The present studies have examined approaches to suppress MCL-1 function in breast cancer cells, as a means to promote tumor cell death. Treatment of breast cancer cells with CDK inhibitors (flavopiridol; roscovitine) enhanced the lethality of the ERBB1 inhibitor lapatinib in a synergistic fashion. CDK inhibitors interacted with lapatinib to reduce MCL-1 expression and overexpression of MCL-1 or knock down of BAX and BAK suppressed drug combination lethality. Lapatinib-mediated inhibition of ERK1/2 and to a lesser extent AKT facilitated CDK inhibitor-induced suppression of MCL-1 levels. Treatment of cells with the BH3 domain/MCL-1 inhibitor obatoclax enhanced the lethality of lapatinib in a synergistic fashion. Knock out of MCL-1 and BCL-XL enhanced lapatinib toxicity to a similar extent as obatoclax and suppressed the ability of obatoclax to promote lapatinib lethality. Pre-treatment of cells with lapatinib or with obatoclax enhanced basal levels of BAX and BAK activity and further enhanced drug combination toxicity. In vivo tumor growth data in xenograft and syngeneic model systems confirmed our in vitro findings. Treatment of cells with CDK inhibitors enhanced the lethality of obatoclax in a synergistic fashion. Overexpression of MCL-1 or knock down of BAX and BAK suppressed the toxic interaction between CDK inhibitors and obatoclax. Obatoclax and lapatinib treatment or obatoclax and CDK inhibitor treatment or lapatinib and CDK inhibitor treatment radiosensitized breast cancer cells. Lapatinib and obatoclax interacted to suppress mammary tumor growth in vivo. Collectively our data demonstrate that manipulation of MCL-1 protein expression by CDK inhibition or inhibition of MCL-1 sequestering function by Obatoclax renders breast cancer cells more susceptible to BAX/BAK-dependent mitochondrial dysfunction and tumor cell death.
MCL-1; Lapatinib; Obatoclax; Flavopiridol; Roscovitine; CDK inhibitor; RTK inhibitor; BCL-2 inhibitor; BAK
The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors play an important role in epithelial cell function. Upon stimulation of these receptors, an extensive network of signal transduction pathways is activated, including the PI3K/AKT and Ras/Erk pathways. This activation leads to cellular proliferation and survival. In breast cancer, the EGF receptor, ErbB2 (HER2/neu), can be amplified and over-expressed and this is associated with poor prognosis and drug resistance. Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody against ErbB2 and has demonstrated activity in the therapy of breast cancer patients with over-expression of ErbB2, both in the metastatic and adjuvant setting. Recently, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, lapatinib, that targets both ErbB1 and ErbB2, has also shown activity in metastatic breast cancer. In this review, we will discuss the ErbB receptors and their signaling networks in breast cancer, as well as the clinical activities of trastuzumab and lapatinib in this disease.
trastuzumab; lapatinib; ErbB receptors; breast cancer and tyrosine kinases
Lapatinib is active at the ATP-binding site of tyrosine kinases that are associated with the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR, Her-1, or ErbB1) and Her-2. It is conceivable that lapatinib may inhibit the function of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters by binding to their ATP-binding sites. The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of lapatinib to reverse tumor multidrug resistance (MDR) due to overexpression of ABCB1 and ABCG2 transporters. Our results showed that lapatinib significantly enhanced the sensitivity to ABCB1 or ABCG2 substrates in cells expressing these transporters although a small synergetic effect was observed in combining lapatinib and conventional chemotherapeutic agents in parental sensitive MCF-7 or S1 cells. Lapatinib alone, however, did not significantly alter the sensitivity of non-ABCB1 or non-ABCG2 substrates in sensitive and resistant cells. Additionally, lapatinib significantly increased the accumulation of doxorubicin or mitoxantrone in ABCB1 or ABCG2 overexpressing cells and inhibited the transport of methotrexate and E217βG by ABCG2. Furthermore, lapatinib stimulated the ATPase activity of both ABCB1 and ABCG2 and inhibited the photolabeling of ABCB1 or ABCG2 with [125I]Iodoarylazidoprazosin in a concentration-dependent manner. However, lapatinib did not affect the expression of these transporters at mRNA or protein levels. Importantly, lapatinib also strongly enhanced the effect of paclitaxel on the inhibition of growth of the ABCB1-overexpressing KBv200 cell xenografts in nude mice. Overall, we conclude that lapatinib reverses ABCB1- and ABCG2-mediated MDR by directly inhibiting their transport function. These findings may be useful for cancer combinational therapy with lapatinib in the clinic.
multidrug resistance; ABCB1/P-gp; ABCG2/BCRP/MXR; EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor; lapatinib
Resistance to anti-ErbB2 agents is a significant problem in the treatment of human ErbB2+ breast cancers. We show here that adhesion of human ErbB2+ breast cancer cells to basement membrane laminin-5 provides substantial resistance to trastuzumab and lapatinib, agents that respectively target the extracellular and kinase domains of ErbB2. Knockdown of laminin-binding integrins (α6β4, α3β1) or associated tetraspanin protein CD151 reversed laminin-5 resistance, and sensitized ErbB2+ cells to trastuzumab and lapatinib. CD151 knockdown, together with trastuzumab treatment, inhibited ErbB2 activation and downstream signaling through Akt, Erk1/2, and FAK. Hence, ErbB2 function in mammary tumor cells is promoted by integrin-mediated adhesion to laminin-5, with strong support by CD151, leading to signaling through FAK. Consequently, removal or inhibition of any of these components (laminin-5, integrin, CD151, FAK) markedly sensitizes cells to anti-ErbB2 agents. These new insights should be useful when devising strategies for overcoming drug resistance in ErbB2+ cancers.
Laminin; Integrin; Trastuzumab; ErbB2; CD151; FAK
HER4/ErbB4 is a ubiquitously expressed member of the EGF/ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases that is essential for normal development of the heart, nervous system, and mammary gland. We report here crystal structures of the ErbB4 kinase domain in active and lapatinib-inhibited forms. Active ErbB4 kinase adopts an asymmetric dimer conformation essentially identical to that observed to be important for activation of the EGF receptor/ErbB1 kinase. Mutagenesis studies of intact ErbB4 in BaF3 cells confirm the importance of this asymmetric dimer for activation of intact ErbB4. Lapatinib binds to an inactive form of the ErbB4 kinase in a mode equivalent to its interaction with the EGF receptor. All ErbB4 residues contacted by lapatinib are conserved in the EGF receptor and HER2/ErbB2, which lapatinib also targets. These results demonstrate that key elements of kinase activation and inhibition are conserved among ErbB family members.
To determine whether lapatinib, a dual epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/HER2 kinase inhibitor, can radiosensitize EGFR+ or HER2+ breast cancer xenografts.
Methods and Materials
Mice bearing xenografts of basal-like/EGFR+ SUM149 and HER2+ SUM225 breast cancer cells were treated with lapatinib and fractionated radiotherapy and tumor growth inhibition correlated with alterations in ERK1 and AKT activation by immunohistochemistry.
Basal-like/EGFR+ SUM149 breast cancer tumors were completely resistant to treatment with lapatinib alone but highly growth impaired with lapatinib plus radiotherapy, exhibiting an enhancement ratio average of 2.75 and a fractional tumor product ratio average of 2.20 during the study period. In contrast, HER2+ SUM225 breast cancer tumors were highly responsive to treatment with lapatinib alone and yielded a relatively lower enhancement ratio average of 1.25 during the study period with lapatinib plus radiotherapy. Durable tumor control in the HER2+ SUM225 model was more effective with the combination treatment than either lapatinib or radiotherapy alone. Immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated that radiosensitization by lapatinib correlated with ERK1/2 inhibition in the EGFR+ SUM149 model and with AKT inhibition in the HER2+ SUM225 model.
Our data suggest that lapatinib combined with fractionated radiotherapy may be useful against EGFR+ and HER2+ breast cancers and that inhibition of downstream signaling to ERK1/2 and AKT correlates with sensitization in EGFR+ and HER2+ cells, respectively.
Breast cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; HER2; radiosensitization; lapatinib
Background and purpose
We recently showed that lapatinib, an EGFR/HER2 inhibitor, radiosensitized breast cancer cells of the basal and HER2+ subtypes. The purpose of this study was to identify the downstream signaling pathways responsible for lapatinib-mediated radiosensitization in breast cancer.
Materials and methods
Response of EGFR downstream signaling pathways were assessed by western blot and clonogenic cell survival assays in breast tumor cells after irradiation (5 Gy), lapatinib, CI-1040, or combined treatment.
In SUM102 cells, an EGFR+ basal breast cancer cell line, exposure to ionizing radiation elicited strong activation of ERK1/2 and JNK, which was blocked by lapatinib, and weak/no activation of p38, AKT or STAT3. Direct inhibition of MEK1 with CI-1040 resulted in 95% inhibition of surviving colonies when combined with radiation while inhibition of JNK with SP600125 had no effect. Lapatinib-mediated radiosensitization of SUM102 cells was completely abrogated with expression of constitutively active Raf. Treatment of lapatinib-resistant SUM185 cells with CI-1040 restored radiosensitization with 45% fewer surviving colonies when combined with radiation.
These data suggest that radiosensitization by lapatinib is mediated largely through inhibition of MEK/ERK and that direct inhibition of this pathway may provide an additional avenue of radiosensitization in EGFR+ or HER2+ breast cancers.
EGFR; lapatinib; CI-1040; MEK/ERK; resistance; breast cancer
In women with estrogen receptor(ER)- and ErbB2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer, a vicious cycle is established between ER mechanisms of action and the growth factor receptor network, leading to enhanced cell proliferation and endocrine resistance. As such, co-targeting ErbB1 and ErbB2 with lapatinib in combination with hormonal therapy is an attractive approach to enhance the efficacy of either tamoxifen or estrogen deprivation. As demonstrated in the EGF30008 trial, a combined targeted strategy with letrozole and lapatinib significantly increased progression-free survival and clinical benefit rates in patients with metastatic breast cancer that co-expresses ER and ErbB2. Therefore, women who are not in an acutely life-threatening situation should be considered for upfront treatment with hormonal therapy (e.g. aromatase inhibitors) in combination with an anti-ErbB2 therapy.
ErbB2-positive breast cancer; Hormone receptors; ErbB2/ER pathway crosstalk; Endocrine resistance; EGF30008 trial
The EGF receptor (ERBB1) and related family member HER2/neu (ERBB2) are often overexpressed in aggressive breast cancers and their overexpression is correlated with poor prognosis. Clinical studies using ERBB inhibitors have focused on tumor growth effects, but ERBBs can contribute to malignancy independent of their effects on tumor growth. Our studies were designed to evaluate the effect of ERBB inhibition on tumor cell motility and intravasation in vivo using clinically relevant small molecule inhibitors.
Using in vivo mouse models of breast cancer, we test the effects of ERBB1 and ERBB2 inhibitors AC480 and lapatinib, ERBB1 inhibitor gefitinib, and ERBB2 inhibitor AG825 on in vivo tumor cell invasive properties in mammary fat pad tumors.
ERBB1 and ERBB2 inhibition rapidly (within 3 hours) inhibits both tumor cell motility and intravasation. Using gefitinib, ERBB1 inhibition rapidly inhibits tumor cell motility and invasion but not intravasation, while ERBB2 inhibition by AG825 rapidly blocks intravasation.
ERBB1 and ERBB2 inhibition can rapidly block tumor cell invasive properties. In addition, we differentiate for the first time the contributions of ERBB1 and ERBB2 to the key metastatic properties of in vivo tumor cell invasion and intravasation. These experiments temporally and molecularly separate two key stages in tumor cell entry into blood vessels: invasion and intravasation. These results indicate that ERBB inhibition should be considered for blocking other tumor cell malignant properties besides growth.
ERBBs; metastasis; intravital imaging; motility; intravasation
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling is strongly implicated in glioblastoma (GBM) tumorigenesis. However, molecular agents targeting EGFR have demonstrated minimal efficacy in clinical trials, suggesting the existence of GBM resistance mechanisms. GBM cells with stem-like properties (CSCs) are highly efficient at tumor initiation and exhibit therapeutic resistance. In this study, GBMCSC lines showed sphere-forming and tumor initiation capacity after EGF withdrawal from cell culture media, compared with normal neural stem cells that rapidly perished after EGF withdrawal. Compensatory activation of related ERBB family receptors (ERBB2 and ERBB3) was observed in GBM CSCs deprived of EGFR signal (EGF deprivation or cetuximab inhibition), suggesting an intrinsic GBM resistance mechanism for EGFR-targeted therapy. Dual inhibition of EGFR and ERBB2 with lapatinib significantly reduced GBM proliferation in colony formation assays compared to cetuximab-mediated EGFR-specific inhibition. Phosphorylation of downstream ERBB signaling components (AKT, ERK1/2) and GBM CSC proliferation were inhibited by lapatinib. Collectively, these findings show that GBM therapeutic resistance to EGFR inhibitors may be explained by compensatory activation of EGFR-related family members (ERBB2, ERBB3) enabling GBM CSC proliferation, and therefore simultaneous blockade of multiple ERBB family members may be required for more efficacious GBM therapy.
Lapatinib, a dual EGFR/HER2 kinase inhibitor, is approved for use in patients with trastuzumab-refractory HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. Increased PI3K signaling has been associated with resistance to trastuzumab, although its role in lapatinib resistance remains unclear. The purpose of the current study was to determine if PI3K/mTOR activity affects lapatinib sensitivity. Reduced sensitivity to lapatinib was associated with an inability of lapatinib to inhibit Akt and p70S6K phosphorylation. Transfection of constitutively active Akt reduced lapatinib sensitivity, while kinase-dead Akt increased sensitivity. Knockdown of 4EBP1 also increased lapatinib sensitivity, in contrast to p70S6K knockdown, which did not affect response to lapatinib. Pharmacologic inhibition of mTOR using rapamycin or ridaforolimus increased lapatinib sensitivity and reduced phospho-Akt levels in cells that showed poor response to single-agent lapatinib, including those transfected with hyperactive Akt. Finally, combination mTOR inhibition plus lapatinib resulted in synergistic inhibition of proliferation, reduced anchorage-independent growth, and reduced in vivo tumor growth of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells that have primary trastuzumab resistance. Our data suggest that PI3K/mTOR inhibition is critical for achieving optimal response to lapatinib. Collectively, these experiments support evaluation of lapatinib in combination with pharmacologic mTOR inhibition as a potential strategy for inhibiting growth of HER2-overexpressing breast cancers that show resistance to trastuzumab and poor response to lapatinib.
Akt; breast cancer; drug resistance; erbB2; HER2; Herceptin; lapatinib; MK-8669; mTOR; PI3K; p70S6K; rapamycin; ridaforolimus; Tykerb; trastuzumab
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ErbB1) and HER2 (ErbB2/neu), members of the ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase family, are frequently overexpressed in breast cancer and are known to drive tumor growth and progression, making them promising targets for cancer therapy. Lapatinib is a selective competitive inhibitor of both the HER2 and EGFR tyrosine kinases. Although lapatinib showed significant activity in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, the role of EGFR in the response of breast cancer to lapatinib has not been defined. Here, we examined the role of EGFR expression levels in the sensitivity of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells to lapatinib. Depletion of EGFR by EGFR small-interfering RNA knockdown did not affect lapatinib sensitivity in these cells, whereas treated HER2 siRNA knockdown cells became more resistant to lapatinib. We conclude that the in vitro activity of lapatinib is not dependent on EGFR expression level in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells.
Recent studies have identified novel subgroups in ER-negative breast cancer based on the expression pattern of androgen receptor (AR). One subtype (molecular apocrine) has an over-expression of steroid-response genes and ErbB2. Using breast cancer cell lines with molecular apocrine features, we demonstrate a functional cross-talk between AR and ErbB2 pathways. We show that stimulation of AR and ErbB2 pathways leads to the cross-regulation of gene expression for AR, ErbB2, FOXA1, XBP1, TFF3, and KLK3. As opposed to the physiologic transient phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) observed with the testosterone treatment, we demonstrate that the addition of ErbB2 inhibition leads to a persistent phosphorylation of ERK1/2, which negatively regulates the downstream signaling and cell growth. This suggests a mechanism for the cross-talk involving the ERK pathway. Moreover, testosterone stimulates the proliferation of molecular apocrine breast cell lines, and this effect can be reversed using antiandrogen flutamide and anti-ErbB2 AG825. Conversely, the growth stimulatory effect of heregulin can also be inhibited with flutamide, suggesting a cross-talk between the AR and ErbB2 pathways affecting cell proliferation. Importantly, there is a synergy with the combined use of flutamide and AG825 on cell proliferation and apoptosis, which indicates a therapeutic advantage in the combined blockage of AR and ErbB2 pathways.
The ErbB receptor family member ErbB3 has been implicated in breast cancer growth but it has yet to be determined whether its disruption is therapeutically valuable. In a mouse model of mammary carcinoma driven by the polyomavirus middle T (PyVmT) oncogene, the ErbB2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib reduced the activation of ErbB3 and Akt along with tumor cell growth. In this phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)-dependent tumor model, ErbB2 is part of a complex containing PyVmT, p85 (PI3K), ErbB3, and Src, that is disrupted by treatment with lapatinib. Thus, full engagement of PI3K/Akt by ErbB2 in this oncogene-induced mouse tumor model may involve its ability to dimerize with and phosphorylate ErbB3, which itself directly binds PI3K. Here we report that ErbB3 is critical for PI3K/AKT-driven tumor formation triggered by the PyVmT oncogene. Tissue-specific, Cre-mediated deletion of ErbB3 reduced Akt phosphorylation, primary tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis. Further EZN-3920, a chemically stabilized antisense oligonucleotide that targets the ErbB3 mRNA in vivo, produced similar effects while causing no mouse toxicity. Our findings offer further preclinical evidence that ErbB3 ablation may be therapeutically effective in tumors where ErbB3 engages PI3K/Akt signaling.
ErbB2/HER2; ErbB3/HER3; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; breast cancer; transgenic mouse model; Polyomavirus middle T; antisense
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a highly aggressive subtype of breast cancer that is often characterized by ErbB2 overexpression. ErbB2 targeting is clinically relevant using trastuzumab (anti-ErbB2 antibody) and lapatinib (small molecule ErbB1/2 inhibitor). However, acquired resistance is a common outcome even in IBC patients who show an initial clinical response, which limits the efficacy of these agents. In the present study, using a clonal population of GW583340 (lapatinib analog, ErbB1/2 inhibitor)-resistant IBC cells, we identified overexpression of an anti-apoptotic protein, XIAP, in acquired resistance to GW583340 in both ErbB2 overexpressing SUM190 and ErbB1 activated SUM149 cell lines derived from primary IBC tumors. A marked decrease in p-ErbB2, p-ErbB1, and downstream signaling was evident in the GW583340-resistant cells (rSUM190 and rSUM149) similar to parental counterparts treated with the drug, suggesting the primary mechanism of action of GW583340 was not compromised in resistant cells. However, rSUM190 and rSUM149 cells growing in GW583340 had significant XIAP overexpression and resistance to GW583340-mediated apoptosis. Additionally, stable XIAP overexpression using a lentiviral system reversed sensitivity to GW583340 in parental cells. The observed overexpression was identified to be caused by IRES-mediated XIAP translation. XIAP downregulation in rSUM190 and rSUM149 cells using a small molecule inhibitor (embelin), which abrogates the XIAP/procaspase 9 interaction, resulted in decreased viability, demonstrating that XIAP is required for survival of cells with acquired resistance to GW583340. These studies establish the feasibility of development of an XIAP inhibitor that potentiates apoptosis for use in IBC patients with resistance to ErbB2-targeting agents.
IRES; embelin; survivin; FOXO3a; p-AKT
Tyrosine phosphorylation is important in signaling pathways underlying tumorigenesis. A mutational analysis of the Protein Tyrosine Kinase (PTK) gene family in cutaneous metastatic melanoma identified 30 somatic mutations in the kinase domain of 19 PTKs. The whole of the coding region of these 19 PTKs was further evaluated for somatic mutations in a total of 79 melanoma samples. This analysis revealed novel ERBB4 mutations in 19% of melanoma patients and that an additional two kinases (FLT1 and PTK2B) are mutated in 10% of melanomas. Seven missense mutations in the most commonly altered PTK (ERBB4) were examined and found to increase kinase activity and transformation ability. Melanoma cells expressing mutant ERBB4 had reduced cell growth after shRNA–mediated knockdown of ERBB4 or treatment with the ERBB inhibitor lapatinib. These studies might lead to personalized therapeutics specifically targeting the kinases that are mutationally altered in individual melanomas.
By constructing stably transfected cells harboring the same amount of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR), but with increasing overexpression of ErbB2, we have demonstrated that ErbB2 efficiently inhibits internalization of ligand-bound EGFR. Apparently, ErbB2 inhibits internalization of EGF-bound EGFR by constitutively driving EGFR-ErbB2 hetero/oligomerization. We have demonstrated that ErbB2 does not inhibit phosphorylation or ubiquitination of the EGFR. Our data further indicate that the endocytosis deficiency of ErbB2 and of EGFR-ErbB2 heterodimers/oligomers cannot be explained by anchoring of ErbB2 to PDZ-containing proteins such as Erbin. Instead, we demonstrate that in contrast to EGFR homodimers, which are capable of inducing new clathrin-coated pits in serum-starved cells upon incubation with EGF, clathrin-coated pits are not induced upon activation of EGFR-ErbB2 heterodimers/oligomers.
Mitogen-induced mammary cell growth is often accompanied by decreased levels of expression of the p185erbB-2 protein. We have previously reported that oestrogen inhibits erbB-2 mRNA and protein expression in breast cancer cells, while epidermal growth factor (EGF) treatment has been shown to decrease p185erbB-2 levels in normal mouse mammary epithelial cells. In the present work, we studied the effect of oestrogen and EGF on erbB-2 expression in oestrogen-responsive breast cancer cells. We observed that both oestrogen and EGF comparably down-regulated p185erbB-2 levels, while stimulating growth of T47D and ZR75.1 cells. Oestrogens, but not EGF, concomitantly down-regulated erbB-2 mRNA. Run-on analysis showed a reduced erbB-2 transcription rate in the presence of oestrogens. Furthermore, the transcriptional activity of a 219 bp proximal fragment of the human erbB-2 promoter was repressed by oestrogens, whereas it was enhanced by EGF. EGF stimulated both tyrosine phosphorylation and autokinase activity of p185erbB-2 down-regulates p185erbB-2 at a post-translational level. Thus, two factors converging in terms of effects on cell growth, display divergent mechanisms of regulation of erbB-2 expression.
The primary focus of this investigation was to study the relationship between neuroendocrine (NE) differentiation and epidermal growth factor (EGF) because both have been implicated in the progression of prostate cancer. For this purpose, we used gefitinib and trastuzumab, which are inhibitors of EGF receptor (EGFR) and ErbB2, respectively. EGF prevents NE differentiation induced by androgen depletion. This effect is prevented by gefitinib, which blocks the activation of EGFR and ErbB2, stimulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and cell proliferation induced by EGF. Conversely, trastuzumab does not inhibit the effect of EGF on EGFR phosphorylation, MAPK activity, cell proliferation, and NE differentiation, although it reduces ErbB2 levels specifically, suggesting that ErbB2 is not necessary to inhibit NE differentiation. Prevention of NE differentiation by EGF is mediated by a MAPK-dependent mechanism and requires constitutive Akt activation. The abrogation of the PI3K/Akt pathway changes the role of EGF from inhibitor to inductor of NE differentiation. We show that EGFR tyrosine kinase, MAPK, and PI3K inhibitors inhibit the cell proliferation stimulated by EGF but induce the acquisition of NE phenotype. Altogether, the present data should be borne in mind when designing new clinical schedules for the treatment of prostate cancer, including the use of ErbB receptors and associated signaling pathway inhibitors.
EGF; prostate cancer; neuroendocrine differentiation; gefinitib; trastuzumab
Lapatinib, a selective orally available inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ErbB2 receptor tyrosine kinases, is a promising agent for the treatment of breast cancer. We examined the effect of lapatinib on the development of mammary tumors in MMTV-erbB2 transgenic mice, which express wild-type ErbB2 under the control of the mouse mammary tumor virus promoter and spontaneously develop estrogen receptor (ER)–negative and ErbB2-positive mammary tumors by 14 months of age. Mice were treated from age 3 months to age 15 months with vehicle (n = 17) or lapatinib (30 or 75 mg/kg body weight; n = 16 mice per group) by oral gavage twice daily (6 d/wk). All statistical tests were two-sided. By 328 days after the start of treatment, all 17 (100%) of the vehicle-treated mice vs five (31%) of the 16 mice treated with high-dose lapatinib developed mammary tumors (P < .001). Among MMTV-erbB2 mice treated for 5 months (n = 20 mice per group), those treated with lapatinib had fewer premalignant lesions and noninvasive cancers in their mammary glands than those treated with vehicle (P = .02). Lapatinib also effectively blocked epidermal growth factor–induced signaling through the EGFR and ErbB2 receptors, suppressed cyclin D1 and epiregulin mRNA expression, and stimulated p27 mRNA expression in human mammary epithelial cells and in mammary epithelial cells from mice treated for 5 months with high-dose lapatinib. Thus, cyclin D1, epiregulin, and p27 may represent useful biomarkers of lapatinib response in patients. These data suggest that lapatinib is a promising agent for the prevention of ER-negative breast cancer.
The efficacy of anti-HER2 therapeutics, such as lapatinib and trastuzumab, is limited by primary and acquired resistance. Cellular adaptations that allow breast cancer cell to survive prolonged HER2 inhibition include de-repression of the transcription factor FOXO3A with consequent estrogen receptor activation, and/or increased HER3 signaling. Here, we used low-density arrays, quantitative PCR, and western blotting to determine how HER2 signaling inhibition with lapatinib or PI3K inhibitors affects the expression of genes involved in breast cancer metastatic spread and overall prognosis. Retroviral transgenesis was used to express constitutively active forms of Akt in the HER2+ breast cancer cell line SKBR3, and Grb7 in MCF7 cells. Specific gene silencing was obtained by siRNAs transfection. A murine BT474 xenograft cancer model was used to assess the effect of lapatinib on gene expression in vivo. We found that lapatinib induces upregulation of Grb7, an adaptor protein involved in receptor tyrosine kinase signaling and promoting cell survival and cell migration. Grb7 upregulation induced by lapatinib was found to occur in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that Grb7 upregulation is recreated by PI3K inhibitors while being prevented by constitutively active Akt. Thus, Grb7 is repressed by PI3K signaling and lapatinib-mediated Akt inhibition is responsible for Grb7 de-repression. Finally, we show that Grb7 removal by RNA-interference reduces breast cancer cell viability and increases the activity of lapatinib. In conclusion, Grb7 upregulation is a potentially adverse consequence of HER2 signaling inhibition. Preventing Grb7 accumulation and/or its interaction with receptor tyrosine kinases may increase the benefit of HER2-targeting drugs.
ErbB signaling through extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) has been implicated in regulating the expression of ErbB ligands in hyperproliferative skin disorders and wound healing. Here, we characterize the process of autocrine ERK activation in cultured normal human keratinocytes (NHKs) subjected to growth factor (GF) deprivation. Basal ERK phosphorylation was lower after 48 h than after 24 h of GF deprivation, and lowest at 30–60 min after an additional medium change. ERK phosphorylation was markedly increased by low concentrations of epidermal growth factor (EGF) (0.2–1 ng/ml) that provoked only a limited increase in ErbB1 tyrosine phosphorylation and internalization. Basal ErbB tyrosine phosphorylation and ERK phosphorylation were inhibited by two different ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, by the ErbB1-specific neutralizing monoclonal antibody 225 IgG, by two different metalloproteinase inhibitors, and by neutralizing antibodies against amphiregulin (AR). In contrast, these responses were unaffected by neutralizing antibodies against other ErbB1 ligands or the ErbB2 inhibitors geldanamycin and AG825. The time course of autocrine ERK phosphorylation correlated with the appearance of soluble AR, and two different metalloproteinase inhibitors blocked AR release. These results define an amphiregulin- and ErbB1-dependent mechanism by which autocrine ERK activation is maintained in NHKs, even when ErbB1 autophosphorylation and internalization are limited.
ErbB3 is a critical activator of PI3K signaling in EGFR (ErbB1), ErbB2 (HER2), and MET addicted cancers, and reactivation of ErbB3 is a prominent method for cancers to become resistant to ErbB inhibitors. In this study, we evaluated the in vivo efficacy of a therapeutic anti-ErbB3 antibody, MM-121. We found that MM-121 effectively blocked ligand-dependent activation of ErbB3 induced by either EGFR, HER2, or MET. Assessment of several cancer cell lines revealed that MM-121 reduced basal ErbB3 phosphorylation most effectively in cancers possessing ligand-dependent activation of ErbB3. In those cancers, MM-121 treatment led to decreased ErbB3 phosphorylation, and in some instances, decreased ErbB3 expression. The efficacy of single-agent MM-121 was also examined in xenograft models. A computational learning algorithm found that MM-121 was most effective against xenografts with evidence of ligand-dependent activation of ErbB3. We subsequently investigated whether MM-121 treatment could abrogate resistance to anti-EGFR therapies by preventing reactivation of ErbB3. We observed that an EGFR mutant lung cancer cell line (HCC827), made resistant to gefitinib by exogenous heregulin, was re-sensitized by MM-121. In addition, we found that a de novo lung cancer mouse model induced by EGFR T790M-L858R rapidly became resistant to cetuximab. Resistance was associated with an increase in heregulin expression and ErbB3 activation. However, concomitant cetuximab treatment with MM-121 blocked reactivation of ErbB3 and resulted in a sustained and durable response. Thus, these results suggest that targeting ErbB3 with MM-121 can be an effective therapeutic strategy for cancers with ligand-dependent activation of ErbB3.
MM-121; ErbB3; HER3; support vector machines; EGFR T790M-L858R; cetuximab; combination therapy; drug resistance
Overexpression of the ERBB2 kinase is observed in about one-third of breast cancer patients and the dual ERBB1/ERBB2 kinase inhibitor lapatinib was recently approved for the treatment of advanced ERBB2-positive breast cancer. Mutations in the ERBB2 receptor have recently been reported in breast cancer at diagnosis and also in gastric, colorectal and lung cancer. These mutations may have an impact on the clinical responses achieved with lapatinib in breast cancer and may also have a potential impact on the use of lapatinib in other solid cancers. However, the sensitivity of lapatinib towards clinically observed ERBB2 mutations is not known.
We cloned a panel of 8 clinically observed ERBB2 mutations, established stable cell lines and characterized their sensitivity towards lapatinib and alternative ERBB2 inhibitors. Both lapatinib-sensitive and lapatinib-resistant ERBB2 mutations were observed. Interestingly, we were able to generate lapatinib resistance mutations in wt-ERBB2 cells incubated with lapatinib for prolonged periods of time. This indicates that these resistance mutations may also cause secondary resistance in lapatinib-treated patients. Lapatinib-resistant ERBB2 mutations were found to be highly resistant towards AEE788 treatment but remained sensitive towards the dual irreversible inhibitors CL-387785 and WZ-4002.
Patients harbouring certain ERBB2 kinase domain mutations at diagnosis may not benefit from lapatinib treatment. Moreover, secondary lapatinib resistance may develop due to kinase domain mutations. Irreversible ERBB2 inhibitors may offer alternative treatment options for breast cancer and other solid tumor patients harbouring lapatinib resistance mutations. In addition, these inhibitors may be of interest in the scenario of secondary lapatinib resistance.
We reported that Notch-1, a potent breast oncogene, is activated in response to trastuzumab and contributes to trastuzumab resistance in vitro. We sought to determine the preclinical benefit of combining a Notch inhibitor (γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI)) and trastuzumab in both trastuzumab-sensitive and trastuzumab-resistant, ErbB-2-positive, BT474 breast tumours in vivo. We also studied if the combination therapy of lapatinib plus GSI can induce tumour regression of ErbB-2-positive breast cancer.
We generated orthotopic breast tumour xenografts from trastuzumab- or lapatinib-sensitive and trastuzumab-resistant BT474 cells. We investigated the antitumour activities of two distinct GSIs, LY 411 575 and MRK-003, in vivo.
Our findings showed that combining trastuzumab plus a GSI completely prevented (MRK-003 GSI) or significantly reduced (LY 411 575 GSI) breast tumour recurrence post-trastuzumab treatment in sensitive tumours. Moreover, combining lapatinib plus MRK-003 GSI showed significant reduction of tumour growth. Furthermore, a GSI partially reversed trastuzumab resistance in resistant tumours.
Our data suggest that a combined inhibition of Notch and ErbB-2 signalling pathways could decrease recurrence rates for ErbB-2-positive breast tumours and may be beneficial in the treatment of recurrent trastuzumab-resistant disease.
ErbB-2; trastuzumab; Notch-1; GSI; recurrence; resistance