The cooperation between hMena overexpression and HER2 signalling in breast cancer

Francesca Di Modugno, Marcella Mottolese, Lucia DeMonte, Paola Trono, Michele Balsamo, Andrea Conidi, Elisa Melucci, Irene Terrenato, Francesca Belleudi, Maria Rosaria Torrisi, Massimo Alessio, Angela Santoni, Paola Nisticò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


hMena and the epithelial specific isoform hMena11a are actin cytoskeleton regulatory proteins belonging to the Ena/VASP family. EGF treatment of breast cancer cell lines upregulates hMena/hMena11a expression and phosphorylates hMena11a, suggesting cross-talk between the ErbB receptor family and hMena/hMena11a in breast cancer. The aim of this study was to determine whether the hMena/hMena11a overexpression cooperates with HER-2 signalling, thereby affecting the HER2 mitogenic activity in breast cancer. In a cohort of breast cancer tissue samples a significant correlation among hMena, HER2 overexpression, the proliferation index (high Ki67), and phosphorylated MAPK and AKT was found and among the molecular subtypes the highest frequency of hMena overexpressing tumors was found in the HER2 subtype. From a clinical viewpoint, concomitant overexpression of HER2 and hMena identifies a subgroup of breast cancer patients showing the worst prognosis, indicating that hMena overexpression adds prognostic information to HER2 overexpressing tumors. To identify a functional link between HER2 and hMena, we show here that HER2 transfection in MCF7 cells increased hMena/hMena11a expression and hMena11a phosphorylation. On the other hand, hMena/hMena11a knock-down reduced HER3, AKT and p44/ 42 MAPK phosphorylation and inhibited the EGF and NRG1-dependent HER2 phosphorylation and cell proliferation. Of functional significance, hMena/hMena11a knock-down reduced the mitogenic activity of EGF and NRG1. Collectively these data provide new insights into the relevance of hMena and hMena11a as downstream effectors of the ErbB receptor family which may represent a novel prognostic indicator in breast cancer progression, helping to stratify patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15852
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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