Grb7 upregulation is a molecular adaptation to HER2 signaling inhibition due to removal of Akt-mediated gene repression

Alessio Nencioni, Michele Cea, Anna Garuti, Mario Passalacqua, Lizzia Raffaghello, Debora Soncini, Eva Moran, Gabriele Zoppoli, Vito Pistoia, Franco Patrone, Alberto Ballestrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The efficacy of anti-HER2 therapeutics, such as lapatinib and trastuzumab, is limited by primary and acquired resistance. Cellular adaptations that allow breast cancer cell to survive prolonged HER2 inhibition include de-repression of the transcription factor FOXO3A with consequent estrogen receptor activation, and/or increased HER3 signaling. Here, we used low-density arrays, quantitative PCR, and western blotting to determine how HER2 signaling inhibition with lapatinib or PI3K inhibitors affects the expression of genes involved in breast cancer metastatic spread and overall prognosis. Retroviral transgenesis was used to express constitutively active forms of Akt in the HER2+ breast cancer cell line SKBR3, and Grb7 in MCF7 cells. Specific gene silencing was obtained by siRNAs transfection. A murine BT474 xenograft cancer model was used to assess the effect of lapatinib on gene expression in vivo. We found that lapatinib induces upregulation of Grb7, an adaptor protein involved in receptor tyrosine kinase signaling and promoting cell survival and cell migration. Grb7 upregulation induced by lapatinib was found to occur in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that Grb7 upregulation is recreated by PI3K inhibitors while being prevented by constitutively active Akt. Thus, Grb7 is repressed by PI3K signaling and lapatinib-mediated Akt inhibition is responsible for Grb7 de-repression. Finally, we show that Grb7 removal by RNA-interference reduces breast cancer cell viability and increases the activity of lapatinib. In conclusion, Grb7 upregulation is a potentially adverse consequence of HER2 signaling inhibition. Preventing Grb7 accumulation and/or its interaction with receptor tyrosine kinases may increase the benefit of HER2-targeting drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9024
JournalPLoS One
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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