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
Overexpression of ErbB2 receptor in breast cancer is associated with disease progression and poor prognosis. Trastuzumab, the only humanised anti-ErbB2 antibody currently used in breast cancer, has proven to be effective; however, a relevant problem for clinical practice is that a high fraction of breast cancer patients shows primary or acquired resistance to trastuzumab treatment.
We tested on trastuzumab-resistant cells two novel human anti-tumour immunoconjugates engineered in our laboratory by fusion of a human anti-ErbB2 scFv, termed Erbicin, with either a human RNase or the Fc region of a human IgG1. Both Erbicin-derived immunoagents (EDIAs) are selectively cytotoxic for ErbB2-positive cancer cells in vitro and vivo, target an ErbB2 epitope different from that recognised by trastuzumab and do not show cardiotoxic effects.
We report that EDIAs are active also on trastuzumab-resistant tumour cells both in vitro and in vivo, most likely because of the different epitope recognised, as EDIAs, unlike trastuzumab, were found to be able to inhibit the signalling pathway downstream of ErbB2.
These results suggest that EDIAs are immunoagents that could not only fulfil the therapeutic need of patients ineligible to trastuzumab treatment due to cardiac dysfunction but also prove to be useful for breast cancer patients unresponsive to trastuzumab treatment.
ErbB2/Her2; immunotherapy; ImmunoRNase; trastuzumab; resistance
Trastuzumab shows remarkable efficacy in treatment of ErbB2-positive breast cancers when used alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutics. However, acquired resistance develops in most treated patients, necessitating alternate treatment strategies. Increased aerobic glycolysis is a hallmark of cancer and inhibition of glycolysis may offer a promising strategy to preferentially kill cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the antitumor effects of trastuzumab in combination with glycolysis inhibitors in ErbB2-positive breast cancer. We found that trastuzumab inhibits glycolysis via downregulation of heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) and lactate dehydrogenase A (LDH-A) in ErbB2-positive cancer cells, resulting in tumor growth inhibition. Moreover, increased glycolysis via HSF1 and LDH-A contributes to trastuzumab resistance. Importantly, we found that combining trastuzumab with glycolysis inhibition synergistically inhibited trastuzumab-sensitive and -resistant breast cancers in vitro and in vivo, due to more efficient inhibition of glycolysis. Taken together, our findings show how glycolysis inhibition can dramatically enhance the therapeutic efficacy of trastuzumab in ErbB2-positive breast cancers, potentially useful as a strategy to overcome trastuzumab resistance.
Warburg effect; glycolysis; HSF1; LDH-A; trastuzumab; ErbB2; resistance
The management of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive (ErbB2+) breast cancer is challenging; patients with ErbB2+ breast tumors have more aggressive disease and a poor prognosis. The increasing incidence of breast cancer in Asia and the limitations of existing treatments pose additional challenges. In this review, we summarize the preclinical and clinical evidence that indicates how lapatinib, a novel inhibitor that targets the human epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB1) and ErbB2 may help clinicians address four particularly challenging issues in the management of ErbB2+ breast cancer. These issues are: (i) trastuzumab therapy failure, (ii) development of central nervous system metastases, (iii) minimizing toxicity and (iv) selecting the most appropriate partners (chemotherapy and non-chemotherapy) for combination therapy with lapatinib. Lapatinib, in combination with chemotherapeutic agents, such as capecitabine, provides clinical benefits to patients with ErbB2+ breast cancer, including patients who develop progressive disease on trastuzumab. Lapatinib, in combination with non-chemotherapeutic agents, such as letrozole, may also provide a chemotherapy-free treatment option for postmenopausal patients with estrogen receptor-positive/ErbB2+ metastatic breast cancer. Encouraging results have also emerged regarding the synergistic effects of lapatinib in combination with other agents for the treatment of ErbB2+ breast cancer. Promising findings have also been reported for the use of lapatinib to prevent and treat central nervous system metastases. Collectively, these results indicate that the judicious use of lapatinib, an effective oral therapy with a manageable toxicity profile, can enhance the management of patients with ErbB2+ breast cancer.
breast cancer; ErbB1; ErbB2; lapatinib; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; review
The antibody trastuzumab and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib are approved by the FDA for the treatment of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. These anti-HER2 drugs are changing the natural history of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. However, therapeutic resistance to trastuzumab or lapatinib, as either single-agents or in combination with chemotherapy in the metastatic setting, typically occurs within months of starting therapy. Several mechanisms of trastuzumab-resistance have been reported that include signaling from other HER receptors, signaling from receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) outside of the HER (ErbB) family, increased phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase signaling, and the presence of truncated forms of HER2. Mechanisms of resistance to lapatinib also point to increased phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling as well as derepression/activation of compensatory survival pathways. In this review, we discuss how these models and mechanisms enhance our understanding of the clinical resistance to HER2-directed therapies.
HER2 (ERBB2); trastuzumab; lapatinib; drug resistance; antibodies; tyrosine kinase inhibitors
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
Lapatinib is an oral, reversible, dual inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor ErbB1 (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 ErbB2 (HER2). Results of a phase III study comparing lapatinib plus capecitabine with capecitabine alone in women with ErbB2-overexpressing advanced breast cancer previously treated with an anthracycline, a taxane, and trastuzumab were reported early based on superiority of the combination in prolonging time to tumor progression (TTP). An updated analysis in 399 women supports the earlier findings. In this updated analysis, TTP (hazard ratio [HR] 0.57) favored lapatinib plus capecitabine. Survival trended in favor of the combination. The incidence of cardiac events was numerically higher in the combination arm (5 cases in the combination arm, 2 cases in the monotherapy arm).
lapatinib; capecitabine; breast cancer; HER2
Trastuzumab (Herceptin®) is the first FDA-approved therapeutic targeting a HER-family receptor tyrosine kinase (HER2/ErbB2/neu). Although trastuzumab is effective in the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer, a substantial proportion of patients will not respond to trastuzumab-based regimens (primary resistance), and those who do respond will often lose clinical benefit (i.e., secondary resistance). While multiple mechanisms underlying the development of secondary trastuzumab resistance have been identified, few studies have specifically examined the basis of primary trastuzumab resistance. Here, we review these studies, which, together, demonstrate that trastuzumab induces phenotypic changes in tumor cells, even when they are not growth inhibited by trastuzumab, including changes in gene expression. These changes have important clinical implications, including sensitization of malignant cells to other therapeutic drugs. In light of these observations, we propose that the conventional definition of “resistance” as it pertains to trastuzumab and, perhaps, to other targeted therapeutics, may require revision. The results of these studies will be useful in informing the direction of future basic and clinical research focused on overcoming primary trastuzumab resistance.
EGFR/ErbB/HER; trastuzumab/herceptin; breast cancer; targeted therapeutics; primary resistance
ErbB2 (or Her2/Neu) overexpression in breast cancer signifies poorer prognosis, yet it has provided an avenue for targeted therapy as demonstrated by the success of humanized monoclonal antibody Trastuzumab (Herceptin™). Resistance to Trastuzumab and eventual failure in most cases, however, necessitate alternate ErbB2-targeted therapies. HSP90 inhibitors such as 17-allylaminodemethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG), potently downregulate the cell surface ErbB2. While the precise mechanisms of Trastuzumab or 17-AAG action remain unclear, ubiquitinylation-dependent proteasomal or lysosomal degradation of ErbB2 appears to play a substantial role. As Trastuzumab and 17-AAG induce the recruitment of distinct E3 ubiquitin ligases, Cbl and CHIP respectively, to ErbB2, we hypothesized that 17-AAG and Trastuzumab combination could induce a higher level of ubiquitinylation and downregulation of ErbB2 as compared to single drug treatments. We present biochemical and cell biological evidence that combined 17-AAG and Trastuzumab treatment of ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cell lines leads to enhanced ubiquitinylation, downregulation from the cell surface and lysosomal degradation of ErbB2. Importantly, combined 17-AAG and Trastuzumab treatment induced synergistic growth arrest and cell death specifically in ErbB2-overexpressing but not in ErbB2-low breast cancer cells. Our results suggest the 17-AAG and Trastuzumab combination as a mechanism-based combinatorial targeted therapy for ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer patients.
ErbB2; 17-AAG; Trastuzumab; synergy; ubiquitin ligase
Women with advanced or metastatic ErbB2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer have limited therapeutic options once their disease has progressed on trastuzumab-based standard initial chemotherapy regimens. Therefore, there has been a clear need for alternative treatments in this advanced setting. The small molecule lapatinib is a dual receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor of both ErbBl and ErbB2. In the pivotal phase III trial, lapatinib combined with capecitabine has demonstrated superior efficacy over capecitabine alone in this group of patients, with a median time to tumor progression of 8.4 months in the combination therapy group versus 4.4 months in the monotherapy arm. This improvement was achieved without an increase in serious toxic effects or symptomatic cardiac events. In addition, with the advent of Lapatinib, the empirically adopted practice of continuing trastuzumab beyond progression has to be seen in a different light. This is especially true since an exploratory analysis has suggested that the earlier use of the combination lapatinib plus capecitabine is associated with a benefit in time to progression and overall survival.
Trastuzumab resistance; Dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Lapatinib; EGF100151 study; Treatment beyond progression
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
We have investigated the role of t-DARPP in trastuzumab resistance in ERBB2-amplified and overexpressed breast cancer cell lines.
We have used the HR-5 and HR-6 trastuzumab-resistant cells that were established from tumors that recurred in the presence of trastuzumab therapy following xenografts of BT-474 cells in nude mice. In addition, SKBR-3 cells, engineered for stable expression of t-DARPP, and HCC-1569 cells, which have constitutive expression of t-DARPP and are de novo resistant to trastuzumab, were used.
We reported ≥15-fold up-regulation of mRNA and protein levels of t-DARPP in HR-5 and HR-6 cells compared with their progenitor BT-474 trastuzumab-sensitive cells. The t-DARPP expression was not regulated by changes in its promoter DNA methylation levels. The SKBR-3 cells stably expressing t-DARPP developed resistance to trastuzumab compared with their parental cells and empty vector controls (P < 0.01). The trastuzumab-resistant cell lines showed a significant increase in pAKT (Ser473) and BCL2 protein levels. The small interfering RNA knockdown of t-DARPP in all trastuzumab-resistant cells led to a significant reduction in ERBB2, pAKT (Ser473), and BCL2 protein levels with a significant decrease in cell viability (P ≤ 0.001) and an increase in cleaved caspase-3 levels, indicating the progression of these cells toward apoptosis. The t-DARPP protein was associated with both heat shock protein 90 and ERBB2 forming a potential protein complex. This association may play a role in regulating ERBB2 protein in trastuzumab-resistant cells.
We conclude that t-DARPP is a novel molecular target that can mediate the therapeutic resistance to trastuzumab in breast cancer cells.
The past decade of research into HER2-overexpressing breast cancer has provided significant insight into the mechanisms by which HER2 signaling drives tumor progression, as well as potential mechanisms by which cancer cells escape the anticancer activity of HER2-targeted therapy. Many of these preclinical findings have been translated into clinical development, resulting in novel combinations of HER2-targeted therapies and combinations of trastuzumab plus inhibitors of resistance pathways. In this paper, we will discuss proposed mechanisms of trastuzumab resistance, including epitope masking, cross signaling from other cell surface receptors, hyperactive downstream signaling, and failure to induce antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. In addition, we will discuss the molecular mechanisms of action of dual HER2 inhibition, specifically the combination of trastuzumab plus lapatinib or trastuzumab with pertuzumab. We will also discuss data supporting therapeutic combinations of trastuzumab with agents targeted against molecules implicated in trastuzumab resistance. The roles of insulin-like growth factor-I receptor and the estrogen receptor are discussed in the context of resistance to HER2-targeted therapies. Finally, we will examine the major issues that need to be addressed in order to translate these combinations from the bench to the clinic, including the need to establish relevant biomarkers to select for those patients who are most likely to benefit from a particular drug combination.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is the most crucial ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) family member in HER2-positive (refered to HER2-overexpressing) breast cancer which are dependent on or "addictive" to the Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. HER2-related target drugs trastuzumab and lapatinib have been the foundation of treatment of HER2--positive breast cancer. This study was designed to explore the relationship between PI3K pathway activation and the sensitivity to lapatinib in HER2--positive metastatic breast cancer patients pretreated with anthracyclins, taxanes and trastuzumab.
Sixty-seven HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients were recruited into a global lapatinib Expanded Access Program and 57 patients have primary tumor specimens available for determination of PI3K pathway status. PTEN status was determined by immunohistochemical staining and PIK3CA mutations were detected via PCR sequencing. All patients were treated with lapatinib 1250 mg/day continuously and capecitabine 1000 mg/m2 twice daily on a 2-week-on and 1-week-off schedule until disease progression, death, withdrawal of informed consent, or intolerable toxicity.
PIK3CA mutations and PTEN loss were detected in 12.3% (7/57) and 31.6% (18/57) of the patients, respectively. Twenty-two patients with PI3K pathway activation (defined as PIK3CA mutation and/or PTEN expression loss) had a lower clinical benefit rate (36.4% versus 68.6%, P = 0.017) and a lower overall response rate (9.1% versus 31.4%, P = 0.05), when compared with the 35 patients with no activation. A retrospective analysis of first trastuzumab-containing regimen treatment data showed that PI3K pathway activation correlated with a shorter median progression-free survival (4.5 versus 9.0 months, P = 0.013).
PIK3CA mutations occur more frequently in elder patients for HER2-positive breast cancer. PIK3CA mutations and PTEN loss are not mutually exclusive. PI3K pathway activation resulting from PTEN loss or PIK3CA mutations may lead to drug resistance to lapatinib and trastuzumab (http://ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00338247).
Early studies have demonstrated comparable levels of HER2/ErbB2 expression in both breast and ovarian cancer. Trastuzumab (Herceptin), a therapeutic monoclonal antibody directed against HER2, is FDA-approved for the treatment of both early and late stage breast cancer. However, clinical studies of trastuzumab in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) patients have not met the same level of success. Surprisingly, however, no reports have examined either the basis for primary trastuzumab resistance in ovarian cancer or potential ways of salvaging trastuzumab as a potential ovarian cancer therapeutic.
An in vitro model of primary trastuzumab-resistant ovarian cancer was created by long-term culture of HER2-positive ovarian carcinoma-derived cell lines with trastuzumab. Trastuzumab treated vs. untreated parental cells were compared for HER receptor expression, trastuzumab sensitivity, and sensitivity to other HER-targeted therapeutics.
In contrast to widely held assumptions, here we show that ovarian cancer cells that are not growth inhibited by trastuzumab are still responsive to trastuzumab. Specifically, we show that responsiveness to alternative HER-targeted inhibitors, such as gefitinib and cetuximab, is dramatically potentiated by long-term trastuzumab treatment of ovarian cancer cells. HER2-positive ovarian carcinoma-derived cells are, therefore, not "unresponsive" to trastuzumab as previously assumed, even when they not growth inhibited by this drug.
Given the recent success of EGFR-targeted therapeutics for the treatment of other solid tumors, and the well-established safety profile of trastuzumab, results presented here provide a rationale for re-evaluation of trastuzumab as an experimental ovarian cancer therapeutic, either in concert with, or perhaps as a "primer" for EGFR-targeted therapeutics.
ErbB2 is an attractive target for immunotherapy, as it is a tyrosine kinase receptor overexpressed on tumour cells of different origin, with a key role in the development of malignancy. Trastuzumab, the only humanised anti-ErbB2 antibody currently used in breast cancer with success, can engender cardiotoxicity and a high fraction of patients is resistant to Trastuzumab treatment.
A novel human immunoRNase, called anti-ErbB2 human compact antibody-RNase (Erb-hcAb-RNase), made up of the compact anti-ErbB2 antibody Erbicin-human-compact Antibody (Erb-hcAb) and human pancreatic RNase (HP-RNase), has been designed, expressed in mammalian cell cultures and purified. The immunoRNase was then characterised as an enzymatic protein, and tested for its biological actions in vitro and in vivo on ErbB2-positive tumour cells.
Erb-hcAb-RNase retains the enzymatic activity of HP-RNase and specifically binds to ErbB2-positive cells with an affinity comparable with that of the parental Erb-hcAb. Moreover, this novel immunoRNase is endowed with an effective and selective antiproliferative action for ErbB2-positive tumour cells both in vitro and in vivo. Its antitumour activity is more potent than that of the parental Erb-hcAb as the novel immunoconjugate has acquired RNase-based cytotoxicity in addition to the inhibitory growth effects, antibody-dependent and complement-dependent cytotoxicity of Erb-hcAb.
Erb-hcAb-RNase could be a promising candidate for the immunotherapy of ErbB2-positive tumours.
immunotherapy; ErbB2/HER2; immunoRNase; breast cancer; Trastuzumab
The Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (Her2, ErbB2 or Neu) is overexpressed in about 20 – 25% of breast cancers and is causally linked to oncogenesis, providing opportunities for targeted therapy. Trastuzumab (Herceptin™, Genentech Inc, San Francisco, CA), a humanized monoclonal antibody against ErbB2, is a successful example of this concept and has vastly improved the response to treatment and overall survival in a majority of ErbB2+ breast cancer patients. However, lack of response in some patients as well as relapse during the course of therapy in others, continue to challenge researchers and clinicians alike towards a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of Trastuzumab action and resistance to treatment. The exact in vivo mechanism of action of Trastuzumab remains enigmatic, given its direct effects on the ErbB2 signaling pathway as well as indirect contributions from the immune system, by virtue of the ability of Trastuzumab to elicit Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity. Consequently, multiple mechanisms of resistance have been proposed. We present here a comprehensive review of our current understanding of the mechanisms, both of Trastuzumab action and clinical resistance to Trastuzumab-based therapies. We also review newer strategies (based on ErbB2 receptor biology) that are being explored to overcome resistance to Trastuzumab therapy.
ErbB2 (Her2/Neu); mechanism; resistance; trastuzumab
Preclinical and clinical trials suggest that tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) could supplement current therapies in metastatic breast cancer (MBC). HER-2 inhibition is still a main focus. Numerous agents targeting the epidermal growth factor receptors EGFR and HER-2 are currently tested after previous trastuzumab treatment. Lapatinib targets HER-2 and EGFR. As monotherapy, clinical activity was low. Combined with cytotoxic agents, lapatinib showed good activity (overall response rate (ORR) 24-27%) and moderate toxicity. Neratinib, a pan-ErbB TKI, showed an ORR of 26%. Neratinib combined with trastzumab was well tolerated and active (ORR = 27%). After bevacizumab's proof-of-concept studies, anti-angiogenesis remains of importance. Sunitinib inhibits the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), the platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), c-kit and the colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF-1) receptor. Monotherapy is tolerated and moderately active in MBC. Combination trials are ongoing. Toxicities of docetaxel ± sunitinib were manageable (ORR 72.2%). Pazopanib targets VEGFR, PDGFR and c-kit. Pazopanib ± lapatinib was superior in combination (progression-free survival (PFS) = 27% vs. 19%). Axitinib has similar targets. Combined with docetaxel, it was superior compared to placebo (ORR 40% vs. 23%), with manageable toxicity. Imatinib inhibits PDGFR and c-kit. As monotherapy, it showed no clinical activity. Combination trials with chemotherapy are ongoing.
Metastatic breast cancer; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Her-2/neu; Anti-angiogenesis; Intracellular kinase pathways
A significant fraction of HER2-overexpressing breast cancers exhibit resistance to the HER2 antibody trastuzumab. Hyperactivity of the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway confers trastuzumab resistance, and mTOR is a major downstream effector of PI3K/AKT. Therefore, we examined whether mTOR inhibitors synergize with trastuzumab.
Immunocompetent mice bearing HER2-positive mammary tumors were treated with trastuzumab, the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, or the combination. Mice were imaged for tumor cell death using an optical Annexin-V probe and with [18F]FDG-PET. The signaling and growth effects of the mTOR inhibitor RAD001 on HER2+ cells treated with trastuzumab or lapatinib were evaluated.
Treatment of mice with trastuzumab plus rapamycin was more effective than single-agent treatments, inducing complete regression of 26/26 tumors. The combination induced tumor cell death (Annexin-V binding) and inhibited FDG uptake. Rapamycin inhibited mTOR and tumor cell proliferation as determined by phospho-S6 and Ki67 immunohistochemistry, respectively. In culture, the combination of RAD001 plus trastuzumab inhibited cell growth more effectively than either drug alone. Trastuzumab partially decreased PI3K but not mTOR activity. Knockdown of TSC2 resulted in HER2-independent activation of mTOR and dampened the response to trastuzumab and lapatinib. Treatment with the HER2 inhibitor lapatinib decreased phospho-S6 and growth in TSC2-expressing but not in TSC2-knockdown cells.
Inhibition of PI3K and mTOR are required for the growth inhibitory effect of HER2 antagonists. These findings collectively support the combined use of trastuzumab and mTOR inhibitors for the treatment of HER2+ breast cancer.
mTOR; trastuzumab; HER2; breast cancer
Notch receptor has an important role in both development and cancer. We previously reported that inhibition of the Notch3 by γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI) induces apoptosis and suppresses tumour proliferation in non-small-cell lung cancer. Although radiation is reported to induce Notch activation, little is known about the relationship between radiation and Notch pathway.
We examined the effect of combining GSI and radiation at different dosing in three Notch expressing lung cancer cell lines. The cytotoxic effect of GSI and radiation was evaluated using MTT assay and clonogenic assay in vitro and xenograft models. Expressions of Notch pathway, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and Bcl-2 family proteins were investigated using western blot analysis.
We discovered that the antitumour effect of combining GSI and radiation was dependent on treatment schedule. γ-Secretase inhibitor administration after radiation had the greatest growth inhibition of lung cancer in vitro and in vivo. We showed that the combination induced apoptosis of lung cancer cell lines through the regulation of MAPK and Bcl-2 family proteins. Furthermore, activation of Notch after radiation was ameliorated by GSI administration, suggesting that treatment with GSI prevents Notch-induced radiation resistance.
Notch has an important role in lung cancer. Treatment with GSI after radiation can significantly enhance radiation-mediated tumour cytotoxicity.
Notch; γ-secretase inhibitor; radiation; apoptosis; non-small-cell lung cancer
We found both in vitro and in vivo that survival of NSCLC cells in a hypoxic microenvironment requires Notch-1 signaling. A hypoxic tumor environment represents a problem for NSCLC treatment because it plays a critical role in cancer resistance to chemotherapy, tumor recurrence, and metastasis. Here we targeted hypoxic tumor tissue in an orthotopic NSCLC model. We inhibited the Notch-1/IGF-1R/Akt-1 axis using 3 agents: a γ-secretase inhibitor or GSI (MRK-003), a fully humanized antibody against the human IGF-1R (MK-0646), and a pan-Akt inhibitor (MK-2206), alone or in various combinations including therapeutics currently in clinical use. All treatments but Akt inhibition significantly prolonged the median survival of mice compared with controls. GSI treatment caused specific cell death of hypoxic tumors. Tumors excised from mice displayed a significant reduction of markers of hypoxia. Moreover, GSI treatment caused reduced metastasis to the liver and brain. MK-0646 was not specific to a hypoxic tumor environment but substantially increased the median survival of treated mice compared with controls. NSCLC cells evaded MK-0646 treatment by specifically overactivating EGF-R both in vivo and in 5 cell lines in vitro. This phenomenon is achieved at the level of protein stability. MK-0646 treatment caused increased erlotinib sensitivity in NSCLC cells poorly responsive to it. Sequential treatment with MK-0646 followed by erlotinib prolonged median survival of mice significantly. When the 2 drugs were administered simultaneously, no survival benefit was observed, and this combination therapy proved less effective than MK-0646 used as single agent. Our data offer novel information that may provide insights for the planning of clinical trials in humans, likely for maintenance therapy of NSCLC patients.
notch signaling; insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor signaling; tumor hypoxia
Small molecule inhibitors of HER2 are clinically active in women with advanced HER2 positive breast cancer who have progressed on trastuzumab treatment. However, the effectiveness of this class of agents is limited by either primary resistance or acquired resistance. Using an unbiased genetic approach we performed a genome wide loss-of-function shRNA screen to identify novel modulators of resistance to lapatinib, a recently approved anti-HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Here, we have identified the tumour suppressor PTEN as a modulator of lapatinib sensitivity in vitro and in vivo. In addition, we demonstrate that two dominant activating mutations in PIK3CA (E545K and H1047R), which are prevalent in breast cancer, also confer resistance to lapatinib. Furthermore, we show that PI3K induced lapatinib resistance can be abrogated through the use of NVP-BEZ235, a dual inhibitor of PI3K/mTOR. Our data show that deregulation of the PI3K pathway, either through loss-of-function mutations in PTEN or dominant activating mutations in PIK3CA, leads to lapatinib resistance which can be effectively reversed by NVP-BEZ235.
Breast cancer; lapatinib; barcode screen; PI3K pathway; PI3K inhibitors
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias and lymphomas (T-ALL) are aggressive hematologic cancers frequently associated with activating mutations in NOTCH1. Early studies identified NOTCH1 as an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of T-ALL through the use of γ-secretase inhibitors (GSIs). Here, we characterized the interaction between PF-03084014, a clinically-relevant GSI, and dexamethasone in preclinical models of glucocorticoid-resistant T-ALL. Combination treatment of the GSI PF-03084014 with glucocorticoids induced a synergistic antileukemic effect in human T-ALL cell lines and primary human T-ALL patient samples. Mechanistically PF-03084014 plus glucocorticoid treatment induced increased transcriptional upregulation of the glucocorticoid receptor and glucocorticoid target genes. Treatment with PF-03084014 and glucocorticoids in combination was highly efficacious in vivo, with enhanced reduction of tumor burden in a xenograft model of T-ALL. Finally, glucocorticoid treatment effectively reversed PF-03084014-induced gastrointestinal toxicity via inhibition of goblet cell metaplasia. These results warrant the analysis of PF-03084014 and glucocorticoids in combination for the treatment of glucocorticoid-resistant T-ALL.
Approximately 25% of human breast cancers overexpress the HER2 (ErbB2) proto-oncogene, which confers a more aggressive tumor phenotype and associates with a poor prognosis in patients with this disease. Two approved therapies targeting HER2, the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib, are clinically active against this type of breast cancer. However, a significant fraction of patients with HER2+ breast cancer treated with these agents eventually relapse or develop progressive disease. This suggests that tumors acquire or possess intrinsic mechanisms of resistance that allow escape from HER2 inhibition. This review focuses on mechanisms of intrinsic and/or acquired resistance to HER2-targeted therapies that have been identified in preclinical and clinical studies. These mechanisms involve alterations to HER2 itself, coexpression or acquisition of bypass signaling through other receptor or intracellular signaling pathways, defects in mechanisms of cell cycle regulation or apoptosis, and host factors that may modulate drug response. Emerging clinical evidence already suggests that combinations of therapies targeting HER2 as well as these resistance pathways will be effective in overcoming or preventing resistance.
breast cancer; HER2; trastuzumab; lapatinib; therapeutic resistance
The standard targeted therapy for HER2-overexpressing breast cancer is the HER2 monoclonal antibody, trastuzumab. Although effective, many patients eventually develop trastuzumab resistance. The dual EGFR/HER2 small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib is approved for use in trastuzumab-refractory metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. However, lapatinib resistance is a problem as most patients with trastuzumab-refractory disease do not benefit from lapatinib. Understanding the mechanisms underlying lapatinib resistance may ultimately facilitate development of new therapeutic strategies for HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. Our current results indicate that MEK inhibition increases lapatinib-mediated cytotoxicity in resistant HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells. We genetically and pharmacologically blocked MEK/ERK signaling and evaluated lapatinib response by trypan blue exclusion, anchorage-independent growth assays, flow cytometric cell cycle and apoptosis analysis, and in tumor xenografts. Combined MEK inhibition and lapatinib treatment reduced phosphorylated ERK more than single agent treatment. In addition, Western blots, immunofluorescence, and immunohistochemistry demonstrated that the combination of MEK inhibitor plus lapatinib reduced nuclear expression of the MEK/ERK downstream proto-oncogene FOXM1. Genetic knockdown of MEK was tested for the ability to increase lapatinib-mediated cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in JIMT-1 and MDA361 cells. Finally, xenograft studies demonstrated that combined pharmacological inhibition of MEK plus lapatinib suppressed tumor growth and reduced expression of FOXM1 in HER2-overexpressing breast cancers that are resistant to trastuzumab and lapatinib. Our results suggest that FoxM1 contributes to lapatinib resistance downstream of MEK signaling, and supports further study of pharmacological MEK inhibition to improve response to lapatinib in HER2-overexpressing trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer.
lapatinib; HER2; erbB2; breast cancer; resistance; MEK