data suggest a role for HER3 in the initiation of signaling activity involving the AKT–mTOR pathway leading to trastuzumab insensitivity. We sought to investigate the potential of HER3 alone and in the context of p95HER2 (p95), a trastuzumab resistance marker, as biomarkers of trastuzumab escape. Using the VeraTag® assay platform, we developed a dual antibody proximity-based assay for the precise quantitation of HER3 total protein (H3T) from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) breast tumors. We then measured H3T in 89 patients with metastatic breast cancer treated with trastuzumab-based therapy, and correlated the results with progression-free survival and overall survival using Kaplan–Meier and decision tree analyses that also included HER2 total (H2T) and p95 expression levels. Within the sub-population of patients that over-expressed HER2, high levels of HER3 and/or p95 protein expression were significantly associated with poor clinical outcomes on trastuzumab-based therapy. Based on quantitative H3T, p95, and H2T measurements, multiple subtypes of HER2-positive breast cancer were identified that differ in their outcome following trastuzumab therapy. These data suggest that HER3 and p95 are informative biomarkers of clinical outcomes on trastuzumab therapy, and that multiple subtypes of HER2-positive breast cancer may be defined by quantitative measurements of H3T, p95, and H2T.

Related: Monoclonal Antibodies ERBB2 (HER2) Trastuzumab (Herceptin)


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