Induction of ErbB-3 expression by α6β4 integrin contributes to tamoxifen resistance in ERβ-1-negative breast carcinomas

Valentina Folgiero, Paolo Avetrani, Giulia Bon, Selene E. Di Carlo, Alessandra Fabi, Cecilia Nisticò, Patrizia Vici, Elisa Melucci, Simonetta Buglioni, Letizia Perracchio, Isabella Sperduti, Laura Rosanò, Ada Sacchi, Marcella Mottolese, Rita Falcioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Timoxifen is still the most used drug in hormone therapy for the treatment of breast cancer. Its benefits in adjuvant treatment are well documented in controlled and randomized clinical studies, which have demonstrated an increase in disease-free intervals of patients with positive hormonal receptors. However, the mechanisms involved in endocrine resistance are not clear. Laboratory and clinical data now indicate that bi-directional molecular cross-talk between nuclear or membrane ER and growth factor receptor pathways may be involved in endocrine resistance. We recently found a functional interaction between α6β4 integrin and ErbB-3 receptor to maintain the PI3K/Akt survival pathway of mammary tumour cells. We sought to improve understanding of this process in order to provide the involvement of both receptors insight into mechanism of Tamoxifen resistance. Methods and Findings: Using human breast cancer cell lines displaying different levels of α6β4 and ErbB-3 receptors and a series of 232 breast cancer biopsies from patients submitted to adjuvant Tamoxifen monoherapy for five years, we evaluated the functional interaction between both receptors in relationship to Tamoxifen responsiveness. In mammary carcinoma cells, we evidenced that the α6β4 integrin strongly influence Akt phosphorylation through ErbB-3 protein regulation. Moreover, the ErbB-3 inactivation inhibits Akt phosphorylation, induces apoptosis and inhibits in vitro invasion favouring Tamoxifen responsiveness. The analysis of human tumors revealed a significant relationship between α6β4 and ErbB-3 in P-Akt-positive and ERβ1-negative breast cancer derived from patients with lower disease free survival. Conclusions: We provided evidence that a strong relationship occurs between α6β4 and ErbB-3 posivity in ERβ1-negative breast cancers. We also found that the association between ErbB-3 and P-Akt positivity mainly occurs in ERβ1-negative breast cancer derived from patients with lower DFS indicating that both receptors are clinically relevant in predicting the response to Tamoxifen.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1592
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 13 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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