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1.  Breast cancer metastasis driven by ErbB2 and 14-3-3ξ 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2010;4(1):7-9.
Metastasis remains the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality. ErbB2, a metastasis-promoting oncoprotein, is overexpressed in 50–60% of noninvasive ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). However, only 25% of invasive breast cancer (IBC) overexpress ErbB2, indicating that ErbB2 alone is not sufficient to drive metastasis and additional risk factors are necessary for the progression of ErbB2-overexpressing DCIS to IBC. A recent study published in Cancer Cell identified 14-3-3ξ as a risk factor aiding the transition of ErbB2-overexpressing DCIS into IBC. Furthermore, the study elucidated molecular mechanisms by which ErbB2 and 14-3-3ξ co-overexpression drives metastasis. Namely, ErbB2 promotes cell motility and migration via the activation of Src, while 14-3-3ξ induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition by activating TGFβ pathway to reduce cell adhesion. On the other hand, two studies recently published in British Journal of Cancer and Oncogene provide mechanistic insight into how ErbB signalling is transduced via Src, focal adhesion kinase and Ste20-like kinase to regulate focal adhesion turnover and modulate cell motility and migration. Taken together, these studies reveal that metastasis engages a variety of players that must show team spirit to win the game of spreading.
PMCID: PMC2852551  PMID: 20009581
ErbB2; 14-3-3ξ; metastasis; invasive breast cancer; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; focal adhesion; cell motility; cell adhesion
2.  ErbB2, FoxM1 and 14-3-3ζ prime breast cancer cells for invasion in response to ionizing radiation 
Oncogene  2013;33(5):589-598.
ErbB2 is frequently highly expressed in premalignant breast cancers, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS); however, little is known about the signals or pathways it contributes to progression into the invasive/malignant state. Radiotherapy is often used to treat early premalignant lesions regardless of ErbB2 status. Here, we show that clinically relevant doses of ionizing radiation (IR)-induce cellular invasion of ErbB2-expressing breast cancer cells, as well as MCF10A cells overexpressing ErbB2. ErbB2-negative breast cancer cells, such as MCF7 and T47D, do not invade following treatment with IR nor do MCF10A cells overexpressing epidermal growth factor receptor. ErbB2 becomes phosphorylated at tyrosine 877 in a dose- and time- dependent manner following exposure to X-rays, and activates downstream signaling cascades including PI3K/Akt. Inhibition of these pathways, as well as inhibition of reactive oxygen species (ROS) with antioxidants, prevents IR-induced invasion. Activation of ErbB2-dependent signaling results in upregulation of the forkhead family transcription factor, FoxM1, and its transcriptional targets, including matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2). Inhibition of FoxM1 by RNA interference prevented induction of invasion by IR, and overexpression of FoxM1 in MCF10A cells was sufficient to promote IR-induced invasion. Moreover, we found that 14-3-3ζ is also upregulated by IR in cancer cells in a ROS-dependent manner, is required for IR-induced invasion in ErbB2-positive breast cancer cells and together with FoxM1 is sufficient for invasion in ErbB2-negative breast cancer cells. Thus, our data show that IR-mediated activation of ErbB2 and induction of 14-3-3ζ collaborate to regulate FoxM1 and promote invasion of breast cancer cells and furthermore, may serve as therapeutic targets to enhance radiosensitivity of breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC3966179  PMID: 23318431
ErbB2; FoxM1; 14-3-3ζ; invasion; reactive oxygen species
3.  c-erbB-2 overexpression and histological type of in situ and invasive breast carcinoma. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1992;45(1):16-20.
AIMS: To assess c-erbB-2 immunostaining in relation to morphological type of in situ and invasive breast carcinoma. METHODS: Formalin fixed, wax embedded archival tissue was used. Invasive carcinomas comprised 50 infiltrating ductal (NOS); seven medullary, 10 tubular, 15 mucinous and 24 classic invasive lobular. In situ carcinomas comprised 48 ductal (DCIS) and 10 cases of lobular (LCIS). The antibodies used were pAB1 (polyclonal) which stains cell lines that over express the c-erbB-2 oncogene, and ICR 12 (monoclonal) which stains sections of breast carcinoma known to show c-erbB-2 amplification. RESULTS: Immunostaining consistent with c-erbB-2 overexpression was found in 10 out of 50 cases of infiltrating ductal carcinoma (NOS), one of 24 infiltrating lobular carcinomas and one of seven medullary carcinomas only. Seventy per cent of ICR 12 positive cases of infiltrating ductal carcinoma also had extratumoral DCIS. Forty six per cent of pure DCIS lesions also showed strong membrane staining for c-erbB-2 protein, confined to large cell types. CONCLUSIONS: Immunostaining for c-erb B-2 oncoprotein occurs mainly in large cell DCIS and infiltrating ductal carcinoma NOS, especially those with an extratumoral DCIS component. There is a low incidence in other types of breast cancer, including those associated with a better prognosis. Different biological mechanisms may be responsible for histologically distinct types of breast carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC495801  PMID: 1346789
4.  Expression of c-erbB3 protein in primary breast carcinomas. 
British Journal of Cancer  1998;78(10):1385-1390.
Expression of c-erbB3 protein was investigated in 104 primary breast carcinomas comprising nine comedo ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), 91 invasive ductal carcinomas and four invasive lobular carcinomas using two monoclonal antibodies, RTJ1 and RTJ2. Of the 91 invasive ductal carcinomas, seven contained the comedo DCIS component adjacent to the invasive component. An immunohistochemical technique was used to evaluate the association between expression of c-erbB3 and clinical parameters and tumour markers such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), c-erbB2, cathepsin-D and p53 in archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumour tissues. Our results indicated that RTJ1 and RTJ2 gave identical staining patterns and concordant results. It was found that the overexpression of c-erbB3 protein was observed in 67% (6/9) of comedo DCIS, 52% (44/84) of invasive ductal carcinomas, 71% (5/7) of carcinomas containing both the in situ and invasive lesions and 25% (1/4) of invasive lobular carcinomas. A significant relationship (P < 0.05) was observed between strong immunoreactivity of c-erbB3 protein and histological grade, EGFR and cathepsin-D, but not with expression of c-erbB2, p53, oestrogen receptor status, lymph node metastases or age of patient. However, we noted that a high percentage of oestrogen receptor-negative tumours (59%), lymph node-positive tumours (63%) and c-erbB2 (63%) were strongly positive for c-erbB3 protein. We have also documented that a high percentage of EGFR (67%), c-erbB2 (67%), p53 (75%) and cathepsin-D-positive DCIS (60%) were strongly positive for c-erbB3. These observations suggest that overexpression of c-erbB3 protein could play an important role in tumour progression from non-invasive to invasive and, also, that it may have the potential to be used as a marker for poor prognosis of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2063171  PMID: 9823984
5.  FAK signaling is critical for ErbB-2/ErbB-3 receptor cooperation for oncogenic transformation and invasion 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;171(3):505-516.
The overexpression of members of the ErbB tyrosine kinase receptor family has been associated with cancer progression. We demonstrate that focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is essential for oncogenic transformation and cell invasion that is induced by ErbB-2 and -3 receptor signaling. ErbB-2/3 overexpression in FAK-deficient cells fails to promote cell transformation and rescue chemotaxis deficiency. Restoration of FAK rescues both oncogenic transformation and invasion that is induced by ErbB-2/3 in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, the inhibition of FAK in FAK-proficient invasive cancer cells prevented cell invasion and metastasis formation. The activation of ErbB-2/3 regulates FAK phosphorylation at Tyr-397, -861, and -925. ErbB-induced oncogenic transformation correlates with the ability of FAK to restore ErbB-2/3–induced mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation; the inhibition of MAPK prevented oncogenic transformation. In contrast, the inhibition of Src but not MAPK prevented ErbB–FAK-induced chemotaxis. In migratory cells, activated ErbB-2/3 receptors colocalize with activated FAK at cell protrusions. This colocalization requires intact FAK. In summary, distinct FAK signaling has an essential function in ErbB-induced oncogenesis and invasiveness.
PMCID: PMC2171271  PMID: 16275754
6.  Combined Inhibition of ErbB1/2 and Notch Receptors Effectively Targets Breast Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) Stem/Progenitor Cell Activity Regardless of ErbB2 Status 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56840.
Pathways involved in DCIS stem and progenitor signalling are poorly understood yet are critical to understand DCIS biology and to develop new therapies. Notch and ErbB1/2 receptor signalling cross talk has been demonstrated in invasive breast cancer, but their role in DCIS stem and progenitor cells has not been investigated. We have utilised 2 DCIS cell lines, (ErbB2-normal) and SUM225 (ErbB2-overexpressing) and 7 human primary DCIS samples were cultured in 3D matrigel and as mammospheres in the presence, absence or combination of the Notch inhibitor, DAPT, and ErbB1/2 inhibitors, lapatinib or gefitinib. Western blotting was applied to assess downstream signalling. In this study we demonstrate that DAPT reduced acini size and mammosphere formation in whereas there was no effect in SUM225. Lapatinb reduced acini size and mammosphere formation in SUM225, whereas mammosphere formation and Notch1 activity were increased in Combined DAPT/lapatinib treatment was more effective at reducing acini size in both DCIS cell lines. Mammosphere formation in cell lines and human primary DCIS was reduced further by DAPT/lapatinib or DAPT/gefitinib regardless of ErbB2 receptor status. Our pre-clinical human models of DCIS demonstrate that Notch and ErbB1/2 both play a role in DCIS acini growth and stem cell activity. We report for the first time that cross talk between the two pathways in DCIS occurs regardless of ErbB2 receptor status and inhibition of Notch and ErbB1/2 was more efficacious than either alone. These data provide further understanding of DCIS biology and suggest treatment strategies combining Notch and ErbB1/2 inhibitors should be investigated regardless of ErbB2 receptor status.
PMCID: PMC3572946  PMID: 23457626
7.  X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein Inhibits Apoptosis in Inflammatory Breast Cancer Cells with Acquired Resistance to an ErbB1/2 Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(5):1432-1442.
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.
PMCID: PMC2957814  PMID: 20406946
IRES; embelin; survivin; FOXO3a; p-AKT
8.  Persistent transactivation of EGFR and ErbB2/HER2 by protease-activated receptor-1 promotes breast carcinoma cell invasion 
Oncogene  2008;27(32):4434-4445.
Hyperactivation of ErbB signaling is implicated in metastatic breast cancer. However, the mechanisms that cause dysregulated ErbB signaling and promote breast carcinoma cell invasion remain poorly understood. One pathway leading to ErbB activation that remains unexplored in breast carcinoma cell invasion involves transactivation by G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR1), a GPCR activated by extracellular proteases, is overexpressed in invasive breast cancer. PAR1 is also proposed to function in breast cancer invasion and metastasis, but how PAR1 contributes to these processes is not known. In this study, we report that proteolytic activation of PAR1 by thrombin induces persistent transactivation of EGFR and ErbB2/HER2 in invasive breast carcinoma, but not in normal mammary epithelial cells. PAR1-stimulated EGFR and ErbB2 transactivation leads to prolonged extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1 and −2 signaling and promotes breast carcinoma cell invasion. We also show that PAR1 signaling through Gαi/o and metalloprotease activity is critical for ErbB transactivation and cellular invasion. Finally, we demonstrate that PAR1 expression in invasive breast carcinoma is essential for tumor growth in vivo assessed by mammary fat pad xenografts. These studies reveal a critical role for PAR1, a receptor activated by tumor-generated proteases, in hyperactivation of ErbB signaling that promotes breast carcinoma cell invasion.
PMCID: PMC2874884  PMID: 18372913
thrombin; GPCR; metalloprotease; MDA-MB-231; G protein
9.  Apocrine adenosis: a precursor of aggressive breast cancer? 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1995;48(8):737-742.
AIM--To investigate overexpression of c-erbB2, expression of the p53 protein product and proliferation rates in benign breast lesions with specific reference to apocrine adenosis. METHODS--Twenty one cases of apocrine adenosis were stained with monoclonal antibodies to p185, the protein product of the c-erbB2 oncogene, the protein product of the p53 tumour suppressor gene and to the cell cycle related protein Ki67. Three cases were associated with concomitant ductal carcinoma in situ of large cell type and two were associated with invasive tubular or cribriform carcinoma. RESULTS--Twelve (57.1%) cases showed membrane staining for c-erbB2 oncoprotein of apocrine cells within sclerosing adenosis and six (28.6%) had occasional p53 protein positive cells. One case not associated with carcinoma showed extensive staining of apocrine metaplasia outside the area of apocrine adenosis. The proliferation rate, as measured by Ki67 staining, was increased in some of the lesions and all lesions showed at least some of the cells to be in the cell cycle. CONCLUSIONS--The expression of abnormal oncogene products and increased proliferation in some of these apocrine lesions questions the supposed degenerative nature of the atypia seen in such cases and suggests that there may be an association between these lesions and large cell ductal carcinoma in situ and hence invasive carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC502801  PMID: 7560201
10.  Tumour markers in breast carcinoma correlate with grade rather than with invasiveness 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;85(6):869-874.
Ductal breast carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is regarded as a precursor to invasive breast cancer. The progression from in situ to invasive cancer is however little understood. We compared some tumour markers in invasive and in situ breast carcinomas trying to find steps in this progression. We designed a semi-experimental setting and compared histopathological grading and tumour marker expression in pure DCIS (n = 194), small invasive lesions (n = 127) and lesions with both an invasive and in situ component (n = 305). Grading was done according to the Elston–Ellis and EORTC classification systems, respectively. Immunohistochemical staining was conducted for p53, c-erbB-2, Ki-67, ER, PR, bcl-2 and angiogenesis. All markers correlated with grade rather than with invasiveness. No marker was clearly associated with the progression from in situ to invasiveness. The expression of tumour markers was almost identical in the 2 components of mixed lesions. DCIS as a group showed a more ‘malignant picture' than invasive cancer according to the markers, probably, due to a higher proportion of poorly differentiated lesions. The step between in situ and invasive cancer seems to occur independently of tumour grade. The results suggest that well-differentiated DCIS progress to well-differentiated invasive cancer and poorly differentiated DCIS progress to poorly differentiated invasive cancer. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2375068  PMID: 11556839
breast cancer; invasive; in situ; progression
11.  A new model for ductal carcinoma in situ suggests strategies for treatment 
Breast Cancer Research  2002;4(5):176-178.
Human ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast is now diagnosed quite frequently, due largely to the introduction of mammographic screening. It has been shown in a cell culture system that activation of c-erbB-2, but not the epidermal growth factor receptor, results in a DCIS-like phenotype. Since overexpression of c-erbB-2 occurs in 60% of DCIS, this suggests that it could be a target for treatment in this disease.
PMCID: PMC138739  PMID: 12223119
ductal carcinoma in situ; growth factor receptor; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
12.  When Good Turns Bad: Regulation of Invasion and Metastasis by ErbB2 Receptor Tyrosine Kinase 
Cells  2014;3(1):53-78.
Overexpression and activation of ErbB2 receptor tyrosine kinase in breast cancer is strongly linked to an aggressive disease with high potential for invasion and metastasis. In addition to inducing very aggressive, metastatic cancer, ErbB2 activation mediates processes such as increased cancer cell proliferation and survival and is needed for normal physiological activities, such as heart function and development of the nervous system. How does ErbB2 activation make cancer cells invasive and when? Comprehensive understanding of the cellular mechanisms leading to ErbB2-induced malignant processes is necessary for answering these questions. Here we present current knowledge about the invasion-promoting function of ErbB2 and the mechanisms involved in it. Obtaining detailed information about the “bad” behavior of ErbB2 can facilitate development of novel treatments against ErbB2-positive cancers.
PMCID: PMC3980748  PMID: 24709902
cathepsin B; cathepsin L; matrix metalloprotease; p95 ErbB2; p21-activated protein kinase; transforming growth factor β
13.  Minimal breast cancer: evaluation of histology and biological marker expression 
British Journal of Cancer  1999;80(10):1608-1616.
Ninety-eight minimal breast cancers (MBCs) diagnosed between 1975 and 1990, and all originally considered to be invasive were found, on review, to form three groups: (a) 28 predominantly invasive carcinomas ≤10 mm (‘predominant invasive’); (b) 48 predominantly ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) lesions with definite foci of invasion each ≤10 mm (‘predominant DCIS’); and (c) 22 DCIS without evidence of invasion (‘pure DCIS’). Tumour histology and immunohistochemical expression of Ki-67, c-erbB2, p53, oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and Bcl-2 were compared. The major finding was the contrasting features in the two invasive groups, with significant differences in their extent of invasion (P < 0.0001), tumour grade (P = 0.03), DCIS type (P = 0.008) and in marker expression. In the predominant invasive group, the infiltrative component was usually greater than 5 mm, low-grade and associated with well-differentiated DCIS. Expression of Ki-67, c-erbB2 and p53 was generally low, and that of ER, PR and Bcl-2 high. The predominant DCIS group in contrast had a much smaller, commonly high-grade, invasive component, usually with poorly differentiated DCIS and the reverse pattern of marker expression. Although not significant, survival of patients in the predominant invasive group was slightly better. These findings suggest that invasive MBCs should perhaps be treated as separate entities, in order to aid more appropriate selection of treatment. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2363109  PMID: 10408407
minimal breast cancer; differentiation; marker expression
14.  A complex containing LPP and α-Actinin mediates TGFβ-induced migration and invasion of ErbB2-expressing breast cancer cells 
Journal of cell science  2013;126(0 9):1981-1991.
Transforming Growth Factor β is a potent modifier of the malignant phenotype in ErbB2-expressing breast cancers. We demonstrate that epithelial-derived breast cancer cells, which undergo a TGFβ-induced EMT, engage signaling molecules that normally facilitate cellular migration and invasion of mesenchymal cells. We identify Lipoma Preferred Partner (LPP) as an indispensable regulator of TGFβ-induced migration and invasion of ErbB2-expressing breast cancer cells. We show that LPP re-localizes to focal adhesion complexes upon TGFβ stimulation and is a critical determinant in TGFβ-mediated focal adhesion turnover. Finally, we have determined that the interaction between LPP and α-Actinin, an actin cross-linking protein, is necessary for TGFβ-induced migration and invasion of ErbB2-expressing breast cancer cells. Thus, our data reveals that LPP, which is normally operative in cells of mesenchymal origin, can be co-opted by breast cancer cells during an EMT to promote their migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3791827  PMID: 23447672
breast cancer; ErbB2; TGFβ; EMT; LPP; migration; invasion
15.  erbB-2 antisense oligonucleotides inhibit the proliferation of breast carcinoma cells with erbB-2 oncogene amplification. 
British Journal of Cancer  1994;70(5):819-825.
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.
PMCID: PMC2033560  PMID: 7947086
16.  p53 protein expression in human breast carcinoma: relationship to expression of epidermal growth factor receptor, c-erbB-2 protein overexpression, and oestrogen receptor. 
British Journal of Cancer  1992;66(3):583-588.
The expression of p53 protein, oestrogen receptor protein, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and overexpression of the c-erbB-2 oncoprotein was examined in a series of 149 primary symptomatic breast carcinomas. Expression of p53 was present in 62 of 146 cases (42.5%) of the invasive carcinoma and one of three cases (33.3%) of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) examined. Statistical associations of tumour oestrogen receptor positivity and lack of p53 protein expression, chi 2 = 19.78 (d.f. = 1), P less than 0.001, positive tumour p53 status and poor tumour grade; chi 2 = 14.1 (d.f. = 2), P less than 0.001, EGFR expression chi 2 = 7.07, (d.f. = 1), P less than 0.01 and tumour c-erbB-2 protein overexpression; chi 2 = 4.61 (d.f. = 1), P = 0.032 were identified. Expression of p53 is rare in invasive lobular carcinoma of classical type (8.3% of cases examined) in contrast to other common types of mammary carcinoma. Non-significant trends of p53 protein expression and increased regional tumour recurrence; chi 2 = 3.20 (d.f. = 1), P = 0.074 and also poorer patient survival; chi 2 = 3.76 (d.f. = 1), P = 0.053 were identified. p53 protein expression is a common event in human breast cancer and is present in both DCIS and invasive mammary carcinoma. Abnormal expression of p53 protein is a feature of both in situ and invasive breast carcinoma, implying that the abnormal p53 protein expression may be implicated in the early stages of mammary carcinoma progression.
PMCID: PMC1977948  PMID: 1355662
17.  Proteolytic Cleavage and Phosphorylation of a Tumor-associated ErbB4 Isoform Promote Ligand-independent Survival and Cancer Cell GrowthD⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(1):67-79.
The ErbB1 and ErbB2 receptors are oncogenes with therapeutic significance in human cancer, whereas the transforming potential of the related ErbB4 receptor has remained controversial. Here, we have addressed whether four alternatively spliced ErbB4 isoforms differ in regulating cellular responses relevant for tumor growth. We show that the two tumor necrosis factor-α converting enzyme (TACE)-cleavable ErbB4 isoforms (the juxtamembrane [JM]-a isoforms) were overexpressed in a subset of primary human breast cancers together with TACE. The overexpression of the JM-a cytoplasmic (CYT)-2 ErbB4 isoform promoted ErbB4 phosphorylation, survival of interleukin-3-dependent cells, and proliferation of breast cancer cells even in the absence of ligand stimulation, whereas activation of the other three ErbB4 isoforms required ligand stimulation. Ligand-independent cellular responses to ErbB4 JM-a CYT-2 overexpression were regulated by both tyrosine kinase activity and a two-step proteolytic generation of an intracellular receptor fragment involving first a TACE-like proteinase, followed by γ-secretase activity. These data suggest a novel transforming mechanism for the ErbB4 receptor in human breast cancer that is 1) specific for a single receptor isoform and 2) depends on proteinase cleavage and kinase activity but not ligand activation of the receptor.
PMCID: PMC1345647  PMID: 16251361
18.  Functional cooperation of miR-125a, miR-125b, and miR-205 in entinostat-induced downregulation of erbB2/erbB3 and apoptosis in breast cancer cells 
Wang, S | Huang, J | Lyu, H | Lee, C-K | Tan, J | Wang, J | Liu, B
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(3):e556-.
We reported that the class I HDAC inhibitor entinostat induced apoptosis in erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells via downregulation of erbB2 and erbB3. Here, we study the molecular mechanism by which entinostat dual-targets erbB2/erbB3. Treatment with entinostat had no effect on erbB2/erbB3 mRNA, suggesting a transcription-independent mechanism. Entinostat decreased endogenous but not exogenous erbB2/erbB3, indicating it did not alter their protein stability. We hypothesized that entinostat might inhibit erbB2/erbB3 protein translation via specific miRNAs. Indeed, entinostat significantly upregulated miR-125a, miR-125b, and miR-205, that have been reported to target erbB2 and/or erbB3. Specific inhibitors were then used to determine whether these miRNAs had a causal role in entinostat-induced downregulation of erbB2/erbB3 and apoptosis. Transfection with a single inhibitor dramatically abrogated entinostat induction of miR-125a, miR-125b, or miR-205; however, none of the inhibitors blocked entinostat action on erbB2/erbB3. In contrast, co-transfection with two inhibitors not only reduced their corresponding miRNAs, but also significantly abrogated entinostat-mediated reduction of erbB2/erbB3. Moreover, simultaneous inhibition of two, but not one miRNA significantly attenuated entinostat-induced apoptosis. Interestingly, although the other HDAC inhibitors, such as SAHA and panobinostat, exhibited activity as potent as entinostat to induce growth inhibition and apoptosis in erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells, they had no significant effects on the three miRNAs. Instead, both SAHA- and panobinostat-decreased erbB2/erbB3 expression correlated with the reduction of their mRNA levels. Collectively, we demonstrate that entinostat specifically induces expression of miR-125a, miR-125b, and miR-205, which act in concert to downregulate erbB2/erbB3 in breast cancer cells. Our data suggest that epigenetic regulation via miRNA-dependent or -independent mechanisms may represent a novel approach to treat breast cancer patients with erbB2-overexpressing tumors.
PMCID: PMC3615747  PMID: 23519125
entinostat; HDAC; miRNA; erbB2; erbB3; breast cancer
19.  ErbB-2 signals through Plexin-B1 to promote breast cancer metastasis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(4):1296-1305.
Diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is associated with a very poor prognosis. New therapeutic targets are urgently needed, but their development is hampered by a lack of understanding of the mechanisms leading to tumor metastasis. Exemplifying this is the fact that the approximately 30% of all breast cancers overexpressing the receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB-2 are characterized by high metastatic potential and poor prognosis, but the signaling events downstream of ErbB-2 that drive cancer cell invasion and metastasis remain incompletely understood. Here we show that overexpression of ErbB-2 in human breast cancer cell lines leads to phosphorylation and activation of the semaphorin receptor Plexin-B1. This was required for ErbB-2–dependent activation of the pro-metastatic small GTPases RhoA and RhoC and promoted invasive behavior of human breast cancer cells. In a mouse model of ErbB-2–overexpressing breast cancer, ablation of the gene encoding Plexin-B1 strongly reduced the occurrence of metastases. Moreover, in human patients with ErbB-2–overexpressing breast cancer, low levels of Plexin-B1 expression correlated with good prognosis. Our data suggest that Plexin-B1 represents a new candidate therapeutic target for treating patients with ErbB-2–positive breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3314465  PMID: 22378040
20.  Critical determination of the frequency of c-erbB-2 amplification in breast cancer. 
British Journal of Cancer  1994;70(3):434-439.
Tissues from 323 methacarn-fixed and paraffin-embedded breast cancers were assessed for c-erbB-2 gene amplification by differential polymerase chain reaction (dPCR). The sensitivity of dPCR was ascertained using cell lines with c-erbB-2 amplification, and the relationship between dPCR ratio value and gene copy number was established. In clinical material the technique was not affected by the DNA contribution of normal tissue elements or by cancer DNA ploidy change. c-erbB-2 gene amplification was detected in 55% of invasive cancers and in 66% of in situ cancers. c-erbB-2 protein overexpression in breast cancer cells, as determined by specific immunohistochemistry, was only detected in 11% of invasive cancers and 43% of in situ cancers. Comparisons show that a substantial number of cancers with c-erbB-2 amplification lack detectable protein overexpression. This illustrates the complex nature of c-erbB-2 gene disregulation in cancer and suggests that multiple combinations of biological events and consequences are possible.
PMCID: PMC2033340  PMID: 7915911
21.  Dysregulation of Cell Polarity Proteins Synergize with Oncogenes or the Microenvironment to Induce Invasive Behavior in Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34343.
Changes in expression and localization of proteins that regulate cell and tissue polarity are frequently observed in carcinoma. However, the mechanisms by which changes in cell polarity proteins regulate carcinoma progression are not well understood. Here, we report that loss of polarity protein expression in epithelial cells primes them for cooperation with oncogenes or changes in tissue microenvironment to promote invasive behavior. Activation of ErbB2 in cells lacking the polarity regulators Scribble, Dlg1 or AF-6, induced invasive properties. This cooperation required the ability of ErbB2 to regulate the Par6/aPKC polarity complex. Inhibition of the ErbB2-Par6 pathway was sufficient to block ErbB2-induced invasion suggesting that two polarity hits may be needed for ErbB2 to promote invasion. Interestingly, in the absence of ErbB2 activation, either a combined loss of two polarity proteins, or exposure of cells lacking one polarity protein to cytokines IL-6 or TNFα induced invasive behavior in epithelial cells. We observed the invasive behavior only when cells were plated on a stiff matrix (Matrigel/Collagen-1) and not when plated on a soft matrix (Matrigel alone). Cells lacking two polarity proteins upregulated expression of EGFR and activated Akt. Inhibition of Akt activity blocked the invasive behavior identifying a mechanism by which loss of polarity promotes invasion of epithelial cells. Thus, we demonstrate that loss of polarity proteins confers phenotypic plasticity to epithelial cells such that they display normal behavior under normal culture conditions but display aggressive behavior in response to activation of oncogenes or exposure to cytokines.
PMCID: PMC3329530  PMID: 22529912
22.  The Role of ErbB3 and its Binding Partners in Breast Cancer Progression and Resistance to Hormone and Tyrosine Kinase Directed Therapies 
An increasingly important role for the ErbB3 receptor in the genesis and progression of breast cancer is emerging. ErbB3 is frequently overexpressed in breast cancer and coexpression of ErbB2/3 is a poor prognostic indicator. ErbB3 has also been implicated in the development of resistance to antiestrogens such as tamoxifen and ErbB tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as gefitinib. Persistent activation of the AKT pathway has been postulated to contribute to ErbB3 –mediated resistance to these therapies. This activation may be due in part to the inappropriate production of the ErbB3 ligand heregulin. ErbB3 binding proteins, which negatively regulate ErbB3 protein levels and the ability of ErbB3 to transmit proliferative signals, also contribute to breast cancer progression and treatment resistance. These proteins include the intracellular RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase Nrdp1 and the leucine-rich protein LRIG-1 that mediate receptor degradation. Ebp1, another ErbB3 binding protein, suppresses HRG driven breast cancer cell growth and contributes to tamoxifen sensitivity. These studies point to the importance of the evaluation of protein levels and functional activity of ErbB3 and its binding proteins in breast cancer prognosis and prediction of clinical response to treatment.
PMCID: PMC3709461  PMID: 18425425
ErbB3; Nrdp1; Ebp1; tamoxifen; gefitinib
23.  C-erbB2 mRNA expression in human breast tumours: comparison with c-erbB2 DNA amplification and correlation with prognosis. 
British Journal of Cancer  1990;61(1):39-45.
In this study, we have investigated the expression of the proto-oncogene c-erbB2 in a total of 70 human primary breast tumours. In agreement with other workers, we observed c-erbB2 gene amplification in 17.5% of the tumours studied. In addition, we carried out a comprehensive analysis of c-erbB2 mRNA expression in the tumours using RNase mapping and in situ hybridisation techniques. Our results indicated a more frequent (30%) overexpression of c-erbB2 mRNA, which was associated only with breast carcinomas of a ductal origin. Furthermore, analysis of the c-erbB2 mRNA gene locus in the same tumours demonstrated that enhanced c-erbB2 expression could occur in the presence or absence of gene amplification, suggesting that additional molecular mechanisms may result in overexpression of c-erbB2 mRNA in human mammary tumours. In situ hybridisation showed that elevated levels of c-erbB2 mRNA were specific to malignant cells within the breast tumour. Analysis of the association between c-erbB2 mRNA overexpression and clinicopathological factors revealed a significant correlation with poor tumour grade, but not with steroid receptor status or patient menopausal status. No significant correlation was observed between overexpression of c-erbB2 mRNA and early disease recurrence in our group of patients, although there was a definite trend towards poorer prognosis.
PMCID: PMC1971341  PMID: 2153396
24.  The anti-erbB3 antibody MM-121/SAR256212 in combination with trastuzumab exerts potent antitumor activity against trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cells 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:134.
Elevated expression of erbB3 receptor has been reported to induce resistance to therapeutic agents, including trastuzumab in erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer. Our recent studies indicate that erbB3 interacts with both erbB2 and IGF-1 receptor to form a heterotrimeric complex in trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cells. Herein, we investigate the antitumor activity of MM-121/SAR256212, a fully human anti-erbB3 antibody (Ab), against two erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cell lines resistant to trastuzumab.
MTS-based proliferation assays were used to determine cell viability upon treatment of trastuzumab and/or MM-121/SAR256212. Cell cycle progression was examined by flow cytometric analysis. Western blot analyses were performed to determine the expression and activation of proteins. Tumor xenografts were established by inoculation of the trastuzumab-resistant BT474-HR20 cells into nude mice. The tumor-bearing mice were treated with trastuzumab and/or MM-121/SAR256212 via i.p injection to determine the Abs’ antitumor activity. Immunohistochemical analyses were carried out to study the Abs’ inhibitory effects on tumor cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis in vivo.
MM-121 significantly enhanced trastuzumab-induced growth inhibition in two sensitive and two resistant breast cancer cell lines. MM-121 in combination with trastuzumab resulted in a dramatic reduction of phosphorylated erbB3 (P-erbB3) and Akt (P-Akt) in the in vitro studies. MM-121 combined with trastuzumab did not induce apoptosis in the trastuzumab-resistant cell lines under our cell culture condition, rather induced cell cycle G1 arrest mainly associated with the upregulation of p27kip1. Interestingly, in the tumor xenograft model established from the trastuzumab-resistant cells, MM-121 in combination with trastuzumab as compared to either agent alone dramatically inhibited tumor growth correlated with a significant reduction of Ki67 staining and increase of cleaved caspase-3 in the tumor tissues.
The combination of MM-121 and trastuzumab not only inhibits erbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cell proliferation, but also promotes the otherwise trastuzumab-resistant cells undergoing apoptosis in an in vivo xenografts model. Thus, MM-121 exhibits potent antitumor activity when combined with trastuzumab under the studied conditions. Our data suggest that further studies regarding the suitability of MM-121 for treatment of breast cancer patients whose tumors overexpress erbB2 and become resistant to trastuzumab may be warranted.
PMCID: PMC3829386  PMID: 24215614
MM-121; SAR256212; erbB3; erbB2; Trastuzumab resistance; Breast cancer
25.  ErbB2-mediated Src and STAT3 Activation Leads to Transcriptional Upregulation of p21Cip1 and Chemoresistance in Breast Cancer Cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2009;7(4):592-600.
Overexpression of the ErbB2 receptor tyrosine kinase is prevalent in approximately 30% of human breast cancers and confers Taxol resistance. Our previous work has demonstrated that ErbB2 inhibits Taxol induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells by transcriptionally upregulating p21Cip1. However, the mechanism of ErbB2-mediated p21Cip1 upregulation is unclear. Here we show that ErbB2 upregulates p21Cip1 transcription through increased Src activity in ErbB2 overexpressing cells. Src activation further activated STAT3 that recognizes an SIE binding site on the p21Cip1 promoter required for ErbB2-mediated p21Cip1 transcriptional upregulation. Both Src and STAT3 inhibitors restored Taxol sensitivity in resistant ErbB2 overexpressing breast cancer cells. Our data suggest that ErbB2 overexpression can activate STAT3 through Src leading to transcriptional upregulation of p21Cip1 that confers Taxol resistance of breast cancer cells. Our study suggests a potential clinical application of Src and STAT3 inhibitors in Taxol sensitization of ErbB2 overexpressing breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC2689096  PMID: 19372587
ErB2; STAT3; Src; p21Cip1; breast cancer

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