S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (SKP2) is a component of the E3 ubiquitin ligase SKP1-Cul1-Fbox complex. Overexpression of SKP2 results in cell cycle dysregulation and carcinogenesis; however, the genetic lesions that cause this upregulation are poorly understood. We recently demonstrated that forkhead box P3 (FOXP3) is an X-linked breast cancer suppressor and an important repressor of the oncogene ERBB2/HER2. Since FOXP3 suppresses tumor growth regardless of whether the tumors overexpress ERBB2/HER2, additional FOXP3 targets may be involved in its tumor suppressor activity. Here, we show that mammary carcinomas from mice heterozygous for a Foxp3 mutation exhibited increased Skp2 expression. Ectopic expression of FOXP3 in mouse mammary cancer cells repressed SKP2 expression with a corresponding increase in p27 and polyploidy. Conversely, siRNA silencing of the FOXP3 gene in human mammary epithelial cells increased SKP2 expression. We also show that Foxp3 directly interacted with and repressed the Skp2 promoter. Moreover, the analysis of over 200 primary breast cancer samples revealed an inverse correlation between FOXP3 and SKP2 levels. Finally, we demonstrated that downregulation of SKP2 was critical for FOXP3-mediated growth inhibition in breast cancer cells that do not overexpress ERBB2/HER2. Our data provide genetic, biochemical, and functional evidence that FOXP3 is a novel transcriptional repressor for the oncogene SKP2.
The FOXP3 (forkhead box P3) gene is a member of forkhead winged helix family transcription factors and functions as both a transcriptional activator and a repressor. FOXP3 dysfunction is responsible for an X-linked autoimmune syndrome: immune dysregulation, polyendopathy, enterophathy, X-linked syndrome. In addition to its role as an essential transcription factor in regulatory T cells, the FOXP3 gene is an epithelial cell-intrinsic tumor suppressor for breast and prostate cancers. We will focus on the FOXP3 signalling pathway in epithelial cells and discuss how genetic and/or epigenetic inactivation of the FOXP3 contributes to the malignant transformation of cells.
FOXP3; epithelial cell; X-linked tumor suppressor gene; breast cancer; prostate cancer
Foxp1, Foxp2, and Foxp4 are large multidomain transcriptional regulators belonging to the family of winged-helix DNA binding proteins known as the Fox family. Foxp1 and Foxp2 have been shown to act as transcriptional repressors, while regulatory activity of the recently identified Foxp4 has not been determined. Given the importance of this Fox gene subfamily in neural and lung development, we sought to elucidate the mechanisms by which Foxp1, Foxp2, and Foxp4 repress gene transcription. We show that like Foxp1 and Foxp2, Foxp4 represses transcription. Analysis of the N-terminal repression domain in Foxp1, Foxp2, and Foxp4 shows that this region contains two separate and distinct repression subdomains that are highly homologous termed subdomain 1 and subdomain 2. However, subdomain 2 is not functional in Foxp4. Screening for proteins that interact with subdomains 1 and 2 of Foxp2 using yeast two-hybrid analysis revealed that subdomain 2 binds to C-terminal binding protein 1, which can synergistically repress transcription with Foxp1 and Foxp2, but not Foxp4. Subdomain 1 contains a highly conserved leucine zipper similar to that found in N-myc and confers homo- and heterodimerization to the Foxp1/2/4 family members. These interactions are dependent on the conserved leucine zipper motif. Finally, we show that the integrity of this subdomain is essential for DNA binding, making Foxp1, Foxp2, and Foxp4 the first Fox proteins that require dimerization for DNA binding. These data reveal a complex regulatory mechanism underlying Foxp1, Foxp2, and Foxp4 activity, demonstrating that Foxp1, Foxp2, and Foxp4 are the first Fox proteins reported whose activity is regulated by homo- and heterodimerization.
The receptor ErbB3/HER3 is often over-expressed in human breast cancers, frequently in conjunction with over-expression of the proto-oncogene ERBB2/HER2/NEU. Although the prognostic/predictive value of ErbB3 expression in breast cancer is unclear, ErbB3 is known to contribute to therapeutic resistance. Understanding ErbB3 functions in the normal mammary gland will help to explain its role in cancer etiology and as a modulator of signaling responses to the mammary oncogene ERBB2.
To investigate the roles of ErbB3 in mouse mammary gland development, we transplanted mammary buds from ErbB3-/- embryos into the cleared mammary fat pads of wild-type immunocompromised mice. Effects on ductal outgrowth were analyzed at 4 weeks, 7 weeks and 20 weeks after transplantation for total ductal outgrowth, branch density, and number and area of terminal end buds. Sections of glands containing terminal end buds were analyzed for number and epithelial area of terminal end buds. Terminal end buds were also analyzed for presence of mitotic figures, apoptotic figures, BrdU incorporation, and expression of E-cadherin, P-cadherin, α-smooth muscle actin, and cleaved caspase-3.
The mammary ductal trees developed from ErbB3-/- buds only partly filled the mammary fat pad. In contrast to similar experiments with ErbB2-/- mammary buds, this phenotype was maintained through adulthood, pregnancy, and parturition. In addition, and in contrast to similar work with ErbB4-/- mammary buds, lobuloalveolar development of ErbB3-/- transplanted glands was normal. The ErbB3-/- mammary outgrowth defect was associated with a decrease in the size of the terminal end buds, and with increases in branch density, in the number of terminal end buds, and in the number of luminal spaces. Proliferation rates were not affected by the lack of ErbB3, but there was an increase in apoptosis in ErbB3-/- terminal end buds.
Endogenous ErbB3 regulates morphogenesis of mammary epithelium.
ErbB4 is a member of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases. This family includes ErbB2 (HER2/Neu), a validated therapeutic target in breast cancer. Several studies indicate that ErbB4 functions as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer, whereas others indicate that ErbB4 functions as an oncogene. Here the authors explore the context in which ErbB4 functions as an oncogene. Silencing expression of either ErbB2 or ErbB4 in breast tumor cell lines results in reduced stimulation of anchorage independence and cell motility by the ErbB4 agonist neuregulin 2β. ErbB2 tyrosine kinase activity, but not ErbB4 tyrosine kinase activity, is required for neuregulin 2β to stimulate cell proliferation. Moreover, sites of ErbB4 tyrosine phosphorylation, but not sites of ErbB2 tyrosine phosphorylation, are required for neuregulin 2β to couple to cell proliferation. These data suggest that targeting ErbB2 expression or tyrosine kinase activity may be effective in treating ErbB4-dependent breast tumors, even those tumors that lack ErbB2 overexpression.
ErbB2; ErbB4; crosstalk; breast cancer; invasiveness; motility
The forkhead transcription factor FOXP3 is necessary for induction of regulatory T lymphocytes (Tregs) and their immunosuppressive function. We have previously demonstrated that targeting Tregs by vaccination of mice with murine FOXP3 mRNA-transfected dendritic cells (DCs) elicits FOXP3-specific T cell responses and enhances tumor immunity. It is clear that FOXP3 expression is not restricted to T-cell lineage and herein, using RT-PCR, flow cytometry, and western immunoblot we demonstrate for the first time that FOXP3 is expressed in inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) cells, SUM149 (triple negative, ErbB1-activated) and SUM190 (ErbB2-overexpressing). Importantly, FOXP3-specific T cells generated in vitro using human FOXP3 RNA-transfected DCs as stimulators efficiently lyse SUM149 cells. Interestingly, an isogenic model (rSUM149) derived from SUM149 with an enhanced anti-apoptotic phenotype was resistant to FOXP3-specific T cell mediated lysis. The MHC class I cellular processing mechanism was intact in both cell lines at the protein and transcription levels suggesting that the resistance to cytolysis by rSUM149 cells was not related to MHC class I expression or to the MHC class I antigen processing machinery in these cells. Our data suggest that FOXP3 may be an effective tumor target in IBC cells however increased anti-apoptotic signaling can lead to immune evasion.
Despite clear epidemiological and genetic evidence for X-linked prostate cancer risk, all prostate cancer genes identified are autosomal. Here we report somatic inactivating mutations and deletion of the X-linked FOXP3 gene residing at Xp11.23 in human prostate cancer. Lineage-specific ablation of FoxP3 in the mouse prostate epithelial cells leads to prostate hyperplasia and prostate intraepithelial neoplasia. In both normal and malignant prostate tissues, FOXP3 is both necessary and sufficient to transcriptionally repress cMYC, the most commonly over-expressed oncogene in prostate cancer as well as among the aggregates of other cancers. FOXP3 is an X-linked prostate tumor suppressor in the male. Since the male has only one X chromosome, our data represents a paradigm of “single-genetic-hit” inactivation-mediated carcinogenesis.
FOXP3 is inactivated in breast cancer cells by a number of mechanisms, including somatic mutations, deletion and epigenetic silencing. Since the mutation and deletion are usually heterozygous in the cancer samples, it is of interest to determine whether the gene can be induced for the purpose of cancer therapy. Here we report that anisomycin, a potent activator of ATF2, and JNK, induces expression of FoxP3 in both normal and malignant mammary epithelial cells. The induction is mediated by ATF2 and c-Jun. Targeted mutation of ATF2 abrogates both constitutive and inducible expression of FoxP3 in normal epithelial cells. Both ATF2 and c-Jun interact with a novel enhancer in the intron 1 of the FoxP3 locus. Moreover, shRNA silencing of ATF2 and FoxP3 reveals an important role of ATF2-FoxP3 pathway in the anisomycin-induced apoptosis of breast cancer cells. A low dose of anisomycin was also remarkably effective in treating established mammary tumor in the mice. Our data demonstrated that FoxP3 can be reactivated for cancer therapy.
FoxP3; breast cancer; tumor suppressor gene
p21-loss has been implicated in conferring oncogenic activity to known tumor suppressor gene KLF4 and cancer drug tamoxifen. Regulators of p21 therefore play critical roles in tumorigenesis. Here we report that X-linked tumor suppressor FOXP3 is essential for p21 expression in normal epithelia and that lack of FOXP3 associated with p21 down-regulation in breast cancer samples. A specific FOXP3 binding site in the intron 1 is essential for p21 induction by FOXP3. FOXP3 specifically inhibited binding of histone deacetylase (HDAC) 2 and 4 to the site and increased local histone H3 acetylation. ShRNA silencing of either HDAC2 or HDAC4 is sufficient to induce p21 expression. Our data provides a novel mechanism for transcriptional activation by FOXP3 and a genetic mechanism for lack of p21 in a large proportion of breast cancer.
ErbB2/HER2/Neu-overexpressing breast cancers are characterized by poor survival due to high proliferation and metastasis rates and identifying downstream targets of ErbB2 should facilitate developing novel therapies for this disease. Gene expression profiling revealed the transcriptional regulator LIM-only protein 4 [LMO4] is upregulated during ErbB2-induced mouse mammary gland tumorigenesis. While LMO4 is frequently overexpressed in breast cancer and LMO4-overexpressing mice develop mammary epithelial tumors, the mechanisms involved are unknown. Herein, we report that LMO4 is a downstream target of ErbB2 and PI3K in ErbB2-dependent breast cancer cells. Furthermore, LMO4 silencing reduces proliferation of these cells, inducing a G2/M arrest that was associated with decreased cullin-3, an E3-ubiquitin ligase component important for mitosis. Loss of LMO4 subsequently results in reduced Cyclin D1 and Cyclin E. Further supporting a role for LMO4 in modulating proliferation by regulating cullin-3 expression, we found that LMO4 expression oscillates throughout the cell cycle with maximum expression occurring during G2/M and these changes precede oscillations in cullin-3 levels. LMO4 levels are also highest in high grade/less differentiated breast cancers, which are characteristically highly proliferative. We conclude that LMO4 is a novel cell cycle regulator with a key role in mediating ErbB2-induced proliferation, a hallmark of ErbB2-positive disease.
Breast Cancer; cullin-3; ErbB2; HER2; LMO4
The ErbB2 (Her2/neu epidermal growth receptor family) oncogene is overexpressed in 30% to 40% of human breast cancers. Cyclin D1 is the regulatory subunit of the holoenzyme that phosphorylates and inactivates the retinoblastoma (pRb) tumor suppressor and is an essential downstream target of ErbB2-induced tumor growth. Herein, we demonstrate that ErbB2 induces the activity of the Notch signaling pathway. ErbB2 induction of DNA synthesis, contact-independent growth, and mammosphere induction required Notch1. ErbB2-induced cyclin D1 and cyclin D1 expression was sufficient to induce Notch1 activity, and conversely, genetic deletion of Notch1 in mammary epithelial cells using floxed Notch (Notchfl/fl ) mice demonstrated that cyclin D1 is induced by Notch1. Genetic deletion of cyclin D1 or small interfering RNA (siRNA) to cyclin D1-reduced Notch1 activity and reintroduction of cyclin D1 into cyclin D1-deficient cells restored Notch1 activity through the inhibition of Numb, an endogenous inhibitor of Notch1 activity. Thus, cyclin D1 functions downstream as a genetic target of Notch1, amplifies Notch1 activity by repressing Numb, and identifies a novel pathway by which ErbB2 induces Notch1 activity via the induction of cyclin D1.
cancer biology; oncogenes; signal transduction
Amplification of the HER2 (ErbB2, c-Neu) proto-oncogene in breast cancer is associated with poor prognosis and high relapse rates. HER2/ErbB2, in conjunction with ErbB3, signals through the Akt/PI3-K pathway and leads to the activation of mTOR, a critical mRNA translation regulator that controls cell growth. Gene expression analysis of mammary tumors collected from MMTV-c-Neu transgenic mice revealed that mRNA levels of several mTOR pathway members were either up-regulated (p85/PI3-K and p70S6K) or down-regulated (eIF4E-BP1) in a manner expected to enhance signaling through this pathway. Treatment of MMTV-c-Neu transgenic mice with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin caused growth arrest and regression of primary tumors with no evidence of weight loss or generalized toxicity. The treatment effects were due to decreased proliferation, associated with reduced cyclin D1 expression, and increased cell death in primary tumors. While many of the dead epithelial cells had the histopathologic characteristics of ischemic necrosis, rapamycin treatment was not associated with changes in microvascular density or apoptosis. Rapamycin also inhibited cellular proliferation in lung metastases. In summary, data from this preclinical model of ErbB2/Neu-induced breast cancer demonstrate that inhibition of the mTOR pathway with rapamycin blocks multiple stages of ErbB2/Neu-induced tumorigenic progression.
Breast cancer; HER2/Neu/erbB2; transgenic mouse; rapamycin; metastasis
Both H4K16 acetylation and H3K4 tri-methylation are required for gene activation. However, it is still largely unclear how these modifications are orchestrated by transcriptional factors. Here we analyzed the mechanism of the transcriptional activation by FOXP3, an X-linked suppressor of autoimmune diseases and cancers. FOXP3 binds near transcriptional start sites of its target genes. By recruiting MOF and displacing histone H3K4 demethylase PLU-1, FOXP3 increases both H4K16 acetylation and H3K4 tri-methylation at the FOXP3-associated chromatins of multiple FOXP3-activated genes. RNAi-mediated silencing of MOF reduced both gene activation and tumor suppression by FOXP3, while both somatic mutations in clinical cancer samples and targeted mutation of FOXP3 in mouse prostate epithelial disrupted nuclear localization of MOF. Our data demonstrate a pull-push model in which a single transcription factor orchestrates two epigenetic alterations necessary for gene activation and provide a mechanism for somatic inactivation of the FOXP3 protein function in cancer cells.
Accumulating evidence indicates a functional crosstalk between the HER2 (ErbB2) tyrosine kinase and the TGF-β signaling mediated by its serine/threonine kinase receptors. In HER2-overexpressing breast cancer, this crosstalk results in increased cancer cell proliferation, survival and invasion, accelerated cancer progression and metastasis in animal models, and resistance to chemotherapy and HER2-targeted therapy. The transformed cellular context with constitutively active HER2 signaling, as a consequence of HER2 gene amplification or overexpression, converts TGF-β from a tumor suppressor to a malignancy-promoting factor. TGF-β, in turn, potentiates oncogenic HER2 signaling by inducing shedding of the ErbB ligands and clustering of HER2 with integrins. In addition, TGF-β is associated with resistance to trastuzumab, an anti-HER2 therapeutic antibody. Recent mechanistic studies indicate that TGF-β and HER2 cooperate through both Smad-dependent and independent mechanisms. Blockade of HER2:TGF-β crosstalk may significantly enhance the efficiency of conventional therapies in breast cancer patients with HER2 overexpression.
The ErbB/EGFR/HER family of kinases consists of four homologous receptor tyrosine kinases which are important regulatory elements in many cellular processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Somatic mutations in, or over-expression of, the ErbB family is found in many cancers and is correlated with a poor prognosis; particularly, clinically identified mutations found in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) of ErbB1 have been shown to increase its basal kinase activity and patients carrying these mutations respond remarkably to the small tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib. Here, we analyze the potential effects of the currently catalogued clinically identified mutations in the ErbB family kinase domains on the molecular mechanisms of kinase activation. Recently, we identified conserved networks of hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions characteristic to the active and inactive conformation, respectively. Here, we show that the clinically identified mutants influence the kinase activity in distinctive fashion by affecting the characteristic interaction networks.
ErbB/EGFR/HER kinase; multiscale modeling; somatic mutation; ERK/Akt activation
Loss of the tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) and amplification or elevated expression of ErbB-2 are both involved in human breast cancer. To directly test the importance of these genetic events in mammary tumorigenesis, we have assessed whether mammary-specific disruption of PTEN could cooperate with activation of ErbB-2. Transgenic mice expressing ErbB-2 under the transcriptional control of its endogenous promoter (ErbB-2KI) were interbred with mice carrying conditional PTEN alleles and an MMTV/Cre transgene. Loss of one or both PTEN alleles resulted in a dramatic acceleration of mammary tumor onset and an increased occurrence of lung metastases in the ErbB-2KI strain. Tumor progression in PTEN-deficient/ErbB-2KI strains was associated with elevated ErbB-2 protein levels, which were not due to ErbB-2 amplification or to a dramatic increase in ErbB-2 transcripts. Moreover, the PTEN-deficient/ErbB-2KI–derived mouse mammary tumors display striking morphologic heterogeneity in comparison with the homogeneous pathology of the ErbB-2KI parental strain. Therefore, inactivation of PTEN would not only have a dramatic effect on ErbB-2–induced mammary tumorigenesis but would also lead to the formation of mammary tumors that, in part, display pathologic and molecular features associated with the basal-like subtype of primary human breast cancer.
Oncogene signaling is known to deregulate cell proliferation resulting in uncontrolled growth and cellular transformation. Gene amplification and/or somatic mutations of the HER2/Neu (ErbB2) proto-oncogene occur in approximately 20% of breast cancers. A therapeutic strategy that has been used to block HER2 function is the small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib. Using human mammary epithelial cells that overexpress HER2, we determined the anti-proliferative effect of lapatinib through measuring the total cell number and analyzing the cell cycle distribution. A mathematical model was used to interpret the experimental data.
The model suggests that lapatinib acts as expected by slowing the transition through G1 phase. However, the experimental data indicated a previously unreported late cytotoxic effect, which was incorporated into the model. Both effects depend on the dosage of the drug, which shows saturation kinetics.
The model separates quantitatively the cytostatic and cytotoxic effects of lapatinib and may have implications for preclinical studies with other anti-oncogene therapies.
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
Forkhead-box protein P2 is a transcription factor that has been associated with intriguing aspects of cognitive function in humans, non-human mammals, and song-learning birds. Heterozygous mutations of the human FOXP2 gene cause a monogenic speech and language disorder. Reduced functional dosage of the mouse version (Foxp2) causes deficient cortico-striatal synaptic plasticity and impairs motor-skill learning. Moreover, the songbird orthologue appears critically important for vocal learning. Across diverse vertebrate species, this well-conserved transcription factor is highly expressed in the developing and adult central nervous system. Very little is known about the mechanisms regulated by Foxp2 during brain development. We used an integrated functional genomics strategy to robustly define Foxp2-dependent pathways, both direct and indirect targets, in the embryonic brain. Specifically, we performed genome-wide in vivo ChIP–chip screens for Foxp2-binding and thereby identified a set of 264 high-confidence neural targets under strict, empirically derived significance thresholds. The findings, coupled to expression profiling and in situ hybridization of brain tissue from wild-type and mutant mouse embryos, strongly highlighted gene networks linked to neurite development. We followed up our genomics data with functional experiments, showing that Foxp2 impacts on neurite outgrowth in primary neurons and in neuronal cell models. Our data indicate that Foxp2 modulates neuronal network formation, by directly and indirectly regulating mRNAs involved in the development and plasticity of neuronal connections.
Foxp2 codes for an intriguing regulatory protein that provides a window into unusual aspects of brain function in multiple species. For example, the gene is implicated in speech and language disorders in humans, song learning in songbirds, and learning of rapid movement sequences in mice. Foxp2 acts by tuning the expression levels of other genes (its downstream targets). In this study we used genome-wide techniques to comprehensively identify the major targets of Foxp2 in the embryonic brain, in order to understand its roles in fundamental biological pathways during neurodevelopment, which we followed up through functional analyses of neurons. Most notably, we found that Foxp2 directly and indirectly regulates networks of genes that alter the length and branching of neuronal projections, an important route for modulating the wiring of neural connections in the developing brain. Overall, our findings shed light on how Foxp2 directs particular features of nervous system development, helping us to build bridges between genes and complex aspects of brain function.
The Scurfy mutation of the FoxP3 gene (FoxP3sf) in the mouse and analogous mutations in human result in lethal autoimmunity. The mutation of FoxP3 in the hematopoietic cells impairs the development of regulatory T cells. In addition, development of the Scurfy disease also may require mutation of the gene in nonhematopoietic cells. The T cell–extrinsic function of FoxP3 has not been characterized. Here we show that the FoxP3sf mutation leads to defective thymopoiesis, which is caused by inactivation of FoxP3 in the thymic stromal cells. FoxP3 mutation also results in overexpression of ErbB2 in the thymic stroma, which may be involved in defective thymopoiesis. Our data reveal a novel T cell–extrinsic function of FoxP3. In combination, the T cell–intrinsic and –extrinsic defects provide plausible explanation for the severity of the autoimmune diseases in the scurfy mice and in patients who have immunodysregulation, polyendocrinopathy, enteropathy, and X-linked syndrome.
The HER2/c-erbB-2 gene encodes the epidermal growth factor receptorlike human homolog of the rat neu oncogene. Amplification of this gene in primary breast carcinomas has been show to correlate with poor clinical prognosis for certain cancer patients. We show here that a monoclonal antibody directed against the extracellular domain of p185HER2 specifically inhibits the growth of breast tumor-derived cell lines overexpressing the HER2/c-erbB-2 gene product and prevents HER2/c-erbB-2-transformed NIH 3T3 cells from forming colonies in soft agar. Furthermore, resistance to the cytotoxic effect of tumor necrosis factor alpha, which has been shown to be a consequence of HER2/c-erbB-2 overexpression, is significantly reduced in the presence of this antibody.
The oncogene erbB2 is overexpressed in 20% to 30% human breast cancers and is most commonly overexpressed in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancers. Transgenic mice expressing erbB2 develop ER-negative mammary tumors, mimicking human breast carcinogenesis. Previously, we have shown that activator protein 1 (AP-1) regulates proliferation of ER-negative breast cancer cells. We hypothesized that blockade of AP-1 in mouse mammary epithelial cells will suppress ER-negative tumorigenesis induced by erbB2. Trigenic erbB2 mice were generated by crossing a bigenic pUHD-Tam67/MMTV-rtTA mouse to a MMTV-erbB2 mouse. The resulting trigenic mice develop tumors and express a doxycycline-inducible c-Jun dominant negative mutant (Tam67) in the mammary glands. In vivo AP-1 blockade by Tam67 expression delayed mammary tumor formation in MMTV-erbB2 mice by more than 11 weeks. By 52 weeks of age, 100% (18 of 18) of the untreated animals had developed mammary tumors, whereas 56% (9 of 16) of the doxycycline-treated trigenic mice developed tumors. In addition, the tumors that arose in the AP-1-blocked erbB2 mice failed to express Tam67. Twenty-five percent of the doxycycline-treated MMTV-erbB2 mice survived more than 72 weeks of age without developing mammary tumors. Examination of normal-appearing mammary glands from these mice showed that AP-1 blockade by Tam67 also significantly prevents the development of premalignant lesions in these glands. The expression of erbB2 either in normal mammary tissue or in mammary tumors was not altered. Our results show that blocking the AP-1 signaling in mammary cells suppresses erbB2-induced transformation, and show that the AP-1 transcription factor is a critical transducer of erbB2. These results provide a scientific rationale to develop targeted drugs that inhibit AP-1 to prevent the development of ER-negative breast cancer.
Amplification and overexpression of the erbB-2 oncogene is an unfavourable prognostic marker in human breast cancer and occurs in approximately 25% of breast carcinomas. We used erbB-2 antisense oligonucleotides to inhibit the proliferation of human breast cancer cell lines. erbB-2 antisense oligonucleotides (20 microM) inhibited the growth and DNA synthesis of breast cancer cell lines with an amplified erbB-2 gene by up to 60%. Control complementary sense oligonucleotides did not inhibit cellular proliferation at the same concentration but showed inhibitory effects at higher concentrations. There was no specific effect of erbB-2 antisense oligonucleotides on breast cancer cell lines that had no amplification of erbB-2. erbB-2 antisense oligonucleotides reduced erbB-2 protein levels, measured by immunohistochemistry, in a dose-dependent manner. erbB-2 sense oligonucleotides did not decrease the levels of erbB-2 protein. These data indicate that erbB-2 antisense oligonucleotides induce a specific inhibition of erbB-2 protein expression and that erbB-2 gene overexpression is important for the proliferation of the breast cancer cells that have been selected for erbB-2 amplification.
Signaling by members of the epidermal growth factor receptor family plays an important role in breast development and breast cancer. Earlier work suggested that one of these receptors, ErbB4, is coupled to unique responses in this tissue. To determine the function of ErbB4 signaling in the normal mouse mammary gland, we inactivated ErbB4 signaling by expressing a COOH terminally deleted dominant-negative allele of ErbB4 (ErbB4ΔIC) as a transgene in the mammary gland. Despite the expression of ErbB4ΔIC from puberty through later stages of mammary development, an ErbB4ΔIC-specific phenotype was not observed until mid-lactation. At 12-d postpartum, lobuloalveoli expressing ErbB4ΔIC protein were condensed and lacked normal lumenal lactation products. In these lobuloalveoli, β-casein mRNA, detected by in situ hybridization, was normal. However, whey acidic protein mRNA was reduced, and α-lactalbumin mRNA was undetectable. Stat5 expression was detected by immunohistochemistry in ErbB4ΔIC-expressing tissue. However, Stat5 was not phosphorylated at Y694 and was, therefore, probably inactive. When expressed transiently in 293T cells, ErbB4 induced phosphorylation of Stat5. This phosphorylation required an intact Stat5 SH2 domain. In summary, our results demonstrate that ErbB4 signaling is necessary for mammary terminal differentiation and Stat5 activation at mid-lactation.
ErbB4; Stat5; dominant-negative mutant; transgenic mice; mammary gland development
Several oncogenes and tumour-suppressor genes have been identified that may have an important role in the development of human breast carcinoma. Furthermore, some of these gene alterations may be linked to the development of invasion and subsequent metastasis. Alterations in the expression of ras p21, p53 and c-erbB-2 have all been linked to tumours with rapid cellular proliferation, but the evidence that they are of prognostic importance in patients with breast cancer is conflicting. This study explores the relationship between expression of these oncoproteins and clinical outcome in 92 patients with either locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer treated with primary endocrine therapy. Specimens of the primary carcinoma were available for analysis of hormone receptor, Ki67 labelling index, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), c-erbB-2, p53 and ras p21. Clinical response was measured according to UICC criteria after 6 months of treatment and all patients were followed for time to progression and overall survival. As shown previously, oestrogen receptor (ER) negativity, high Ki67 labelling index and EGFR overexpression were associated with a shorter time to progression and overall survival. However, no statistically significant relationship existed between expression of ras p21, p53 or c-erbB-2 and response to treatment, time to progression or overall survival. We conclude that staining for these three oncoproteins has no role in therapeutic decision-making in patients with advanced breast cancer. The negative finding implies that while abnormal expression of these genes may have an important role in the development of breast cancer, the variations in growth characteristics of advanced breast cancer may be influenced by other factors.