The TP53 gene is mutated in approximately 60% of all colorectal cancer (CRC) cases. Over 20% of all TP53-mutated CRC tumors carry missense mutations at position R175 or R273. Here we report that CRC tumors harboring R273 mutations are more prone to progress to metastatic disease, with decreased survival, than those with R175 mutations. We identify a distinct transcriptional signature orchestrated by p53R273H, implicating activation of oncogenic signaling pathways and predicting worse outcome. These features are shared also with the hotspot mutants p53R248Q and p53R248W. p53R273H selectively promotes rapid CRC cell spreading, migration, invasion and metastasis. The transcriptional output of p53R273H is associated with preferential binding to regulatory elements of R273 signature genes. Thus, different TP53 missense mutations contribute differently to cancer progression. Elucidation of the differential impact of distinct TP53 mutations on disease features may make TP53 mutational information more actionable, holding potential for better precision-based medicine.
Missense mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor abound in human cancer. Common (“hotspot”) mutations endow mutant p53 (mutp53) proteins with oncogenic gain of function (GOF), including enhanced cell migration and invasiveness, favoring cancer progression. GOF is usually attributed to transcriptional effects of mutp53. To elucidate transcription-independent effects of mutp53, we characterized the protein interactome of the p53R273H mutant in cells derived from pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), where p53R273H is the most frequent p53 mutant. We now report that p53R273H, but not the p53R175H hotspot mutant, interacts with SQSTM1/p62 and promotes cancer cell migration and invasion in a p62-dependent manner. Mechanistically, the p53R273H-p62 axis drives the proteasomal degradation of several cell junction–associated proteins, including the gap junction protein Connexin 43, facilitating scattered cell migration. Concordantly, down-regulation of Connexin 43 augments PDAC cell migration, while its forced overexpression blunts the promigratory effect of the p53R273H-p62 axis. These findings define a mechanism of mutp53 GOF.
By establishing multi-omics pipelines, we uncover overexpression and gene copy-number alterations of nucleoporin-93 (NUP93), a nuclear pore component, in aggressive human mammary tumors. NUP93 overexpression enhances transendothelial migration and matrix invasion in vitro, along with tumor growth and metastasis in animal models. These findings are supported by analyses of two sets of naturally occurring mutations: rare oncogenic mutations and inactivating familial nephrotic syndrome mutations. Mechanistically, NUP93 binds with importins, boosts nuclear transport of importins' cargoes, such as β-catenin, and activates MYC. Likewise, NUP93 overexpression enhances the ultimate nuclear transport step shared by additional signaling pathways, including TGF-β/SMAD and EGF/ERK. The emerging addiction to nuclear transport exposes vulnerabilities of NUP93-overexpressing tumors. Congruently, myristoylated peptides corresponding to the nuclear translocation signals of SMAD and ERK can inhibit tumor growth and metastasis. Our study sheds light on an emerging hallmark of advanced tumors, which derive benefit from robust nucleocytoplasmic transport.
Within the superfamily of small GTPases, Ras appears to be the master regulator of such processes as cell cycle progression, cell division, and apoptosis. Several oncogenic Ras mutations at amino acid positions 12, 13, and 61 have been identified that lose their ability to hydrolyze GTP, giving rise to constitutive signaling and eventually development of cancer. While disruption of the Ras/effector interface is an attractive strategy for drug design to prevent this constitutive activity, inhibition of this interaction using small molecules is impractical due to the absence of a cavity to which such molecules could bind. However, proteins and especially natural Ras effectors that bind to the Ras/effector interface with high affinity could disrupt Ras/effector interactions and abolish pro-cancer pathways initiated by Ras oncogene. Using a combination of computational design and in vitro evolution, we engineered high-affinity Ras-binding proteins starting from a natural Ras effector, RASSF5 (NORE1A), which is encoded by a tumor suppressor gene. Unlike previously reported Ras oncogene inhibitors, the proteins we designed not only inhibit Ras-regulated pro-cancer pathways, but also stimulate anticancer pathways initiated by RASSF5. We show that upon introduction into A549 lung carcinoma cells, the engineered RASSF5 mutants decreased cell viability and mobility to a significantly greater extent than WT RASSF5. In addition, these mutant proteins induce cellular senescence by increasing acetylation and decreasing phosphorylation of p53. In conclusion, engineered RASSF5 variants provide an attractive therapeutic strategy able to oppose cancer development by means of inhibiting of pro-cancer pathways and stimulating anti-cancer processes.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive subtype of breast cancer (BC). Treatment options for TNBC patients are limited and further insights into disease aetiology are needed to develop better therapeutic approaches. microRNAs' ability to regulate multiple targets could hold a promising discovery approach to pathways relevant for TNBC aggressiveness. Thus, we address the role of miRNAs in controlling three signalling pathways relevant to the biology of TNBC, and their downstream phenotypes.
To identify miRNAs regulating WNT/β-catenin, c-Met, and integrin signalling pathways, we performed a high-throughput targeted proteomic approach, investigating the effect of 800 miRNAs on the expression of 62 proteins in the MDA-MB-231 TNBC cell line. We then developed a novel network analysis, Pathway Coregulatory (PC) score, to detect miRNAs regulating these three pathways. Using in vitro assays for cell growth, migration, apoptosis, and stem-cell content, we validated the function of candidate miRNAs. Bioinformatic analyses using BC patients' datasets were employed to assess expression of miRNAs as well as their pathological relevance in TNBC patients.
We identified six candidate miRNAs coordinately regulating the three signalling pathways. Quantifying cell growth of three TNBC cell lines upon miRNA gain-of-function experiments, we characterised miR-193b as a strong and consistent repressor of proliferation. Importantly, the effects of miR-193b were stronger than chemical inhibition of the individual pathways. We further demonstrated that miR-193b induced apoptosis, repressed migration, and regulated stem-cell markers in MDA-MB-231 cells. Furthermore, miR-193b expression was the lowest in patients classified as TNBC or Basal compared to other subtypes. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis showed that miR-193b expression was significantly associated with reduced activity of WNT/β-catenin and c-Met signalling pathways in TNBC patients.
Integrating miRNA-mediated effects and protein functions on networks, we show that miRNAs predominantly act in a coordinated fashion to activate or repress connected signalling pathways responsible for metastatic traits in TNBC. We further demonstrate that our top candidate, miR-193b, regulates these phenotypes to an extent stronger than individual pathway inhibition, thus emphasizing that its effect on TNBC aggressiveness is mediated by the coordinated repression of these functionally interconnected pathways.
Tumor relapse as a consequence of chemotherapy resistance is a major clinical challenge in advanced stage breast tumors. To identify processes associated with poor clinical outcome, we took a mass spectrometry‐based proteomic approach and analyzed a breast cancer cohort of 113 formalin‐fixed paraffin‐embedded samples. Proteomic profiling of matched tumors before and after chemotherapy, and tumor‐adjacent normal tissue, all from the same patients, allowed us to define eight patterns of protein level changes, two of which correlate to better chemotherapy response. Supervised analysis identified two proteins of proline biosynthesis pathway, PYCR1 and ALDH18A1, that were significantly associated with resistance to treatment based on pattern dominance. Weighted gene correlation network analysis of post‐treatment samples revealed that these proteins are associated with tumor relapse and affect patient survival. Functional analysis showed that knockdown of PYCR1 reduced invasion and migration capabilities of breast cancer cell lines. PYCR1 knockout significantly reduced tumor burden and increased drug sensitivity of orthotopically injected ER‐positive tumor in vivo, thus emphasizing the role of PYCR1 in resistance to chemotherapy.
Lung cancers driven by mutant forms of EGFR invariably develop resistance to kinase inhibitors, often due to secondary mutations. Here we describe an unconventional mechanism of resistance to dacomitinib, a newly approved covalent EGFR kinase inhibitor, and uncover a previously unknown step of resistance acquisition. Dacomitinib-resistant (DR) derivatives of lung cancer cells were established by means of gradually increasing dacomitinib concentrations. These DR cells acquired no secondary mutations in the kinase or other domains of EGFR. Along with resistance to other EGFR inhibitors, DR cells acquired features characteristic to epithelial-mesenchymal transition, including an expanded population of aldehyde dehydrogenase-positive cells and upregulation of AXL, a receptor previously implicated in drug resistance. Unexpectedly, when implanted in animals, DR cells reverted to a dacomitinib-sensitive state. Nevertheless, cell lines derived from regressing tumors displayed renewed resistance when cultured. Three-dimensional and cocultures along with additional analyses indicated lack of involvement of hypoxia, fibroblasts, and immune cells in phenotype reversal, implying that other host-dependent mechanisms might nullify nonmutational modes of resistance. Thus, similar to the phenotypic resistance of bacteria treated with antibiotics, the reversible resisters described here likely evolve from drug-tolerant persisters and give rise to the irreversible, secondary mutation-driven nonreversible resister state. SIGNIFICANCE: This study reports that stepwise acquisition of kinase inhibitor resistance in lung cancers driven by mutant EGFR comprises a nonmutational, reversible resister state. GRAPHICAL ABSTRACT: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/81/14/3862/F1.large.jpg.
Cancer is initiated largely by specific cohorts of genetic aberrations, which are generated by mutagens and often mimic active growth factor receptors, or downstream effectors. Once initiated cells outgrow and attract blood vessels, a multi-step process, called metastasis, disseminates cancer cells primarily through vascular routes. The major steps of the metastatic cascade comprise intravasation into blood vessels, circulation as single or collectives of cells, and eventual colonization of distant organs. Herein, we consider metastasis as a multi-step process that seized principles and molecular players employed by physiological processes, such as tissue regeneration and migration of neural crest progenitors. Our discussion contrasts the irreversible nature of mutagenesis, which establishes primary tumors, and the reversible epigenetic processes (e.g. epithelial–mesenchymal transition) underlying the establishment of micro-metastases and secondary tumors. Interestingly, analyses of sequencing data from untreated metastases inferred depletion of putative driver mutations among metastases, in line with the pivotal role played by growth factors and epigenetic processes in metastasis. Conceivably, driver mutations may not confer the same advantage in the microenvironment of the primary tumor and of the colonization site, hence phenotypic plasticity rather than rigid cellular states hardwired by mutations becomes advantageous during metastasis. We review the latest reported examples of growth factors harnessed by the metastatic cascade, with the goal of identifying opportunities for anti-metastasis interventions. In summary, because the overwhelming majority of cancer-associated deaths are caused by metastatic disease, understanding the complexity of metastasis, especially the roles played by growth factors, is vital for preventing, diagnosing and treating metastasis.
Activated Cdc42‐associated kinase 1 (ACK1), a widely expressed nonreceptor tyrosine kinase, is often amplified in cancer and has been shown to interact with Cell division cycle 42 (Cdc42), Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and several other cancer‐relevant molecules, suggesting a possible role for ACK1 in development and tumor formation. To directly address this scenario, we generated mice lacking a functional ACK1 gene (ACK1 ko) using CRISPR genome editing. ACK1 ko mice developed normally, displayed no obvious defect in tissue maintenance, and were fertile. Primary ACK1‐null keratinocytes showed normal phosphorylation of EGFR, but a tendency toward reduced activation of AKT serine/threonine kinase 1 (Akt) and Mitogen‐activated protein kinase 1 (Erk). DMBA/TPA‐induced skin tumor formation did not reveal significant differences between ACK1 ko and control mice. Deletion of the ACK1 gene in the breast cancer cell lines MDA‐MB‐231, 67NR, MCF7, 4T1, and T47D caused no differences in growth. Furthermore, EGF‐induced phosphorylation kinetics of Erk, Akt, and p130Cas were not detectably altered in T47D cells by the loss of ACK1. Finally, loss of ACK1 in MDA‐MB‐231 and T47D breast cancer cells had a very limited or no effect on directed cell migration. These data do not support a major role for ACK1 in Cdc42 and EGFR signaling, development, or tumor formation.Mice with a ko of the Cdc42 effector Activated Cdc42‐associated kinase 1 (ACK1) showed normal development and normal chemically induced skin tumor formation. ACK1 ko in breast cancer cell lines did not impair proliferation or EGF signaling. These data suggest that ACK1 contrary to the expectations is lacking a major role in development or tumor formation.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has served as the founding member of the large family of growth factor receptors harboring intrinsic tyrosine kinase function. High abundance of EGFR and large internal deletions are frequently observed in brain tumors, whereas point mutations and small insertions within the kinase domain are common in lung cancer. For these reasons EGFR and its preferred heterodimer partner, HER2/ERBB2, became popular targets of anti-cancer therapies. Nevertheless, EGFR research keeps revealing unexpected observations, which are reviewed herein. Once activated by a ligand, EGFR initiates a time-dependent series of molecular switches comprising downregulation of a large cohort of microRNAs, up-regulation of newly synthesized mRNAs, and covalent protein modifications, collectively controlling phenotype-determining genes. In addition to microRNAs, long non-coding RNAs and circular RNAs play critical roles in EGFR signaling. Along with driver mutations, EGFR drives metastasis in many ways. Paracrine loops comprising tumor and stromal cells enable EGFR to fuel invasion across tissue barriers, survival of clusters of circulating tumor cells, as well as colonization of distant organs. We conclude by listing all clinically approved anti-cancer drugs targeting either EGFR or HER2. Because emergence of drug resistance is nearly inevitable, we discuss the major evasion mechanisms.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly lethal cancer, which is refractory to all currently available treatments and bears dismal prognosis. About 70% of all PDAC cases harbor mutations in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene. Many of those are missense mutations, resulting in abundant production of mutant p53 (mutp53) protein in the cancer cells. Analysis of human PDAC patient data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) revealed a negative association between the presence of missense mutp53 and infiltration of CD8+ T cells into the tumor. Moreover, CD8+ T cell infiltration was negatively correlated with the expression of fibrosis-associated genes. Importantly, silencing of endogenous mutp53 in KPC cells, derived from mouse PDAC tumors driven by mutant Kras and mutp53, down-regulated fibrosis and elevated CD8+ T cell infiltration in the tumors arising upon orthotopic injection of these cells into the pancreas of syngeneic mice. Moreover, the tumors generated by mutp53-silenced KPC cells were markedly smaller than those elicited by mutp53-proficient control KPC cells. Altogether, our findings suggest that missense p53 mutations may contribute to worse PDAC prognosis by promoting a more vigorous fibrotic tumor microenvironment and impeding the ability of the immune system to eliminate the cancer cells.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a class of endogenous RNAs characterized by a covalent loop structure. In comparison to other types of RNAs, the abundance of circRNAs is relatively low but due to the circular configuration, their stability is very high. In addition, circRNAs display high degree of tissue specificity. The sponging activity of circRNAs toward microRNAs is the best-described mode of action of circRNAs. However, the ability of circRNAs to bind with specific proteins, as well as to encode short proteins, propose alternative functions. This review introduces the biogenesis of circRNAs and summarizes the roles played by circRNAs in human diseases. These include examples of their functional roles in several organ-specific cancers, such as head and neck and breast and lung cancers. In addition, we review potential functions of circRNAs in diabetes, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. Recently, a growing number of studies have demonstrated involvement of circRNAs in a wide spectrum of signaling molecular pathways, but at the same time many different and controversial views on circRNAs role and function are emerging. We conclude by offering cellular homeostasis generated by networks comprising circular RNAs, other non-coding RNAs and RNA-binding proteins. Accordingly, it is predictable that circRNAs, due to their highly stable nature and remarkable tissue specificity, will emerge as reliable biomarkers of disease course and treatment efficacy.
Cancer immunotherapy focuses on inhibitors of checkpoint proteins, such as programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1). Unlike RAS-mutated lung cancers, EGFR mutant tumors have a generally low response to immunotherapy. Because treatment outcomes vary by EGFR allele, intrinsic and microenvironmental factors may be involved. Among all non-immunological signaling pathways surveyed in patients’ datasets, EGFR signaling is best associated with high PD-L1. Correspondingly, active EGFRs stabilize PD-L1 transcripts and depletion of PD-L1 severely inhibits EGFR-driven tumorigenicity and metastasis in mice. The underlying mechanisms involve the recruitment of phospholipase C-γ1 (PLC-γ1) to a cytoplasmic motif of PD-L1, which enhances PLC-γ1 activation by EGFR. Once stimulated, PLC-γ1 activates calcium flux, Rho GTPases, and protein kinase C, collectively promoting an aggressive phenotype. Anti-PD-L1 antibodies can inhibit these intrinsic functions of PD-L1. Our results portray PD-L1 as a molecular amplifier of EGFR signaling and improve the understanding of the resistance of EGFR+ tumors to immunotherapy.
Sperm-associated antigen 5 (SPAG5) is an important driver of the cell mitotic spindle required for chromosome segregation and progression into anaphase. SPAG5 has been identified as an important proliferation marker and chemotherapy-sensitivity predictor, especially in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer subtypes. Here, we report that SPAG5 is a direct target of miR-10b-3p, and its aberrantly high expression associates with poor disease-free survival in two large cohorts of breast cancer patients. SPAG5 depletion strongly impaired cancer cell cycle progression, proliferation, and migration. Interestingly, high expression of SPAG5 pairs with a YAP/TAZ-activated signature in breast cancer patients. Reassuringly, the depletion of YAP, TAZ, and TEAD strongly reduced SPAG5 expression and diminished its oncogenic effects. YAP, TAZ coactivators, and TEAD transcription factors are key components of the Hippo signaling pathway involved in tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. Furthermore, we report that SPAG5 is a direct transcriptional target of TEAD/YAP/TAZ, and pharmacological targeting of YAP and TAZ severely reduces SPAG5 expression. Collectively, our data uncover an oncogenic feedback loop, comprising miR-10b-3p, SPAG5, and YAP/TAZ/TEAD, which fuels the aberrant proliferation of breast cancer.
Ovarian cancer (OvCA) remains one of the most devastating malignancies, but treatment options are still limited. We report that amphiregulin (AREG) can serve as an effective and safe pharmacological target in a syngeneic murine model. AREG is highly abundant in abdominal fluids of patients with advanced OvCa. In immunocompetent animals, depletion or overexpression of AREG respectively prolonged or shortened animal survival. A new antibody we generated in AREG-knockout mice recognized murine AREG and reproducibly prolonged animal survival in the syngeneic model. The underlying mechanism likely involves binding of wildtype p53 to AREG's promoter and autocrine activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a step blocked by the antibody. Accordingly, depletion of p53 downregulated AREG secretion and conferred tolerance, whereas blocking an adaptive process involving CXCL1, which transactivates EGFR, might increase therapeutic efficacy. Consistent with these observations, analysis of OvCa patients revealed that high AREG correlates with poor prognosis of patients expressing wildtype TP53. In conclusion, clinical tests of the novel antibody are warranted; high AREG, normal TP53, and reduced CXCL1 activity might identify patients with OvCa who may derive therapeutic benefit.
Some antibacterial therapies entail sequential treatments with different antibiotics, but whether this approach is optimal for anti‐cancer tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) remains open. EGFR mutations identify lung cancer patients who can derive benefit from TKIs, but most patients develop resistance to the first‐, second‐, and third‐generation drugs. To explore alternatives to such whack‐a‐mole strategies, we simulated in patient‐derived xenograft models the situation of patients receiving first‐line TKIs. Monotherapies comprising approved first‐line TKIs were compared to combinations with antibodies specific to EGFR and HER2. We observed uniform and strong superiority of all drug combinations over the respective monotherapies. Prolonged treatments, high TKI dose, and specificity were essential for drug–drug cooperation. Blocking pathways essential for mitosis (e.g., FOXM1), along with downregulation of resistance‐conferring receptors (e.g., AXL), might underlie drug cooperation. Thus, upfront treatments using combinations of TKIs and antibodies can prevent emergence of resistance and hence might replace the widely applied sequential treatments utilizing next‐generation TKIs.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs), the subpopulation of cancer cells, have the capability of proliferation, self-renewal, and differentiation. The presence of CSCs is a key factor leading to tumor progression and metastasis. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nano-sized particles released by different kinds of cells and have the capacity to deliver certain cargoes, such as nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids, which have been recognized as a vital mediator in cell-to-cell communication. Recently, more and more studies have reported that EVs shed by CSCs make a significant contribution to tumor progression. CSCs-derived EVs are involved in tumor resistance, metastasis, angiogenesis, as well as the maintenance of stemness phenotype and tumor immunosuppression microenvironment. Here, we summarized the molecular mechanism by which CSCs-derived EVs in tumor progression. We believed that the fully understanding of the roles of CSCs-derived EVs in tumor development will definitely provide new ideas for CSCs-based therapeutic strategies.
Tumor chemosensitivity testing plays a pivotal role in the optimal selection of chemotherapeutic regimens for cancer patients in a personalized manner. High-throughput drug screening approaches have been developed but they failed to take into account intratumor heterogeneity and therefore only provided limited predictive power of therapeutic response to individual cancer patients. Single cancer cell drug sensitivity testing (SCC-DST) has been recently developed to evaluate the variable sensitivity of single cells to different anti-tumor drugs. In this review, we discuss how SCC-DST overcomes the obstacles of traditional drug screening methodologies. We outline critical procedures of SCC-DST responsible for single-cell generation and sorting, cell-drug encapsulation on a microfluidic chip and detection of cell-drug interactions. In SCC-DST, droplet-based microfluidics is emerging as an important platform that integrated various assays and analyses for drug susceptibility tests for individual patients. With the advancement of technology, both fluorescence imaging and label-free analysis have been used for detecting single cell-drug interactions. We also discuss the feasibility of integrating SCC-DST with single-cell RNA sequencing to unravel the mechanisms leading to drug resistance, and utilizing artificial intelligence to facilitate the analysis of various omics data in the evaluation of drug susceptibility. SCC-DST is setting the stage for better drug selection for individual cancer patients in the era of precision medicine.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women worldwide. Patients whose tumors express Estrogen Receptor α account for around 70% of cases and are mostly treated with targeted endocrine therapy. However, depending on the degree of severity of the disease at diagnosis, 10 to 40% of these tumors eventually relapse due to resistance development. Even though recent novel approaches as the combination with CDK4/6 inhibitors increased the overall survival of relapsing patients, this remains relatively short and there is a urgent need to find alternative targetable pathways. In this study we profiled the early phases of the resistance development process to uncover drivers of this phenomenon. Time-resolved analysis revealed that ATF3, a member of the ATF/CREB family of transcription factors, acts as a novel regulator of the response to therapy via rewiring of central signaling processes towards the adaptation to endocrine treatment. ATF3 was found to be essential in controlling crucial processes such as proliferation, cell cycle, and apoptosis during the early response to treatment through the regulation of MAPK/AKT signaling pathways. Its essential role was confirmed in vivo in a mouse model, and elevated expression of ATF3 was verified in patient datasets, adding clinical relevance to our findings. This study proposes ATF3 as a novel mediator of endocrine resistance development in breast cancer and elucidates its role in the regulation of downstream pathways activities.
ERBB2 is a ligand-less tyrosine kinase receptor expressed at very low levels in normal tissues; when overexpressed, it is involved in malignant transformation and tumorigenesis in several carcinomas. In cancer cells, ERBB2 represents the preferred partner of other members of the ERBB receptor family, leading to stronger oncogenic signals, by promoting both ERK and AKT activation. The identification of the specific signaling downstream of ERBB2 has been impaired by the lack of a ligand and of an efficient way to selectively activate the receptor. In this paper, we found that antibodies (Abs) targeting different epitopes on the ERBB2 extracellular domain foster the activation of ERBB2 homodimers, and surprisingly induce a unique cytostatic signaling cascade promoting an ERK-dependent ERBB2-Thr(701) phosphorylation, leading to AKT de-phosphorylation, via PP2A Ser/Thr phosphatases. Furthermore, the immunophilin Cyclophilin A plays a crucial role in this pathway, acting as a negative modulator of AKT de-phosphorylation, possibly by competing with Ser/Thr phosphatases for binding to AKT. Altogether, our data show that Ab recognizing ERBB2 extracellular domain function as receptor agonists, promoting ERBB2 homodimer activation, leading to an anti-proliferative signaling. Thus, the ultimate outcome of ERBB2 activity might depend on the dimerization status: pro-oncogenic in the hetero-, and anti-oncogenic in the homo-dimeric form.
Although two growth factor receptors, EGFR and HER2, are amongst the best targets for cancer treatment, no agents targeting HER3, their kinase-defective family member, have so far been approved. Because emergence of resistance of lung tumors to EGFR kinase inhibitors (EGFRi) associates with compensatory up-regulation of HER3 and several secreted forms, we anticipated that blocking HER3 would prevent resistance. As demonstrated herein, a neutralizing anti-HER3 antibody we generated can clear HER3 from the cell surface, as well as reduce HER3 cleavage by ADAM10, a surface metalloproteinase. When combined with a kinase inhibitor and an anti-EGFR antibody, the antibody completely blocked patient-derived xenograft models that acquired resistance to EGFRi. We found that the underlying mechanism involves posttranslational downregulation of HER3, suppression of MET and AXL upregulation, as well as concomitant inhibition of AKT signaling and upregulation of BIM, which mediates apoptosis. Thus, although HER3 is nearly devoid of kinase activity, it can still serve as an effective drug target in the context of acquired resistance. Because this study simulated in animals the situation of patients who develop resistance to EGFRi and remain with no obvious treatment options, the observations presented herein may warrant clinical testing.
There is an unmet clinical need for improved tissue and liquid biopsy tools for cancer detection. We investigated the proteomic profile of extracellular vesicles and particles (EVPs) in 426 human samples from tissue explants (TEs), plasma, and other bodily fluids. Among traditional exosome markers, CD9, HSPA8, ALIX, and HSP90AB1 represent pan-EVP markers, while ACTB, MSN, and RAP1B are novel pan-EVP markers. To confirm that EVPs are ideal diagnostic tools, we analyzed proteomes of TE- (n = 151) and plasma-derived (n = 120) EVPs. Comparison of TE EVPs identified proteins (e.g., VCAN, TNC, and THBS2) that distinguish tumors from normal tissues with 90% sensitivity/94% specificity. Machine-learning classification of plasma-derived EVP cargo, including immunoglobulins, revealed 95% sensitivity/90% specificity in detecting cancer. Finally, we defined a panel of tumor-type-specific EVP proteins in TEs and plasma, which can classify tumors of unknown primary origin. Thus, EVP proteins can serve as reliable biomarkers for cancer detection and determining cancer type.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), such as PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies (Abs) and anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) Abs, are effective for patients with various cancers. However, low response rates to ICI monotherapies and even hyperprogressive disease (HPD) have limited the clinical application of ICIs. HPD is a novel pattern of progression, with an unexpected and fast progression in tumor volume and rate, poor survival of patients and early fatality. Considering the limitations of ICI due to HPD incidence, valid biomarkers are urgently needed to predict the occurrence of HPD and the efficacy of ICI. Here, we reviewed and summarized the known biomarkers of HPD, including tumor cell biomarkers, tumor microenvironment biomarkers, laboratory biomarkers and clinical indicators, which provide a potential effective approach for selecting patients sensitive to ICI cancer treatments.
EGFR-mutated lung adenocarcinoma patients treated with gefitinib and osimertinib show a therapeutic benefit limited by the appearance of secondary mutations, such as EGFR(T)(790M) m and EGFR(C)(797S). It is generally assumed that these secondary mutations render EGFR completely unresponsive to the inhibitors, but contrary to this, we uncovered here that gefitinib and osimertinib increased STAT3 phosphorylation (p-STAT3) in EGFR(T)(790M) and EGFR(C)(797S) tumoral cells. Interestingly, we also found that concomitant Notch inhibition with gefitinib or osimertinib treatment induced a p-STAT3-dependent strong reduction in the levels of the transcriptional repressor HES1. Importantly, we showed that tyrosine kinase inhibitor-resistant tumors, with EGFR(T)(790M) and EGFR(C)(797S) mutations, were highly responsive to the combined treatment of Notch inhibitors with gefitinib or osimertinib, respectively. Finally, in patients with EGFR mutations treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors, HES1 protein levels increased during relapse and correlated with shorter progression-free survival. Therefore, our results offer a proof of concept for an alternative treatment to chemotherapy in lung adenocarcinoma osimertinib-treated patients after disease progression.
Growth factors and their receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), a group of transmembrane molecules harboring cytoplasm-facing tyrosine-specific kinase functions, play essential roles in migration of multipotent cell populations and rapid proliferation of stem cells' descendants, transit amplifying cells, during embryogenesis and tissue repair. These intrinsic functions are aberrantly harnessed when cancer cells undergo intertwined phases of cell migration and proliferation during cancer progression. For example, by means of clonal expansion growth factors fixate the rarely occurring driver mutations, which initiate tumors. Likewise, autocrine and stromal growth factors propel angiogenesis and penetration into the newly sprouted vessels, which enable seeding micro-metastases at distant organs. We review genetic and other mechanisms that preempt ligand-mediated activation of RTKs, thereby supporting sustained cancer progression. The widespread occurrence of aberrant RTKs and downstream signaling pathways in cancer, identifies molecular targets suitable for pharmacological intervention. We list all clinically approved cancer drugs that specifically intercept oncogenic RTKs. These are mainly tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies, which can inhibit cancer but inevitably become progressively less effective due to adaptive rewiring processes or emergence of new mutations, processes we overview. Similarly important are patient treatments making use of radiation, chemotherapeutic agents and immune checkpoint inhibitors. The many interfaces linking RTK-targeted therapies and these systemic or local regimens are described in details because of the great promise offered by combining pharmacological modalities.
The glucocorticoid receptor (GR) acts as a ubiquitous cortisol-dependent transcription factor (TF). To identify co-factors, we used protein-fragment complementation assays and found that GR recognizes FLI1 and additional ETS family proteins, TFs relaying proliferation and/or migration signals. Following steroid-dependent translocation of FLI1 and GR to the nucleus, the FLI1-specific domain (FLS) binds with GR and strongly enhances GR's transcriptional activity. This interaction has functional consequences in Ewing sarcoma (ES), childhood and adolescence bone malignancies driven by fusions between EWSR1 and FLI1. In vitro, GR knockdown inhibited the migration and proliferation of ES cells, and in animal models, antagonizing GR (or lowering cortisol) retarded both tumor growth and metastasis from bone to lung. Taken together, our findings offer mechanistic rationale for repurposing GR-targeting drugs for the treatment of patients with ES.
By year 2025 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is expected to become the second leading cause of cancer related death. However, other than improved chemotherapy and a small molecule inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), no targeted drugs are currently available. Repurposing of approved drugs might offer a rapid solution. We employed an animal PDAC model, expressing a mutant and a wild type form of p53 and KRAS, respectively. Cetuximab, a clinically approved anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody (mAb) weakly inhibited PDAC xenografts, similar to trastuzumab, a mAb against HER2, a co-receptor of EGFR. Because the combination of cetuximab and trastuzumab only moderately enhanced the anti-tumor effects, we combined each with a home-made mAb to the same receptor and identified two cooperative pairs. The pair of trastuzumab and a murine anti-HER2 mAb better than the anti-EGFR pair inhibited PDAC xenografts, although HER2's abundance in our model is 15-fold lower than the level of EGFR. In vitro studies attribute cooperation to forced receptor endocytosis/degradation and inhibition of both DNA synthesis and cell migration. Taken together, our results identify cooperative pairs of anti-PDAC antibodies and highlight potential mechanisms of anti-tumor effects. (C) 2019 Published by Elsevier Inc.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) comprise an emerging new class of endogenous RNAs expressed abundantly by the eukaryotic transcriptome. They are characterized by a covalently closed loop structure, resulting in RNA molecules that are more stable than linear RNAs. A growing number of studies indicate that circRNAs play critical roles in human diseases and show great potential as biomarkers and therapeutic targets. The molecular events determined by circRNA activity, the circRNA code, involve other types of noncoding RNA molecules, primarily microRNAs, long noncoding RNAs, and RNA-binding proteins. Herein, we mainly focus on the circRNA-microRNA code, showing how this relationship impacts the regulation of gene expression in cancer. The emerging roles for circRNAs in oncogenic pathways highlight new perspectives for the detailed molecular dissection of cancer pathogenesis and, at the same time, offer new opportunities to design innovative therapeutic strategies. Here, we review recent research advancements in understanding the biogenesis, molecular functions, and significance of circRNAs in cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Cancer cells have higher reactive oxygen species (ROS) than normal cells, due to genetic and metabolic alterations. An emerging scenario is that cancer cells increase ROS to activate protumorigenic signaling while activating antioxidant pathways to maintain redox homeostasis. Here we show that, in basal-like and BRCA1-related breast cancer (BC), ROS levels correlate with the expression and activity of the transcription factor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Mechanistically, ROS triggers AhR nuclear accumulation and activation to promote the transcription of both antioxidant enzymes and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand, amphiregulin (AREG). In a mouse model of BRCA1-related BC, cancer-associated AhR and AREG control tumor growth and production of chemokines to attract monocytes and activate proangiogenic function of macrophages in the tumor microenvironment. Interestingly, the expression of these chemokines as well as infiltration of monocytelineage cells (monocyte and macrophages) positively correlated with ROS levels in basal-like BC. These data support the existence of a coordinated link between cancer-intrinsic ROS regulation and the features of tumor microenvironment. Therapeutically, chemical inhibition of AhR activity sensitizes human BC models to Erlotinib, a selective EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, suggesting a promising combinatorial anticancer effect of AhR and EGFR pathway inhibition. Thus, AhR represents an attractive target to inhibit redox homeostasis and modulate the tumor promoting microenvironment of basal-like and BRCA1-associated BC.
Since the approval of the first monoclonal antibody (mAb), rituximab, for hematological malignancies, almost 30 additional mAbs have been approved in oncology. Despite remarkable advances, relatively weak responses and resistance to antibody monotherapy remain major open issue. Overcoming resistance might require combinations of drugs blocking both the major target and the emerging secondary target. We review clinically approved combinations of antibodies and either cytotoxic regimens (chemotherapy and irradiation) or kinase inhibitors. Thereafter, we focus on the most promising and currently very active arena that combines mAbs inhibiting immune checkpoints or growth factor receptors. Clinically approved and experimental oligoclonal mixtures of mAbs targeting different antigens (hetero-combinations) or different epitopes of the same antigen (homo-combinations) are described. Effective oligoclonal mixtures of antibodies that mimic the polyclonal immune response will likely become a mainstay of cancer therapy.
Purpose: Because of emergence of resistance to osimertinib, a third-generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), no targeted treatments are available for patients with lung cancer who lose sensitivity due to new mutations or bypass mechanisms. We examined in animals and in vitro an alternative therapeutic approach making use of antibodies.Experimental Design: An osimertinib-sensitive animal model of lung cancer, which rapidly develops drug resistance, has been employed. To overcome compensatory hyperactivation of ERK, which we previously reported, an anti-EGFR antibody (cetuximab) was combined with other antibodies, as well as with a subtherapeutic dose of osimertinib, and cancer cell apoptosis was assayed.Results: Our animal studies identified a combination of three clinically approved drugs, cetuximab, trastuzumab (an anti-HER2 mAb), and osimertinib (low dose), as an effective and long-lasting treatment that is able to prevent onset of resistance to osimertinib. A continuous schedule of concurrent treatment was sufficient for effective tumor inhibition and for prevention of relapses. Studies employing cultured cells and analyses of tumor extracts indicated that the combination of two mAbs and a subtherapeutic TKI dose sorted EGFR and HER2 for degradation; cooperatively enhanced apoptosis; inhibited activation of ERK; and reduced abundance of several bypass proteins, namely MET, AXL, and HER3.Conclusions: Our in vitro assays and animal studies identified an effective combination of clinically approved drugs that might overcome resistance to irreversible TKIs in clinical settings. The results we present attribute the long-lasting effect of the drug combination to simultaneous blockade of several well-characterized mechanisms of drug resistance.
Cetuximab (CTX) is a monoclonal antibody targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), commonly used to treat patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Unfortunately, objective remissions occur only in a minority of patients and are of short duration, with a population of cells surviving the treatment and eventually enabling CTX resistance. Our previous study on CRC xenopatients associated poor response to CTX with increased abundance of a set of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including the interleukins IL-1A, IL-1B and IL-8. Stemming from these observations, our current work aimed to assess the role of IL-1 pathway activity in CTX resistance. We employed a recombinant decoy TRAP IL-1, a soluble protein combining the human immunoglobulin Fc portion linked to the extracellular region of the IL-1-receptor (IL-1R1), able to sequester IL-1 directly from the medium. We generated stable clones expressing and secreting a functional TRAP IL-1 into the culture medium. Our results show that IL-1R1 inhibition leads to a decreased cell proliferation and a dampened MAPK and AKT axes. Moreover, CRC patients not responding to CTX blockage displayed higher levels of IL-1R1 than responsive subjects, and abundant IL-1R1 is predictive of survival in patient datasets specifically for the consensus molecular subtype 1 (CMS1). We conclude that IL-1R1 abundance may represent a therapeutic marker for patients who become refractory to monoclonal antibody therapy, while inhibition of IL-1R1 by TRAP IL-1 may offer a novel therapeutic strategy.
Each group of the 56 receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) binds with one or more soluble growth factors and coordinates a vast array of cellular functions. These outcomes are tightly regulated by inducible post-translational events, such as tyrosine phosphorylation, ubiquitination, ectodomain shedding, and regulated intramembrane proteolysis. Because of the delicate balance required for appropriate RTK function, cells may become pathogenic upon dysregulation of RTKs themselves or their post-translational covalent modifications. For example, reduced ectodomain shedding and decreased ubiquitination of the cytoplasmic region, both of which enhance growth factor signals, characterize malignant cells. Whereas receptor phosphorylation and ubiquitination are reversible, proteolytic cleavage events are irreversible, and either modification might alter the subcellular localization of RTKs. Herein, we focus on ectodomain shedding by metalloproteinases (including ADAM family proteases), cleavage within the membrane or cytoplasmic regions of RTKs (by gamma-secretases and caspases, respectively), and complete receptor proteolysis in lysosomes and proteasomes. Roles of irreversible modifications in RTK signaling, pathogenesis, and pharmacology are highlighted.
Within the tumor microenvironment, cancer cells coexist with noncancerous adjacent cells that constitute the tumor microenvironment and impact tumor growth through diverse mechanisms. In particular, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) promote tumor progression in multiple ways. Earlier studies have revealed that in normal fibroblasts (NFs), p53 plays a cell nonautonomous tumor-suppressive role to restrict tumor growth. We now wished to investigate the role of p53 in CAFs. Remarkably, we found that the transcriptional program supported by p53 is altered substantially in CAFs relative to NFs. In agreement, the p53-dependent secretome is also altered in CAFs. This transcriptional rewiring renders p53 a significant contributor to the distinct intrinsic features of CAFs, as well as promotes tumor cell migration and invasion in culture. Concordantly, the ability of CAFs to promote tumor growth in mice is greatly compromised by depletion of their endogenous p53. Furthermore, cocultivation of NFs with cancer cells renders their p53-dependent transcriptome partially more similar to that of CAFs. Our findings raise the intriguing possibility that tumor progression may entail a nonmutational conversion ("education") of stromal p53, from tumor suppressive to tumor supportive.
While targeted therapy against HER2 is an effective first-line treatment in HER2+ breast cancer, acquired resistance remains a clinical challenge. The pseudokinase HER3, heterodimerisation partner of HER2, is widely implicated in the resistance to HER2-mediated therapy. Here, we show that lapatinib, an ATP-competitive inhibitor of HER2, is able to induce proliferation cooperatively with the HER3 ligand neuregulin. This counterintuitive synergy between inhibitor and growth factor depends on their ability to promote atypical HER2-HER3 heterodimerisation. By stabilising a particular HER2 conformer, lapatinib drives HER2-HER3 kinase domain heterocomplex formation. This dimer exists in a head-to-head orientation distinct from the canonical asymmetric active dimer. The associated clustering observed for these dimers predisposes to neuregulin responses, affording a proliferative outcome. Our findings provide mechanistic insights into the liabilities involved in targeting kinases with ATP-competitive inhibitors and highlight the complex role of protein conformation in acquired resistance.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) might be considered both predictors and players of cancer development. The aim of the present report was to investigate whether many years before the diagnosis of breast cancer miRNA expression is already disregulated. In order to test this hypothesis, we compared miRNAs extracted from leukocytes in healthy women who later developed breast cancer and in women who remain healthy during the whole 15-year follow-up time. Accordantly, we used a case–control study design nested in the hOrmone and Diet in the ETiology of breast cancer (ORDET) prospective cohort study addressing the possibility that miRNAs can serve as both early biomarkers and components of the hormonal etiological pathways leading to breast cancer development in premenopausal women. We compared leukocyte miRNA profiles of 191 incident premenopausal breast cancer cases and profiles of 191 women who remained healthy over a follow-up period of 20 years. The analysis identified 20 differentially expressed miRNAs in women candidate to develop breast cancer versus control women. The upregulated miRNAs, miR-513-a-5p, miR-513b-5p and miR-513c-5p were among the most significantly deregulated miRNAs. In multivariate analysis, miR-513a-5p upregulation was directly and statistically significant associated with breast cancer risk (OR = 1.69; 95% CI 1.08–2.64; P = 0.0293). In addition, the upregulation of miR-513-a-5p displayed the strongest direct association with serum progesterone and testosterone levels. The experimental data corroborated the inhibitory function of miR-513a-5p on progesterone receptor expression confirming that progesterone receptor is a target of miR-513a-5p. The identification of upregulated miR-513a-5p with its oncogenic potential further validates the use of miRNAs as long-term biomarker of breast cancer risk
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations identify patients with lung cancer who derive benefit from kinase inhibitors. However, most patients eventually develop resistance, primarily due to the T790M second-site mutation. Irreversible inhibitors (e.g., osimertinib/AZD9291) inhibit T790M-EGFR, but several mechanisms, including a third-site mutation, C797S, confer renewed resistance. We previously reported that a triple mixture of monoclonal antibodies, 3xmAbs, simultaneously targeting EGFR, HER2, and HER3, inhibits T790M-expressing tumors. We now report that 3xmAbs, including a triplet containing cetuximab and trastuzumab, inhibits C797S-expressing tumors. Unlike osimertinib, which induces apoptosis, 3xmAbs promotes degradation of the three receptors and induces cellular senescence. Consistent with distinct mechanisms, treatments combining 3xmAbs plus sub-inhibitory doses of osimertinib synergistically and persistently eliminated tumors. Thus, oligoclonal antibodies, either alone or in combination with kinase inhibitors, might preempt repeated cycles of treatment and rapid emergence of resistance.
Mutations mimicking growth factor-induced proliferation and motility characterize aggressive subtypes of mammary tumors. To unravel currently unknown players in these processes, we performed phosphoproteomic analysis on untransformed mammary epithelial cells (MCF10A) that were stimulated in culture with epidermal growth factor (EGF). We identified ladinin-1 (LAD1), a largely uncharacterized protein to date, as a phosphorylation-regulated mediator of the EGF-to-ERK pathway. Further experiments revealed that LAD1 mediated the proliferation and migration of mammary cells. LAD1 was transcriptionally induced, phosphorylated, and partly colocalized with actin stress fibers in response to EGF. Yeast two-hybrid, proximity ligation, and coimmunoprecipitation assays revealed that LAD1 bound to actin-cross-linking proteins called filamins. Cosedimentation analyses indicated that LAD1 played a role in actin dynamics, probably in collaboration with the scaffold protein 14-3-3. (also called SFN). Depletion of LAD1 decreased the expression of transcripts associated with cell survival and inhibited the growth of mammary xenografts in an animal model. Furthermore, LAD1 predicts poor patient prognosis and is highly expressed in aggressive subtypes of breast cancer characterized as integrative clusters 5 and 10, which partly correspond to triple-negative and HER2-positive tumors. Thus, these findings reveal a cytoskeletal component that is critically involved in cell migration and the acquisition of oncogenic attributes in human mammary tumors.
Crosstalk between growth factors (GFs) and steroid hormones recurs in embryogenesis and is co-opted in pathology, but underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Our data from mammary cells imply that the crosstalk between the epidermal GF and gluco-corticoids (GCs) involves transcription factors like p53 and NF-kappa B, along with reduced pausing and traveling of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) at both promoters and bodies of GF-inducible genes. Essentially, GCs inhibit positive feedback loops activated by GFs and stimulate the reciprocal inhibitory loops. As expected, no alterations in DNA methylation accompany the transcriptional events instigated by either stimulus, but forced demethylation of regulatory regions broadened the repertoire of GF-inducible genes. We report that enhancers, like some promoters, are poised for activation by GFs and GCs. In addition, within the cooperative interface of the crosstalk, GFs enhance binding of the GC receptor to DNA and, in synergy with GCs, promote productive RNAPII elongation. Reciprocally, within the antagonistic interface GFs hyper-acetylate chromatin at unmethylated promoters and enhancers of genes involved in motility, but GCs hypoacetylate the corresponding regions. In conclusion, unmethy lated genomic regions that encode feedback regulatory modules and differentially recruit RNAPII and acetylases/deacetylases underlie the crosstalk between GFs and a steroid hormone.
While the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is an established regulator of skin development and homeostasis, the functions of the related tyrosine kinase receptors ERBB2 and ERBB3 in this tissue have only recently been examined. Previously reported, skin-specific deletion of each of these receptors in mice resulted in similar defects in keratinocyte proliferation and migration, resulting in impaired wound healing and tumorigenesis. Because both ERBB2 and ERBB3 are targets for treating an array of cancer types, it is important to examine the consequences of receptor inhibition in human keratinocytes. Here, we employed the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to generate HaCaT cells (an established human keratinocyte cell line) lacking ERBB2 or ERBB3. HaCaT clones lacking ERBB2 or ERBB3 showed comparable reductions in cell proliferation as assessed by BrdU staining. Apoptosis, in contrast, was reduced in ERBB3-deficient HaCaT cells only. Assessment of cell migration using a wound healing (scratch) assay showed that the closure of the wound gaps was completed by 48 h in mock and in ERBB3 knockout clones. In contrast, this process was considerably delayed in ERBB2 knockout clones, and a complete closure of the gap in the latter cells did not occur before 72 h. In conclusion, both ERBB2 and ERBB3 are essential for normal proliferation of skin keratinocytes, but in contrast to ERBB3, ERBB2 is essential for migration of human keratinocytes. These observations might bear significance to patient adverse effects of therapeutic agents targeting ERBB2 and ERBB3.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma has limited treatment options. There is an urgent need for developing appropriate pre-clinical models recapitulating metastatic disease, the most common clinical scenario at presentation. Ascites accumulation occurs in up to 20-30% of patients with pancreatic cancer; this milieu represents a highly cellular research resource of metastatic peritoneal spread. In this study, we utilized pancreatic ascites/pleural effusion cancer cells to establish patient derived xenografts. Ascites/pleural effusion-patient derived xenografts were established from twelve independent cases. Xenografts were serially passed in nude mice and tissue bio-specimen banking has been established. Histopathology of emergent tumors demonstrates poorly to moderately differentiated, glandular and mucin producing tumors, mirroring morphology of primary pancreatic cancer tumors. Whole genome sequencing of six patient derived xenografts samples demonstrates common mutations and structural variations similar to those reported in primary pancreatic cancer. Xenograft tumors were dissociated to single-cells and in-vitro drug sensitivity screen assays demonstrated chemo-resistance, correlating with patient clinical scenarios, thus serving as a platform for clinically relevant translational research. Therefore, establishment of this novel ascites/pleural effusion patient derived xenograft model, with extensive histopathology and genomic characterization, opens an opportunity for the study of advanced aggressive pancreatic cancer. Characterization of metastatic disease and mechanisms of resistance to therapeutics may lead to the development of novel drug combinations.
Traditional "bottom-up" proteomic approaches use proteolytic digestion, LC-MS/MS, and database searching to elucidate peptide identities and their parent proteins. Protein sequences absent from the database cannot be identified, and even if present in the database, complete sequence coverage is rarely achieved even for the most abundant proteins in the sample. Thus, sequencing of unknown proteins such as antibodies or constituents of metaproteomes remains a challenging problem. To date, there is no available method for full-length protein sequencing, independent of a reference database, in high throughput. Here, we present Database-independent Protein Sequencing, a method for unambiguous, rapid, database-independent, full-length protein sequencing. The method is a novel combination of non-enzymatic, semi-random cleavage of the protein, LC-MS/MS analysis, peptide de novo sequencing, extraction of peptide tags, and their assembly into a consensus sequence using an algorithm named "Peptide Tag Assembler." As proof-of-concept, the method was applied to samples of three known proteins representing three size classes and to a previously un-sequenced, clinically relevant monoclonal antibody. Excluding leucine/isoleucine and glutamic acid/deamidated glutamine ambiguities, end-to-end full-length de novo sequencing was achieved with 99-100% accuracy for all benchmarking proteins and the antibody light chain. Accuracy of the sequenced antibody heavy chain, including the entire variable region, was also 100%, but there was a 23-residue gap in the constant region sequence.
Breast cancer subtypes display distinct biological traits that influence their clinical behavior and response to therapy. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of chromatin structure regulators in tumorigenesis. The RNF20-RNF40 E3 ubiquitin ligase complex monoubiquitylates histone H2B to generate H2Bub1, while the deubiquitinase (DUB) USP44 can remove this modification. We found that RNF20 and RNF40 expression and global H2Bub1 are relatively low, and USP44 expression is relatively high, in basal-like breast tumors compared with luminal tumors. Consistent with a tumor-suppressive role, silencing of RNF20 in basal-like breast cancer cells increased their proliferation and migration, and their tumorigenicity and metastatic capacity, partly through upregulation of inflammatory cytokines. In contrast, in luminal breast cancer cells, RNF20 silencing reduced proliferation, migration and tumorigenic and metastatic capacity, and compromised estrogen receptor transcriptional activity, indicating a tumor-promoting role. Notably, the effects of USP44 silencing on proliferation and migration in both cancer subtypes were opposite to those of RNF20 silencing. Hence, RNF20 and H2Bub1 have contrasting roles in distinct breast cancer subtypes, through differential regulation of key transcriptional programs underpinning the distinctive traits of each subtype.
Protein responses to extracellular cues are governed by gene transcription, mRNA degradation and translation, and protein degradation. In order to understand how these time-dependent processes cooperate to generate dynamic responses, we analyzed the response of human mammary cells to the epidermal growth factor (EGF). Integrating time-dependent transcript and protein data into a mathematical model, we inferred for several proteins their pre- and post-stimulus translation and degradation coefficients and found that they exhibit complex, time-dependent variation. Specifically, we identified strategies of protein production and degradation acting in concert to generate rapid, transient protein bursts in response to EGF. Remarkably, for some proteins, for which the response necessitates rapidly decreased abundance, cells exhibit a transient increase in the corresponding degradation coefficient. Our model and analysis allow inference of the kinetics of mRNA translation and protein degradation, without perturbing cells, and open a way to understanding the fundamental processes governing time-dependent protein abundance profiles.
A relatively well-understood multistep process enables mutation-bearing cells to form primary tumours, which later use the circulation system to colonize new locations and form metastases. However, in which way the emerging abundance of different non-coding RNAs supports tumour progression is poorly understood. Here, we review new lines of evidence linking long and short types of non-coding RNAs to signalling pathways activated in the course of cancer progression by growth factors and by the tumour micro-environment. Resolving the new dimension of non-coding RNAs in oncogenesis will probably translate to earlier detection of cancer and improved therapeutic strategies.
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) activates a robust signalling network to which colon cancer tumours often become addicted. Cetuximab, one of the monoclonal antibodies targeting this pathway, is employed to treat patients with colorectal cancer. However, many patients are intrinsically refractory to this treatment, and those who respond develop secondary resistance along time. Mechanisms of cancer cell resistance include either acquisition of new mutations or non genomic activation of alternative signalling routes. In this study, we employed a colon cancer model to assess potential mechanisms driving resistance to cetuximab. Resistant cells displayed increased ability to grow in suspension as colonspheres and this phenotype was associated with poorly organized structures. Factors secreted from resistant cells were causally involved in sustaining resistance, indeed administration to parental cells of conditioned medium collected from resistant cells was sufficient to reduce cetuximab efficacy. Among secreted factors, we report herein that a signature of inflammatory cytokines, including IL1A, IL1B and IL8, which are produced following EGFR pathway activation, was associated with the acquisition of an unresponsive phenotype to cetuximab in vitro. This signature correlated with lack of response to EGFR targeting also in patient-derived tumour xenografts. Collectively, these results highlight the contribution of inflammatory cytokines to reduced sensitivity to EGFR blockade and suggest that inhibition of this panel of cytokines in combination with cetuximab might yield an effective treatment strategy for CRC patients refractory to anti-EGFR targeting.
The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are publishing a new edition of the ESMO/ ASCO Global Curriculum (GC) thanks to contribution of 64 ESMOappointed and 32 ASCO-appointed authors. First published in 2004 and updated in 2010, the GC edition 2016 answers to the need for updated recommendations for the training of physicians in medical oncology by defining the standard to be fulfilled to qualify as medical oncologists. At times of internationalisation of healthcare and increased mobility of patients and physicians, the GC aims to provide state-of-the-art cancer care to all patients wherever they live. Recent progress in the field of cancer research has indeed resulted in diagnostic and therapeutic innovations such as targeted therapies as a standard therapeutic approach or personalised cancer medicine specialised training for medical oncology trainees. Thus, several new chapters on technical contents such as molecular pathology, translational research or molecular imaging and on conceptual attitudes towards human principles like genetic counselling or survivorship have been integrated in the GC. The GC edition 2016 consists of 12 sections with 17 subsections, 44 chapters and 35 subchapters, respectively. Besides renewal in its contents, the GC underwent a principal formal change taking into consideration modern didactic principles. It is presented in a template-based format that subcategorises the detailed outcome requirements into learning objectives, awareness, knowledge and skills. Consecutive steps will be those of harmonising and implementing teaching and assessment strategies.
The ErbB family of tyrosine kinase receptors is a key element in preserving cell growth homeostasis. This family is comprised of four single-transmembrane domain proteins designated ErbB-1-4. Ligand binding initiates dimerization followed by tyrosine phosphorylation and signaling, which when uncontrolled lead to cancer. Accordingly, extensive research has been devoted to finding ErbB-intercepting agents, directed against ErbB-1 and ErbB-2, but so far, no inhibitor has targeted the transmembrane domain (TMD), which is instrumental for receptor dimerization and activation. Moreover, no antitumor agents targeted ErbB-3, which although it cannot generate signals in isolation, its heterodimerization with ErbB-2 leads to the most powerful and oncogenic signaling unit in the ErbB family. Here, to further elucidate the role of the interactions between the TMDs of the ErbB family in cancer, we investigated peptides derived from the TMDs of ErbB-1 and ErbB-2. We then focused on the C-terminal domains (B2C) and their analogue, named B2C-D, that contains both D- and L-amino acids. Both peptides incorporated the distal GXXXG dimerization motif to target the TMD of ErbB-3. Our results revealed that B2C-D is highly active both in vitro and in vivo. It significantly inhibits neuregulin- and EGF-induced ErbB activation, impedes the proliferation of a battery of human cancer cell lines, and retards tumor growth in vivo. Notably, combining low concentrations of B2C-D and gemcitabine chemotherapy completely arrested proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells. Biochemical and in vitro interaction studies suggest direct interference with the assembly of the wild-type ErbB-2 ErbB-3 heterodimer as the underlying mode of action. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first agent to target the TMDs of ErbB to delay tumor growth and signaling.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a chronic progressive malignancy of plasma cells. Although treatment with the novel proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib, significantly improves patient survival, some patients fail to respond due to the development of de novo resistance. We have previously shown that cytotoxic drugs can induce pro-tumorigenic host-mediated effects which contribute to tumour re-growth and metastasis, and thus limit anti-tumour efficacy. However, such effects and their impact on tumour cell aggressiveness have not been investigated using cytostatic agents such as bortezomib. Here we show that plasma from bortezomib-treated mice significantly increases migration, viability and proliferation of MM cells in vitro, compared to plasma from vehicle treated mice. In vivo, bortezomib induces the mobilization of pro-angiogenic bone marrow cells. Furthermore, mice treated with bortezomib and subsequently were used as recipients for an injection of MM cells succumb to MM earlier than mice treated with the vehicle. We show that bortezomib promotes pro-inflammatory macrophages which account for MM cell aggressiveness, an effect which is partially mediated by interleukin-16. Accordingly, co-inoculation of MM cells with pro-inflammatory macrophages from bortezomib-treated mice accelerates MM disease progression. Taken together, our results suggest that, in addition to the known effective anti-tumour activity of bortezomib, host-driven pro-tumorigenic effects generated in response to treatment can promote MM aggressiveness, and thus may contribute to the overall limited efficacy. Copyright (C) 2016 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and a coreceptor denoted HER2/ERBB2 are frequently overexpressed or mutated in solid tumors, such as carcinomas and gliomas. In line with driver roles, cancer drugs intercepting EGFR or HER2 currently outnumber therapies targeting other hubs of signal transduction. To explain the roles for EGFR and HER2 as prime drivers and targets, we take lessons from invertebrates and refer to homeostatic regulation of several mammalian tissues. The model we infer ascribes to the EGFR-HER2 module pivotal functions in rapid clonal expansion of progenitors called transient amplifying cells (TACs). Accordingly, TACs of tumors suffer from replication stress, and hence accumulate mutations. In addition, several lines of evidence propose that in response to EGF and related mitogens, TACs might undergo dedifferentiation into tissue stem cells, which might enable entry of oncogenic mutations into the stem cell compartment. According to this view, antibodies or kinase inhibitors targeting EGFR-HER2 effectively retard some solid tumors because they arrest mutation- enriched TACs and possibly inhibit their dedifferentiation. Deeper understanding of the EGFR-HER2 module and relations between cancer stem cells and TACs will enhance our ability to control a broad spectrum of human malignancies.
Abnormal architectures of collagen fibers in the extracellular matrix (ECM) are hallmarks of many invasive diseases, including cancer. Targeting specific stages of collagen assembly in vivo presents a great challenge due to the involvement of various crosslinking enzymes in the multi-step, hierarchical process of ECM build-up. Using advanced microscopic tools, we monitored stages of fibrillary collagen assembly in a native fibroblast-derived 3D matrix system, and identified anti-lysyl oxidase like 2 (LOXL2) antibodies that alter the natural alignment and width of endogenic fibrillary collagens without affecting ECM composition. The disrupted collagen morphologies interfered with the adhesion and invasion properties of human breast cancer cells. Treatment of mice bearing breast cancer xenografts with the inhibitory antibodies resulted in disruption of the tumorigenic collagen super-structure and in reduction of primary tumor growth. Our approach could serve as a general methodology to identify novel therapeutics targeting fibrillary protein organization to treat ECM-associated pathologies.
2016 The British Pharmacological Society.Antibody-based therapy of cancer employs monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific to soluble ligands, membrane antigens of T-lymphocytes or proteins located at the surface of cancer cells. The latter mAbs are often combined with cytotoxic regimens, because they block survival of residual fractions of tumours that evade therapy-induced cell death. Antibodies, along with kinase inhibitors, have become in the last decade the mainstay of oncological pharmacology. However, partial and transient responses, as well as emergence of tumour resistance, currently limit clinical application of mAbs. To overcome these hurdles, oligoclonal antibody mixtures are being tested in animal models and in clinical trials. The first homo-combination of two mAbs, each engaging a distinct site of HER2, an oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK), has been approved for treatment of breast cancer. Likewise, a hetero-combination of antibodies to two distinct T-cell antigens, PD1 and CTLA4, has been approved for treatment of melanoma. In a similar vein, additive or synergistic anti-tumour effects observed in animal models have prompted clinical testing of hetero-combinations of antibodies simultaneously engaging distinct RTKs. We discuss the promise of antibody cocktails reminiscent of currently used mixtures of chemotherapeutics and highlight mechanisms potentially underlying their enhanced clinical efficacy.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are widespread circles of non-coding RNAs with largely unknown function. Because stimulation of mammary cells with the epidermal growth factor (EGF) leads to dynamic changes in the abundance of coding and non-coding RNA molecules, and culminates in the acquisition of a robust migratory phenotype, this cellular model might disclose functions of circRNAs. Here we show that circRNAs of EGF-stimulated mammary cells are stably expressed, while mRNAs and microRNAs change within minutes. In general, the circRNAs we detected are relatively long-lived and weakly expressed. Interestingly, they are almost ubiquitously co-expressed with the corresponding linear transcripts, and the respective, shared promoter regions are more active compared to genes producing linear isoforms with no detectable circRNAs. These findings imply that altered abundance of circRNAs, unlike changes in the levels of other RNAs, might not play critical roles in signaling cascades and downstream transcriptional networks that rapidly commit cells to specific outcomes.
Emerging evidence point to a crucial role for non-coding RNAs in modulating homeostatic signaling under physiological and pathological conditions. MicroRNAs, the best-characterized non-coding RNA5 to date, can exquisitely integrate spatial and temporal signals in complex networks, thereby confer specificity and sensitivity to tissue response to changes in the microenvironment. MicroRNAs appear as preferential partners for Receptor Tyrosine Kinases (RTKs) in mediating signaling under stress conditions. Stress signaling can be especially relevant to disease. Here we focus on the ability of microRNAs to mediate RTK signaling in cancer, by acting as both tumor suppressors and oncogenes. We will provide a few general examples of microRNAs modulating specific tumorigenic functions downstream of RTK signaling and integrate oncogenic signals from multiple RTKs. A special focus will be devoted to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling, a system offering relatively rich information. We will explore the role of selected microRNAs as bidirectional modulators of EGFR functions in cancer cells. In addition, we will present the emerging evidence for microRNAs being specifically modulated by oncogenic EGFR mutants and we will discuss how this impinges on EGFRmut driven chemoresistance, which fits into the tumor heterogeneity-driven cancer progression. Finally, we discuss how other non-coding RNA species are emerging as important modulators of cancer progression and why the scenario depicted herein is destined to become increasingly complex in the future. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Tyrosine-specific and other protein kinases are embedded in signaling networks critical for progression of tumors of all types. Hence, kinase inhibitors have nucleated a major arm of personalized cancer therapy. Unfortunately, almost all kinase inhibitors evoke resistance within a year or two, due to secondary mutations, and other alterations within the targeted kinase, or due to emergence of feedback regulatory loops that compensate for extinguished kinases. We review clinically approved kinase inhibitors and the emergence of resistance in leukemia, melanoma, lung and breast tumors, and draw parallel lines in terms of secondary mutations and compensatory mechanisms. Currently emerging are pharmacological strategies able to circumvent resistance and re-sensitize patients to therapeutic treatments. They include second and third generation inhibitors that overcome new mutations, novel drug combinations that simultaneously block the primary oncogenic pathway and compensatory routes, as well as monoclonal antibodies. Deeper understanding of biological signaling networks and their responses to perturbations will aid in the development of effective therapies for patients with cancer. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Growth factors of the epidermal growth factor (EGF)/neuregulin family are involved in tumor progression and, accordingly, antibodies that intercept a cognate receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/ERBB1, or a co-receptor, HER2, have been approved for cancer therapy. Although they might improve safety and delay onset of chemoresistance, no anti-ligand antibodies have been clinically approved. To identify suitable ligands, we surveyed fluids from ovarian and lung cancer patients and found that amphiregulin (AREG) is the most abundant and generalized ligand secreted by advanced tumors. AREG is a low affinity EGFR ligand, which is upregulated following treatment with chemotherapeutic drugs. Because AREG depletion retarded growth of xenografted ovarian tumors in mice, we generated a neutralizing monoclonal anti-AREG antibody. The antibody inhibited growth of ovarian cancer xenografts and strongly enhanced chemotherapy efficacy. Taken together, these results raise the possibility that AREG and other low- or high-affinity binders of EGFR might serve as potential targets for cancer therapy.
Although the recently concluded CLEOPATRA trial showed clinical benefits of combining trastuzumab and pertuzumab for treating HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, trastuzumab monotherapy is still the mainstay in adjuvant settings. Since trastuzumab resistance occurs in over half of these cancers, we examined the mechanisms by which treatment of intrinsically trastuzumab-resistant and -sensitive tumors can benefit from the combination of these antibodies. F(ab)(2) of both trastuzumab and pertuzumab were generated and validated in order to separately analyze antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC)-based and direct biological effects of the antibodies. Compared to monotherapy, combination of the two antibodies at clinically permitted doses enhanced the recruitment of natural killer cells responsible for ADCC, and significantly delayed the outgrowth of xenografts from intrinsically trastuzumab-resistant JIMT-1 cells. Antibody dose-response curves of in vitro ADCC showed that antibody-mediated killing can be saturated, and the two antibodies exert an additive effect at sub-saturation doses. Thus, the additive effect in vivo indicates that therapeutic tissue levels likely do not saturate ADCC. Additionally, isobole studies with the in vitro trastuzumab-sensitive BT-474 cells showed that the direct biological effect of combined treatment is additive, and surpasses the maximum effect of either monotherapy. Our results suggest the combined therapy is expected to give results that are superior to monotherapy, whatever the type of HER2-positive tumor may be. The combination of both antibodies at maximum clinically approved doses should thus be administered to patients to recruit maximum ADCC and cause maximum direct biological growth inhibition.
2016 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as regulators of gene expression in pathogenesis, including cancer. Recently, lncRNAs have been implicated in progression of specific subtypes of breast cancer. One aggressive, basal-like subtype associates with increased EGFR signaling, while another, the HER2-enriched subtype, engages a kin of EGFR Based on the premise that EGFR-regulated lncRNAs might control the aggressiveness of basal-like tumors, we identified multiple EGFR-inducible lncRNAs in basal-like normal cells and overlaid them with the transcriptomes of over 3,000 breast cancer patients. This led to the identification of 11 prognostic lncRNAs. Functional analyses of this group uncovered LINC01089 (here renamed LncRNA Inhibiting Metastasis; LIMT), a highly conserved lncRNA, which is depleted in basal-like and in HER2-positive tumors, and the low expression of which predicts poor patient prognosis. Interestingly, EGF rapidly downregulates LIMT expression by enhancing histone deacetylation at the respective promoter. We also find that LIMT inhibits extracellular matrix invasion of mammary cells invitro and tumor metastasis invivo In conclusion, lncRNAs dynamically regulated by growth factors might act as novel drivers of cancer progression and serve as prognostic biomarkers.
Cancer progression depends on stepwise accumulation of oncogenic mutations and a select group of growth factors essential for tumor growth, metastasis and angiogenesis. Agents blocking the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR, also called HER1 and ERBB1) and the co-receptor called HER2/ERBB2 have been approved over the last decade as anti-cancer drugs. Because the catalytically defective member of the family, HER3/ERBB3, plays critical roles in emergence of resistance of carcinomas to various drugs, current efforts focus on antibodies and other anti-HER3/ERBB3 agents, which we review herein with an emphasis on drug combinations and some unique biochemical features of HER3/ERBB3.
We present a system of nonlinear ordinary differential equations used to quantify the complex dynamics of the interactions between tumor growth, vasculature generation, and antiangiogenic treatment. The primary dataset consists of longitudinal tumor size measurements (1,371 total observations) in 105 colorectal tumor-bearing mice. Mice received single or combination administration of sunitinib, an antiangiogenic agent, and/or irinotecan, a cytotoxic agent. Depending on the dataset, parameter estimation was performed either using a mixed-effect approach or by nonlinear least squares. Through a log-likelihood ratio test, we conclude that there is a potential synergistic interaction between sunitinib when administered in combination with irinotecan in preclinical settings. Model simulations were then compared to data from a follow-up preclinical experiment. We conclude that the model has predictive value in identifying the therapeutic window in which the timing between the administrations of these two drugs is most effective.
Brain metastasis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality of lung cancer patients. We assessed whether aberrant expression of specific microRNAs could contribute to brain metastasis. Comparison of primary lung tumors and their matched metastatic brain disseminations identified shared patterns of several microRNAs, including common down-regulation of miR-145-5p. Down-regulation was attributed to methylation of miR-145's promoter and affiliated elevation of several protein targets, such as EGFR, OCT-4, MUC-1, c-MYC and, interestingly, tumor protein D52 (TPD52). In line with these observations, restored expression of miR-145-5p and selective depletion of individual targets markedly reduced in vitro and in vivo cancer cell migration. In aggregate, our results attribute to miR-145-5p and its direct targets pivotal roles in malignancy progression and in metastasis.
Despite initial responses to targeted kinase inhibitors, lung cancer patients presenting with primary epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations acquire resistance, often due to a second-site mutation (T790M). However, clinical trials found no survival benefits in patients treated with a monoclonal antibody (mAb) to EGFR that should block activation of the mutated receptor and thus bypass resistance to molecules that target the catalytic or ATP-binding site. Using cell lines with the T790M mutation, we discovered that prolonged exposure to mAbs against only the EGFR triggered network rewiring by (i) stimulating the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway; (ii) inducing the transcription of HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) and HER3, which encode other members of the EGFR family, and the gene encoding HGF, which is the ligand for the receptor tyrosine kinase MET; and (iii) stimulating the interaction between MET and HER3, which promoted MET activity. Supplementing the EGFR-specific mAb with those targeting HER2 and HER3 suppressed these compensatory feedback loops in cultured lung cancer cells. The triple mAb combination targeting all three receptors prevented the activation of ERK, accelerated the degradation of the receptors, inhibited the proliferation of tumor cells but not of normal cells, and markedly reduced the growth of tumors in mice xenografted with cells that were resistant to combined treatment with erlotinib and the single function-blocking EGFR mAb. These findings uncovered feedback loops that enable resistance to treatment paradigms that use a single antibody and indicate a new strategy for the treatment of lung cancer patients.
The murine neonatal heart can regenerate after injury through cardiomyocyte (CM) proliferation, although this capacity markedly diminishes after the first week of life. Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) administration has been proposed as a strategy to promote cardiac regeneration. Here, using loss- and gain-of-function genetic tools, we explore the role of the NRG1 co-receptor ERBB2 in cardiac regeneration. NRG1-induced CM proliferation diminished one week after birth owing to a reduction in ERBB2 expression. CM-specific Erbb2 knockout revealed that ERBB2 is required for CM proliferation at embryonic/neonatal stages. Induction of a constitutively active ERBB2 (caERBB2) in neonatal, juvenile and adult CMs resulted in cardiomegaly, characterized by extensive CM hypertrophy, dedifferentiation and proliferation, differentially mediated by ERK, AKT and GSK beta/beta-catenin signalling pathways. Transient induction of caERBB2 following myocardial infarction triggered CM dedifferentiation and proliferation followed by redifferentiation and regeneration. Thus, ERBB2 is both necessary for CM proliferation and sufficient to reactivate postnatal CM proliferative and regenerative potentials.
Dissemination of primary tumor cells depends on migratory and invasive attributes. Here, we identify Navigator-3 (NAV3), a gene frequently mutated or deleted in human tumors, as a regulator of epithelial migration and invasion. Following induction by growth factors, NAV3 localizes to the plus ends of microtubules and enhances their polarized growth. Accordingly, NAV3 depletion trimmed microtubule growth, prolonged growth factor signaling, prevented apoptosis and enhanced random cell migration. Mathematical modeling suggested that NAV3-depleted cells acquire an advantage in terms of the way they explore their environment. In animal models, silencing NAV3 increased metastasis, whereas ectopic expression of the wild-type form, unlike expression of two, relatively unstable oncogenic mutants from human tumors, inhibited metastasis. Congruently, analyses of >2,500 breast and lung cancer patients associated low NAV3 with shorter survival. We propose that NAV3 inhibits breast cancer progression by regulating microtubule dynamics, biasing directionally persistent rather than random migration, and inhibiting locomotion of initiated cells.
Growth factors promote tumor growth and metastasis. We found that epidermal growth factor (EGF) induced a set of 22 microRNAs (miRNAs) before promoting the migration of mammary cells. These miRNAs were more abundant in human breast tumors relative to the surrounding tissue, and their abundance varied among breast cancer subtypes. One of these miRNAs, miR-15b, targeted the 3' untranslated region of MTSS1 (metastasis suppressor protein 1). Although xenografts in which MTSS1 was knocked down grew more slowly in mice initially, longer-term growth was unaffected. Knocking down MTSS1 increased migration and Matrigel invasion of nontransformed mammary epithelial cells. Overexpressing MTSS1 in an invasive cell line decreased cell migration and invasiveness, decreased the formation of invadopodia and actin stress fibers, and increased the formation of cellular junctions. In tissues from breast cancer patients with the aggressive basal subtype, an inverse correlation occurred with the high expression of miRNA-15b and the low expression of MTSS1. Furthermore, low abundance of MTSS1 correlated with poor patient prognosis. Thus, growth factor-inducible miRNAs mediate mechanisms underlying the progression of cancer.
The human EGF receptor (HER/EGFR) family of receptor tyrosine kinases serves as a key target for cancer therapy. Specifically, EGFR and HER2 have been repeatedly targeted because of their genetic aberrations in tumors. The therapeutic potential of targeting HER3 has long been underestimated, due to relatively low expression in tumors and impaired kinase activity. Nevertheless, in addition to serving as a dimerization partner of EGFR and HER2, HER3 acts as a key player in tumor cells' ability to acquire resistance to cancer drugs. In this study, we generated several monoclonal antibodies to HER3. Comparisons of their ability to degrade HER3, decrease downstream signaling, and inhibit growth of cultured cells, as well as recruit immune effector cells, selected an antibody that later emerged as the most potent inhibitor of pancreatic cancer cells grown as tumors in animals. Our data predict that anti-HER3 antibodies able to intercept autocrine and stroma-tumor interactions might strongly inhibit tumor growth, in analogy to the mechanism of action of anti-EGFR antibodies routinely used now to treat colorectal cancer patients.
Although antibodies against EGFR and HER2 are used to treat cancer, only some patients respond and resistance often emerges. Jacobsen and colleagues present in this issue experimental evidence favoring replacement of the currently applied monoclonal antibodies with oligoclonal mixtures of six synergistic antibodies, simultaneously engaging EGFR, HER2, and also HER3. 2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
Amplified HER2, which encodes a member of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family, is a target of effective therapies against breast cancer. In search for similarly targetable genomic aberrations, we identified copy number gains in SYNJ2, which encodes the 5'-inositol lipid phosphatase synaptojanin 2, as well as overexpression in a small fraction of human breast tumors. Copy gain and overexpression correlated with shorter patient survival and a low abundance of the tumor suppressor microRNA miR-31. SYNJ2 promoted cell migration and invasion in culture and lung metastasis of breast tumor xenografts in mice. Knocking down SYNJ2 impaired the endocytic recycling of EGFR and the formation of cellular lamellipodia and invadopodia. Screening compound libraries identified SYNJ2-specific inhibitors that prevented cell migration but did not affect the related neural protein SYNJ1, suggesting that SYNJ2 is a potentially druggable target to block cancer cell migration.
Aptamers are an emerging class of molecules in cancer therapy. They can be easily synthesized and are considered cost-effective drug candidates. In this book chapter we describe the selection and characterization of DNA aptamers specific to the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (ERBB2/HER2), an oncogenic tyrosine kinase. First, a DNA aptamer library is applied and ERBB2-specific aptamers are selected using SELEX. Binders are subcloned into a pGEM-T vector, sequenced, and characterized using biochemical and cell biological techniques. By multimerizing the selected ERBB2 aptamers, it might be possible to significantly increase their avidity. For example, we could show that a trimeric ERBB2-specific aptamer could efficiently internalize membranal ERBB2. Furthermore, the receptor assembled in cytoplasmic puncta and was finally degraded by the lysosome. In addition, the selected, trimeric aptamer inhibited proliferation in an XTT assay in comparison to a control sequence. Aptamers selected using the protocol we describe might exert anticancer effect. In our example of a trimeric anti-HER2 aptamer, we could report that a human gastric xenograft mouse model demonstrated pharmacological value of the selected aptamer in vivo. This chapter should enable the interested reader to replicate selection of DNA aptamers specific to oncogenic cell surface. We would like to particularly emphasize some experimental approaches which were used to further characterize selected aptamer sequences, upon SELEX selection. For instance, we included several blotting techniques, antiproliferative assays of aptamers in vitro, and describe the handling of an in vivo human xenograft mouse model.
Background: miRNAs have been implicated in the regulation of key metabolic, inflammatory, and malignant pathways; hence, they might be considered both predictors and players of cancer development. Methods: Using a case-control study design nested in the ORDET prospective cohort study, we addressed the possibility that specific mRNAs can serve as early predictors of breast cancer incidence in postmenopausal women. We compared leukocyte miRNA profiles of 133 incident postmenopausal breast cancer cases and profiles of 133 women who remained healthy over a follow-up period of 20 years. Results: The analysis identified 20 differentially expressed miRNAs, 15 of which were downregulated. Of the 20 miRNAs, miR145-5p and miR145-3p, each derived from another arm of the respective pre-miRNA, were consistently and significantly downregulated in all the databases that we surveyed. For example, analysis of more than 1,500 patients (the UK Metabric cohort) indicated that high abundance of miR145-3p and miR145-5p was associated with longer, and for miR145-3p also statistically significant, survival. The experimental data attributed different roles to the identified miRNAs: Although the 5p isoform was associated with invasion and metastasis, the other isoform seems related to cell proliferation. Conclusions: These observations and the prospective design of our study lend support to the hypothesis that downregulation of specific miRNAs constitutes an early event in cancer development. This finding might be used for breast cancer prevention. Impact: The identification of the miRNAs as long-term biomarkers of breast cancer may have an impact on breast cancer prevention and early detection. (C)2014 AACR.
Signal transduction by receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and nuclear receptors for steroid hormones is essential for body homeostasis, but the cross-talk between these receptor families is poorly understood. We observed that glucocorticoids inhibit signalling downstream of EGFR, an RTK. The underlying mechanism entails suppression of EGFR's positive feedback loops and simultaneous triggering of negative feedback loops that normally restrain EGFR. Our studies in mice reveal that the regulation of EGFR's feedback loops by glucocorticoids translates to circadian control of EGFR signalling: EGFR signals are suppressed by high glucocorticoids during the active phase (night-time in rodents), while EGFR signals are enhanced during the resting phase. Consistent with this pattern, treatment of animals bearing EGFR-driven tumours with a specific kinase inhibitor was more effective if administered during the resting phase of the day, when glucocorticoids are low. These findings support a circadian clock-based paradigm in cancer therapy.
Tumor initiation and progression are the outcomes of a stepwise accumulation of genetic alterations. Among these, gene amplification and aberrant expression of oncogenic proteins, as well as deletion or inactivation of tumor suppressor genes, represent hallmark steps. Mounting evidence collected over the last few years has identified different populations of non-coding RNAs as major players in tumor suppression in almost all cancer types. Elucidating the diverse molecular mechanisms underlying the roles of non-coding RNAs in tumor progression might provide illuminating insights, potentially able to assist improved diagnosis, better staging and effective treatments of human cancers. Here we focus on several groups of tumor suppressor microRNAs, whose downregulation exerts a profound oncologic impact and might be harnessed for the benefit of cancer patients. (C) 2014 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a member of the ErbB family that can promote the migration and proliferation of breast cancer cells. Therapies that target EGFR can promote the dimerization of EGFR with other ErbB receptors, which is associated with the development of drug resistance. Understanding how interactions among ErbB receptors alter EGFR biology could provide avenues for improving cancer therapy. We found that EGFR interacted directly with the CYT1 and CYT2 variants of ErbB4 and the membrane-anchored intracellular domain (mICD). The CYT2 variant, but not the CYT1 variant, protected EGFR from ligand-induced degradation by competing with EGFR for binding to a complex containing the E3 ubiquitin ligase c-Cbl and the adaptor Grb2. Cultured breast cancer cells overexpressing both EGFR and ErbB4 CYT2 mICD exhibited increased migration. With molecular modeling, we identified residues involved in stabilizing the EGFR dimer. Mutation of these residues in the dimer interface destabilized the complex in cells and abrogated growth factor-stimulated cell migration. An exon array analysis of 155 breast tumors revealed that the relative mRNA abundance of the ErbB4 CYT2 variant was increased in ER+ HER2(-) breast cancer patients, suggesting that our findings could be clinically relevant. We propose a mechanism whereby competition for binding to c-Cbl in an ErbB signaling heterodimer promotes migration in response to a growth factor gradient.
Tumor progression can be understood as a collaborative effort of mutations and growth factors, which propels cell proliferation and matrix invasion, and also enables evasion of drug-induced apoptosis. Concentrating on EGFR, we discuss downstream signaling and the initiation of transcriptional events in response to growth factors. Specifically, we portray a wave-like program, which initiates by rapid disappearance of two-dozen microRNAs, followed by an abrupt rise of immediate early genes (IEGs), relatively short transcripts encoding transcriptional regulators. Concurrent with the fall of IEGs, some 30-60 min after stimulation, a larger group, the delayed early genes, is up-regulated and its own fall overlaps the rise of the final wave of late response genes. This late wave persists and determines long-term phenotype acquisition, such as invasiveness. Key regulatory steps in the orderly response to growth factors provide a trove of potential oncogenes and tumor suppressors. (C) 2014 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Insights into tumour biology of breast cancer have led the path towards the introduction of targeted treatment approaches; still, breast cancer-related mortality remains relatively high. Efforts in the field of basic research revealed new druggable targets which now await validation within the context of clinical trials. Therefore, questions concerning the optimal design of future studies are becoming even more pertinent. Aspects such as the ideal end point, availability of predictive markers to identify the optimal cohort for drug testing, or potential mechanisms of resistance need to be resolved. An expert panel representing the academic community, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as European Regulatory Authorities met in Vienna, Austria, in November 2012, in order to discuss breast cancer biology, identification of novel biological targets and optimal drug development with the aim of treatment individualization. This article summarizes statements and perspectives provided by the meeting participants.
Epigen is the latest addition to the mammalian family of EGFR ligands. Epigen was initially identified as a novel expressed sequence tag with homology to the EGF family by high throughput sequencing of a mouse keratinocyte complementary DNA library, and received its name for its ability to act as an epithelial mitogen. In vitro studies attributed to epigen several unique features, such as persistent and potent biological actions involving low affinity receptor binding, as well as sub-maximal receptor activation and inactivation. Similarly to the other EGFR ligands, the expression of epigen is up-regulated by hormones and in certain cancer types. While the biological functions of epigen remain to be uncovered, it appears to play a role in epidermal structures, such as the mammary gland and the sebaceous gland. The latter organ, in particular, was greatly enlarged in transgenic mice overexpressing epigen. Interestingly, mice lacking epigen develop and grow normally, probably due to functional compensation by other EGFR ligands. Future studies are likely to reveal the biological roles of the unique receptor binding properties of epigen, as well as its potential harnessing during disease. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) undergoes a conformational change in response to ligand binding. The ligand-induced changes in cell surface aggregation and mobility have a profound effect on the function of all the family members. Ligand also activates the EGFR intracellular kinase, stimulating proliferation and cell survival. The EGFR family are often activated, overexpressed or mutated in cancer cells and therapeutic drugs (including antibodies) can slow the progress of some cancers. This article provides a brief, annotated summary of the presentations and discussion which occurred at the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor - Future Directions Conference held in Jerusalem in November 2013.
Signal-induced transcript isoform variation (TIV) includes alternative promoter usage as well as alternative splicing and alternative polyadenylation of mRNA. To assess the phenotypic relevance of signal-induced TIV, we employed exon arrays and breast epithelial cells, which migrate in response to the epidermal growth factor (EGF). We show that EGF rapidly - within one hour - induces widespread TIV in a significant fraction of the transcriptome. Importantly, TIV characterizes many genes that display no differential expression upon stimulus. In addition, similar EGF-dependent changes are shared by a panel of mammary cell lines. A functional screen, which utilized isoform-specific siRNA oligonucleotides, indicated that several isoforms play essential, non-redundant roles in EGF-induced mammary cell migration. Taken together, our findings highlight the importance of TIV in the rapid evolvement of a phenotypic response to extracellular signals.
Endocytosis entails selective packaging of cell-surface proteins, such as receptors for cytokines and adhesion components, in cytoplasmic vesicles (endosomes). The series of sorting events that determines the fate of internalized proteins, either degradation in lysosomes or recycling back to the plasma membrane, relies on intrinsic sequence motifs, posttranslational modifications (e. g., phosphorylation and ubiquitination), and transient assemblies of both Rab GTPases and phosphoinositide-binding proteins. This multicomponent process is enhanced and skewed in cancer cells; we review mechanisms enabling both major drivers of cancer, p53 and Ras, to bias recycling of integrins and receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Likewise, cadherins and other junctional proteins of cancer cells are constantly removed from the cell surface, thereby disrupting tissue polarity and instigating motile phenotypes. Mutant forms of RTKs able to evade Cbl-mediated ubiquitination, along with overexpression of the wild-type forms and a variety of defective feedback regulatory loops, are frequently detected in tumors. Finally, we describe pharmacological attempts to harness the peculiar endocytic system of cancer, in favor of effective patient treatment.
Hypoxia has been long-time acknowledged as major cancer-promoting microenvironment. In such an energy-restrictive condition, post-transcriptional mechanisms gain importance over the energy-expensive gene transcription machinery. Here we show that the onset of hypoxia-induced cancer stem cell features requires the beta-catenin-dependent post-transcriptional up-regulation of CA9 and SNAI2 gene expression. In response to hypoxia, beta-catenin moves from the plasma membrane to the cytoplasm where it binds and stabilizes SNAI2 and CA9 mRNAs, in cooperation with the mRNA stabilizing protein HuR. We also provide evidence that the post-transcriptional activity of cytoplasmic beta-catenin operates under normoxia in basal-like/triple-negative breast cancer cells, where the beta-catenin knockdown suppresses the stem cell phenotype in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. In such cells, we unravel the generalized involvement of the beta-catenin-driven machinery in the stabilization of EGF-induced mRNAs, including the cancer stem cell regulator IL6. Our study highlights the crucial role of post-transcriptional mechanisms in the maintenance/acquisition of cancer stem cell features and suggests that the hindrance of cytoplasmic beta-catenin function may represent an unprecedented strategy for targeting breast cancer stem/basal-like cells.
Due to intrinsic aggressiveness and lack of effective therapies, prognosis of pancreatic cancer remains dismal. Because the only molecular targeted drug approved for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is a kinase inhibitor specific to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and this receptor collaborates with another kinase, called HER2 (human EGF-receptor 2), we assumed that agents targeting EGFR and/or HER2 would effectively retard pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Accordingly, two immunological strategies were tested in animal models: (i) two antibodies able to engage distinct epitopes of either EGFR or HER2 were separately combined, and (ii) pairs of one antibody to EGFR and another to HER2. Unlike the respective single monoclonal antibodies, which induced weak effects, both types of antibody combinations synergized in animals in terms of tumor inhibition. Immunological cooperation may not depend on receptor density, antigenic sites, or the presence of a mutant RAS protein. Nevertheless, both types of antibody combinations enhanced receptor degradation. Future efforts will examine the feasibility of each strategy and the potential of combining them to achieve sustained tumor inhibition.
Contemporary microRNA research has led to significant advances in our understanding of the process of tumorigenesis. MicroRNAs participate in different events of a cancer cell's life, through their ability to target hundreds of putative transcripts involved in almost every cellular function, including cell cycle, apoptosis, and differentiation. The relevance of these small molecules is even more evident in light of the emerging linkage between their expression and both prognosis and clinical outcome of many types of human cancers. This identifies microRNAs as potential therapeutic modifiers of cancer phenotypes. From this perspective, we overview here the miR-10b locus and its involvement in cancer, focusing on its role in the establishment (miR-10b*) and spreading (miR-10b) of breast cancer. We conclude that targeting the locus of microRNA 10b holds great potential for cancer treatment.
The last decade has witnessed significant progress in cancer understanding and therapy: we can now identify the genetic drivers of individual tumours, and tailor drugs able to specifically intercept the driver mutations. While all agree that personalised cancer medicine is a clear outcome of the resources dedicated to cancer research over the last 50 years, some critics question the necessity for continuous investments in sub-fields other than clinical research and drug development. Herein, scientists from the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) argue that the new ways to diagnose and treat cancer present important and hitherto unaddressed challenges for fundamental research of cancer. Allocating the resources needed for basic studies will likely fuel the next wave of achievements in the long way to conquer cancer. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Aptamers, oligonucleotides able to avidly bind cellular targets, are emerging as promising therapeutic agents, analogous to monoclonal antibodies. We selected from a DNA library an aptamer specifically recognizing human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (ErbB-2/HER2), a receptor tyrosine kinase, which is overexpressed in a variety of human cancers, including breast and gastric tumors. Treatment of human gastric cancer cells with a trimeric version (42 nucleotides) of the selected aptamer (14 nucleotides) resulted in reduced cell growth in vitro, but a monomeric version was ineffective. Likewise, when treated with the trimeric aptamer, animals bearing tumor xenografts of human gastric origin reflected reduced rates of tumor growth. The antitumor effect of the aptamer was nearly twofold stronger than that of a monoclonal anti-ErbB-2/HER2 antibody. Consistent with aptamer-induced intracellular degradation of ErbB-2/HER2, incubation of gastric cancer cells with the trimeric aptamer promoted translocation of ErbB-2/HER2 from the cell surface to cytoplasmic puncta. This translocation was associated with a lysosomal hydrolase-dependent clearance of the ErbB-2/HER2 protein from cell extracts. We conclude that targeting ErbB-2/HER2 with DNA aptamers might retard the tumorigenic growth of gastric cancer by means of accelerating lysosomal degradation of the oncoprotein. This work exemplifies the potential pharmacological utility of aptamers directed at cell surface proteins, and it highlights an endocytosis-mediated mechanism of tumor inhibition.
Collective migration is an important cellular trait, which is intensely studied by both basic and translational researchers. Investigation of the underlying mechanisms necessitates high-throughput assays and computational algorithms capable of generating reproducible quantitative measurements of cell migration. We present a desktop tool that can be used easily by any researcher, to quantify both fluorescent and phase-contrast images produced in the course of commonly used gap closure ("scratch," "wound healing") collective migration assays. The software has a simple graphical interface that allows the user to tune the relevant parameters and process large numbers of images (or movies). The output contains segmented images and the numerical values inferred from them, allowing easy quantitative analysis of the results.
Background. ErbB oncogenes have a major role in cancer. The role of ErbB-4 in cancer cell biology and the effect of anti-ErbB-1 and anti-ErbB-4 monoclonal antibodies were evaluated in this study. Methods. ErbB-4 expression and binding was evaluated by Western blot, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), fluorescent microscopy, and flow cytometry. Cell survival was measured by XTT assay. Tumor progression was followed up in nude mice model. Results. High ErbB-1 levels in head and neck cancer cell lines were determined, whereas ErbB-4 expression varied. Specific antibody binding to the cells was demonstrated. High ErbB-4 expressing squamous cell carcinoma 1 (SCC-1) cells proliferated faster and generated faster growing tumors in mice. Cetuximab and mAb-3 reduced cell survival proportional to ErbB-1 and ErbB-4 expression. Combination of antibodies with irradiation was most effective in reducing cell survival and tumor growth. Conclusion. ErbB-4 plays a role in head and neck cancer cell biology. Anti-ErbB-4 targeted therapy can serve as a new strategy against head and neck cancer when combined with established treatments. (C) 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 35: 399-407, 2013
Breast tumors lacking expression of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) and the estrogen and the progesterone receptors (triple negative; TNBC) are more aggressive than other disease subtypes, and no molecular targeted agents are currently available for their treatment. Because TNBC commonly displays EGF receptor (EGFR) expression, and combinations of monoclonal antibodies to EGFR effectively inhibit other tumor models, we addressed the relevance of this strategy to treatment of TNBC. Unlike a combination of the clinically approved monoclonal antibodies, cetuximab and panitumumab, which displaced each other and displayed no cooperative effects, several other combinations resulted in enhanced inhibition of TNBC's cell growth both in vitro and in animals. The ability of certain antibody mixtures to remove EGFR from the cell surface and to promote its intracellular degradation correlated with the inhibitory potential. However, unlike EGF-induced sorting of EGFR to lysosomal degradation, the antibody-induced pathway displayed independence from the intrinsic kinase activity and dimer formation ability of EGFR, and it largely avoided the recycling route. In conclusion, although TNBC clinical trials testing EGFR inhibitors reported lack of benefit, our results offer an alternative strategy that combines noncompetitive antibodies to achieve robust degradation of EGFR and tumor inhibition.
Unlike the well-characterized checkpoints of the cell cycle, which establish commitment to cell division, signaling pathways and gene expression programs that commit cells to migration are incompletely understood. Apparently, several molecular switches are activated in response to an extracellular cue, such as the epidermal growth factor (EGF), and they simultaneously confer distinct features of an integrated motile phenotype. Here we review such early (transcription-independent) and late switches, in light of a novel ERK-ERF-EGR1 switch we recently reported in the FASEB Journal. The study employed human mammary cells and two stimuli: EGF, which induced mammary cell migration, and serum factors, which stimulated cell growth. By contrasting the underlying pathways we unveiled a cascade that allows the active form of the ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade to export the ERF repressor from the nucleus, thereby permitting tightly balanced stimulation of an EGR1-centered gene expression program.
MicroRNAs (miRs) function primarily as post-transcriptional negative regulators of gene expression through binding to their mRNA targets. Reliable prediction of a miR's targets is a considerable bioinformatic challenge of great importance for inferring the miR's function. Sequence-based prediction algorithms have high false-positive rates, are not in agreement, and are not biological context specific. Here we introduce CoSMic (Context-Specific MicroRNA analysis), an algorithm that combines sequence-based prediction with miR and mRNA expression data. CoSMic differs from existing methods-it identifies miRs that play active roles in the specific biological system of interest and predicts with less false positives their functional targets. We applied CoSMic to search for miRs that regulate the migratory response of human mammary cells to epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation. Several such miRs, whose putative targets were significantly enriched by migration processes were identified. We tested three of these miRs experimentally, and showed that they indeed affected the migratory phenotype; we also tested three negative controls. In comparison to other algorithms CoSMic indeed filters out false positives and allows improved identification of context-specific targets. CoSMic can greatly facilitate miR research in general and, in particular, advance our understanding of individual miRs' function in a specific context.
Deregulated proliferation is a hallmark of cancer cells. Here, we show that microRNA-10b* is a master regulator of breast cancer cell proliferation and is downregulated in tumoural samples versus matched peritumoural counterparts. Two canonical CpG islands (5?kb) upstream from the precursor sequence are hypermethylated in the analysed breast cancer tissues. Ectopic delivery of synthetic microRNA-10b* in breast cancer cell lines or into xenograft mouse breast tumours inhibits cell proliferation and impairs tumour growth in vivo, respectively. We identified and validated in vitro and in vivo three novel target mRNAs of miR-10b* (BUB1, PLK1 and CCNA2), which play a remarkable role in cell cycle regulation and whose high expression in breast cancer patients is associated with reduced disease-free survival, relapse-free survival and metastasis-free survival when compared to patients with low expression. This also suggests that restoration of microRNA-10b* expression might have therapeutic promise.
Once stimulated, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) undergoes self-phosphorylation, which, on the one hand, instigates signaling cascades, and on the other hand, recruits CBL ubiquitin ligases, which mark EGFRs for degradation. Using RNA interference screens, we identified a deubiquitinating enzyme, Cezanne-1, that opposes receptor degradation and enhances EGFR signaling. These functions require the catalytic-and ubiquitin-binding domains of Cezanne-1, and they involve physical interactions and transphosphorylation of Cezanne-1 by EGFR. In line with the ability of Cezanne-1 to augment EGF-induced growth and migration signals, the enzyme is overexpressed in breast cancer. Congruently, the corresponding gene is amplified in approximately one third of mammary tumors, and high transcript levels predict an aggressive disease course. In conclusion, deubiquitination by Cezanne-1 curtails degradation of growth factor receptors, thereby promotes oncogenic growth signals.
Although it is broadly agreed that the improved treatment of patients with cancer will depend on a deeper molecular understanding of the underlying pathogenesis, only a few examples are already available. This Timeline article focuses on the ERBB (also known as HER) network of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), which exemplifies how a constant dialogue between basic research and medical oncology can translate into both a sustained pipeline of novel drugs and ways to overcome acquired treatment resistance in patients. We track the key early discoveries that linked this RTK family to oncogenesis, the course of pioneering clinical research and their merger into a systems-biology framework that is likely to inspire further generations of effective therapeutic strategies.
The HER2/neu oncogene encodes a receptor-like tyrosine kinase whose overexpression in breast cancer predicts poor prognosis and resistance to conventional therapies. However, the mechanisms underlying aggressiveness of HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2)-overexpressing tumors remain incompletely understood. Because it assists epidermal growth factor (EGF) and neuregulin receptors, we overexpressed HER2 in MCF10A mammary cells and applied growth factors. HER2-overexpressing cells grown in extracellular matrix formed filled spheroids, which protruded outgrowths upon growth factor stimulation. Our transcriptome analyses imply a two-hit model for invasive growth: HER2-induced proliferation and evasion from anoikis generate filled structures, which are morphologically and transcriptionally analogous to preinvasive patients' lesions. In the second hit, EGF escalates signaling and transcriptional responses leading to invasive growth. Consistent with clinical relevance, a gene expression signature based on the HER2/EGF-activated transcriptional program can predict poorer prognosis of a subgroup of HER2-overexpressing patients. In conclusion, the integration of a three-dimensional cellular model and clinical data attributes progression of HER2-overexpressing lesions to EGF-like growth factors acting in the context of the tumor's microenvironment. Oncogene (2012) 31, 3569-3583; doi:10.1038/onc.2011.547; published online 5 December 2011
Epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like growth factors control tumor progression as well as evasion from the toxic effects of chemotherapy. Accordingly, antibodies targeting the cognate receptors, such as EGFR/ErbB-1 and the co-receptor HER2/ErbB-2, are widely used to treat cancer patients, but agents that target the EGF-like growth factors are not available. To circumvent the existence of 11 distinct ErbB ligands, we constructed a soluble fusion protein (hereinafter: TRAP-Fc) comprising truncated extracellular domains of EGFR/ErbB-1 and ErbB-4. The recombinant TRAP-Fc retained high-affinity ligand binding to EGF-like growth factors and partially inhibited growth of a variety of cultured tumor cells. Consistently, TRAP-Fc displayed an inhibitory effect in xenograft models of human cancer, as well as synergy with chemotherapy. Additionally, TRAP-Fc inhibited invasive growth of mammary tumor cells and reduced their metastatic seeding in the lungs of animals. Taken together, the activities displayed by TRAP-Fc reinforce critical roles of EGF-like growth factors in tumor progression, and they warrant further tests of TRAP-Fc in preclinical models. Oncogene (2012) 31, 3505-3515; doi:10.1038/onc.2011.518; published online 21 November 2011
The signaling pathways that commit cells to migration are incompletely understood. We employed human mammary cells and two stimuli: epidermal growth factor (EGF), which induced cellular migration, and serum factors, which stimulated cell growth. In addition to strong activation of ERK by EGF, and AKT by serum, early transcription remarkably differed: while EGF induced early growth response-1 (EGR1), and this was required for migration, serum induced c-Fos and FosB to enhance proliferation. We demonstrate that induction of EGR1 involves ERK-mediated down-regulation of microRNA-191 and phosphorylation of the ETS2 repressor factor (ERF) repressor, which subsequently leaves the nucleus. Unexpectedly, knockdown of ERF inhibited migration, which implies migratory roles for exported ERF molecules. On the other hand, chromatin immunoprecipitation identified a subset of direct EGR1 targets, including EGR1 autostimulation and SERPINB2, whose transcription is essential for EGF-induced cell migration. In summary, EGR1 and the EGF-ERK-ERF axis emerge from our study as major drivers of growth factor-induced mammary cell migration.-Tarcic, G., Avraham, R., Pines, G., Amit, I., Shay, T., Lu, Y., Zwang, Y., Katz, M., Ben-Chetrit, N., Jacob-Hirsch, J., Virgilio, L., Rechavi, G., Mavrothalassitis, G., Mills, G. B., Domany, E., Yarden, Y. EGR1 and the ERK-ERF axis drive mammary cell migration in response to EGF. FASEB J. 26, 1582-1592 (2012). www.fasebj.org
Signaling networks are involved in development, as well as in malignancy of the mammary gland. Distinct external stimuli activate intricate signaling cascades, which culminate in the activation of specific transcriptional programs. These signal-specific transcriptional programs are instigated by transcription factors (TFs) encoded by the immediate early genes (IEGs), and they lead to diverse cellular outcomes, including oncogenesis. Hence, regulating the expression of IEGs is of great importance, and involves several complementary transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms, the latter entails also microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs are a class of non-coding RNAs, which have been implicated in regulation of various aspects of signaling networks. Through examination of the basic characteristics of miRNA function, we highlight the benefits of using miRNAs as regulators of early TFs and signaling networks. We further focus on the role of miRNAs as regulators of IEGs, which shape the initial steps of signaling-induced transcription. We especially emphasize the role of miRNAs in buffering external noise and maintaining low basal activation of IEGs in the absence of proper stimuli.
Mammalian cells are constantly exposed to multiple mitogens and, hence, have developed machineries that help them ignore fortuitous signals. In a recent report in Molecular Cell, we highlighted the molecular details of such a noise-reduction filter, including roles for EGR1, AKT, and p53. Brief exposure to a mitogen drives formation of inhibitory p53-chromatin complexes, which are disabled only if the growth factor is still present several hours later. We propose that this "consistency test" prevents repeated division cycles of normal cells but might become defective in most cancer cells. Cancer Res; 72(5); 1051-4. (C) 2012 AACR.
A large fraction of ductal carcinoma in situ ( DCIS), a non-invasive precursor lesion of invasive breast cancer, overexpresses the HER2/neu oncogene. The ducts of DCIS are abnormally filled with cells that evade apoptosis, but the underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood. We overexpressed HER2 in mammary epithelial cells and observed growth factor-independent proliferation. When grown in extracellular matrix as three-dimensional spheroids, control cells developed a hollow lumen, but HER2-overexpressing cells populated the lumen by evading apoptosis. We demonstrate that HER2 overexpression in this cellular model of DCIS drives transcriptional upregulation of multiple components of the Notch survival pathway. Importantly, luminal filling required upregulation of a signaling pathway comprising Notch3, its cleaved intracellular domain and the transcriptional regulator HES1, resulting in elevated levels of c-MYC and cyclin D1. In line with HER2-Notch3 collaboration, drugs intercepting either arm reverted the DCIS-like phenotype. In addition, we report upregulation of Notch3 in hyperplastic lesions of HER2 transgenic animals, as well as an association between HER2 levels and expression levels of components of the Notch pathway in tumor specimens of breast cancer patients. Therefore, it is conceivable that the integration of the Notch and HER2 signaling pathways contributes to the pathophysiology of DCIS. Oncogene ( 2012) 31, 907-917; doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.279; published online 11 July 2011
Stringent regulation of biochemical signalling pathways involves feedback and feedforward loops, which underlie robust cellular responses to external stimuli. Regulation occurs in all horizontal layers of signalling networks, primarily by proteins that mediate internalization of receptor-ligand complexes, dephosphorylation of kinases and their substrates, as well as transcriptional repression. Recent studies have unveiled the role of miRNAs (microRNAs), post-transcriptional regulators that control mRNA stability, as key modulators of signal propagation. By acting as genetic switches or fine-tuners, miRNAs can directly and multiply regulate cellular outcomes in response to diverse extracellular signals. Conversely, signalling networks temporally control stability, biogenesis and abundance of miRNAs, by regulating layers of the miRNA biogenesis pathway. In the present mini-review, we use a set of examples to illustrate the extensive interdependence between miRNAs and signalling networks.
The estrogen receptor (ER) pathway and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway play pivotal roles in breast cancer progression. Targeted therapies able to intercept ER or signaling downstream to EGFR and its kin, HER2, are routinely used to treat distinct groups of breast cancer patients. However, patient responses are limited by resistance to endocrine therapy, which may be due to compensatory HER2/EGFR signaling. This raises the possibility that simultaneous interception of HER2 and ER may enhance therapeutic efficacy. To address the question, we treated breast cancer cells with both fulvestrant (ICI 182780), an ER antagonist with no agonist effects, and lapatinib, an orally available tyrosine kinase inhibitor specific to EGFR and HER2. Our results indicate that the combination of drugs is especially effective when applied to HER2-overexpressing, ER-positive cancer cells. Interestingly, fulvestrant activated the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway of these cells, but complete inhibition of MAPK signaling was observed on cotreatment with lapatinib. Taken together, our observations reinforce the possibility that the effectiveness of combining anti-ER and anti-HER2/EGFR drugs may be especially effective on a relatively small subtype of HER2-overexpressing, ER-positive tumors of the breast.
Transcriptional responses to extracellular stimuli involve tuning the rates of transcript production and degradation. Here, we show that the time-dependent profiles of these rates can be inferred from simultaneous measurements of precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA) and mature mRNA profiles. Transcriptome-wide measurements demonstrate that genes with similar mRNA profiles often exhibit marked differences in the amplitude and onset of their production rate. The latter is characterized by a large dynamic range, with a group of genes exhibiting an unexpectedly strong transient production overshoot, thereby accelerating their induction and, when combined with time-dependent degradation, shaping transient responses with precise timing and amplitude. Molecular Systems Biology 7: 529; published online 13 September 2011; doi:10.1038/msb.2011.62
The erbb-2 gene receptor is often over-expressed in human cancer and its overexpression is accompanied by worse prognosis. Targeting erbb-2 gene with antibodies is an effective approach to curtail the progression of erbb-2 gene-expressing cancer types. Two monoclonal antibodies, L-26 and N-12, previously generated in our laboratory, have shown effective tumor inhibition in mice, especially when used in combination. Here, we describe novel peptide mimics of erbb-2 gene protein epitopes, also called mimotopes, that were selected from a constraint random 12-mer peptide phage library, specific for the antibodies L-26 and N-12. Initial sequencing analyses revealed little sequence conservation among the peptide mimotopes, and no sequence homology with the erbb-2 gene protein. However, computational analyses of the two groups of peptides, specific for L-26 and N-12, suggested different epitopes on the erbb-2 gene extracellular domain. In vitro assays showed that the phage displayed peptide mimotopes were specific to their respective antibodies. Selected cyclic peptide mimotopes, but not their corresponding linear equivalents, were able to inhibit binding of the antibodies L-26 and N-12 to the surface of erbb-2 gene-expressing cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner. In line with this observation, phage-displayed cyclic peptides successfully competed in vitro with recombinant erbb-2 gene protein for binding to their respective antibodies L-26 or N-12. Consistent with the antibody inhibition experiments, we detected specific anti-erbb-2 gene antibodies following vaccination with KLH-coupled cyclic peptides but not with multiple antigenic linear peptides. Potentially, the selected peptides could serve as a starting point for the development of a vaccine against erbb-2 gene over-expressing cancer.
Normal cells require continuous exposure to growth factors in order to cross a restriction point and commit to cell-cycle progression. This can be replaced by two short, appropriately spaced pulses of growth factors, where the first pulse primes a process, which is completed by the second pulse, and enables restriction point crossing. Through integration of comprehensive proteomic and transcriptomic analyses of each pulse, we identified three processes that regulate restriction point crossing: (1) The first pulse induces essential metabolic enzymes and activates p53-dependent restraining processes. (2) The second pulse eliminates, via the PI3K/AKT pathway, the suppressive action of p53, as well as (3) sets an ERK-EGR1 threshold mechanism, which digitizes graded external signals into an all-or-none decision obligatory for S phase entry. Together, our findings uncover two gating mechanisms, which ensure that cells ignore fortuitous growth factors and undergo proliferation only in response to consistent mitogenic signals.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to HER2 are currently used to treat breast cancer, but low clinical efficacy, along with primary and acquired resistance to therapy, commonly limit clinical applications. We previously reported that combinations of antibodies directed at non-overlapping epitopes of HER2 are endowed with enhanced antitumor effects, probably due to accelerated receptor degradation. Here, we extend these observations to three-dimensional mammary cell models, and compare the effects of single mAbs with the effects of antibody combinations. Collectively, our in vitro assays and computational image analyses indicate that combining mAbs against different epitopes of HER2 better inhibits invasive growth. Importantly, while growth factors are able to reduce intraluminal apoptosis and induce an invasive phenotype, combinations of mAbs better than single mAbs can reverse the growth factor-induced phenotypes of HER2-overexpressing spheroids. In conclusion, our studies propose that mAb combinations negate the biological effects of growth factors on invasive growth of HER2-overexpressing cells. Hence, combining mAbs offers a therapeutic strategy, potentially able to enhance clinical efficacy of existing antireceptor immunotherapeutics. Oncogene (2011) 30, 1631-1642; doi:10.1038/onc.2010.547; published online 6 December 2010
Human-made information relay systems invariably incorporate central regulatory components, which are mirrored in biological systems by dense feedback and feedforward loops. This type of system control is exemplified by positive and negative feedback loops (for example, receptor endocytosis and dephosphorylation) that enable growth factors and receptor Tyr kinases of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/ERBB family to regulate cellular function. Recent studies show that the collection of feedback regulatory loops can perform computational tasks-such as decoding ligand specificity, transforming graded input signals into a digital output and regulating response kinetics. Aberrant signal processing and feedback regulation can lead to defects associated with pathologies such as cancer.
The understanding of cellular signaling pathways in malignant tumors is an important aspect of cancer research and modern targeted therapy strategies. Growth factors and their receptors in particular are critical to modern cancer therapy research, because these factors control all phases of tumor development and metastasis. Most importantly, growth factors are responsible for cell survival under cytotoxic drugs and radiotherapy. These growth factor signaling pathways are composed of complex networks that have adapted to efficiently respond to certain disturbances, such as a single agent that targets one aspect of the pathway. Meanwhile, multiple insults to the pathway, such as combination therapy regimens, are known to be effective in shutting down these pathways and, consequently, killing the tumor cell. Research is currently under way to find new ways to exploit fragile aspects of oncogenic networks, such as uncommon, multiple perturbations that target essential hubs through immunotherapy, combinations of antibodies, heat shock protein inhibitors, or novel drug combinations. Complex growth factor signaling networks and novel methods to shut down these networks are described within a framework of engineering and mathematical concepts. The Oncologist 2011; 16(suppl 1): 23-29
Despite extensive diagnostic and therapeutic efforts, breast cancer remains the second leading cause of female cancer mortality in affluent countries. Because receptor tyrosine kinases of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor [EGFR, also ErbB] family are potent gatekeepers of cell fate decisions, their aberrations rank among the most frequent oncogenic insults in breast cancers. Although monoclonal antibodies and kinase inhibitors that intercept ErbB signalling can effectively inhibit progression of mammary tumours, their efficacy remains confined to a specific subset of patients. This review highlights not only the oncogenic derangements of the ErbB network in breast cancer including growth factor or receptor over-expression, but also additional loss or gain of multiple negative and positive network regulators, which override physiological mechanisms of systems control embedded in the ErbB network. We further envisage strategies to specifically target tumours at their unique network hubs, to circumvent resistance to ErbB-targeting agents and focus on network fragility exposed by oncogenic perturbations or, conversely, by targeted therapies.
Ligand-induced dimerization of the epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB-1/EGFR) involves conformational changes that expose an extracellular dimerization interface. Subsequent alterations within the cytoplasmic kinase domain, which culminate in tyrosine phosphorylation, are less understood. Our study addressed this question by using two strategies: a chimeric receptor approach employed ErbB-3, whose defective kinase domain was replaced by the respective part of EGFR. The implanted full-length kinase, unlike its subdomains, conferred dimerization and catalysis. The data infer that the kinase function of EGFR is restrained by the carboxyl tail; once grafted distally to the ectopic tail of ErbB-3, the kinase domain acquires quasi-dimerization and activation. In an attempt to alternatively refold the cytoplasmic tail, our other approach employed kinase inhibitors. Biophysical measurements and covalent cross-linking analyses showed that inhibitors targeting the active conformation of EGFR, in contrast to a compound recognizing the inactive conformation, induce quasi-dimers in a manner similar to the chimeric ErbB-3 molecule. Collectively, these observations unveil kinase domain-mediated quasi-dimers, which are regulated by an autoinhibitory carboxyl tail. On the basis of these observations, we propose that quasi-dimers precede formation of ligand-induced, fully active dimers, which are stabilized by both extracellular and intracellular receptor-receptor interactions.-Bublil, E. M., Pines, G., Patel, G., Fruhwirth, G., Ng, T., Yosef Yarden. Kinase-mediated quasi-dimers of EGFR. FASEB J. 24, 4744-4755 (2010). www.fasebj.org
The understanding of cellular signaling pathways in malignant tumors is an important aspect of cancer research and modern targeted therapy strategies. Growth factors and their receptors in particular are critical to modern cancer therapy research, because these factors control all phases of tumor development and metastasis. Most importantly, growth factors are responsible for cell survival under cytotoxic drugs and radiotherapy. These growth factor signaling pathways are composed of complex networks that have adapted to efficiently respond to certain disturbances, such as a single agent that targets one aspect of the pathway. Meanwhile, multiple insults to the pathway, such as combination therapy regimens, are known to be effective in shutting down these pathways and, consequently, killing the tumor cell. Research is currently under way to find new ways to exploit fragile aspects of oncogenic networks, such as uncommon, multiple perturbations that target essential hubs through immunotherapy, combinations of antibodies, heat shock protein inhibitors, or novel drug combinations. Complex growth factor signaling networks and novel methods to shut down these networks are described within a framework of engineering and mathematical concepts. The Oncologist 2010; 15(suppl 5): 1-7
Tumor cells often subvert normal regulatory mechanisms of signal transduction. This study shows this principle by studying yet uncharacterized mutants of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) previously identified in glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most aggressive brain tumor in adults. Unlike the well-characterized EGFRvIII mutant form, which lacks a portion of the ligand-binding cleft within the extracellular domain, EGFRvIVa and EGFRvIVb lack internal segments distal to the intracellular tyrosine kinase domain. By constructing the mutants and by ectopic expression in naive cells, we show that both mutants confer an oncogenic potential in vitro, as well as tumorigenic growth in animals. The underlying mechanisms entail constitutive receptor dimerization and basal activation of the kinase domain, likely through a mechanism that relieves a restraining molecular fold, along with stabilization due to association with HSP90. Phospho-proteomic analyses delineated the signaling pathways preferentially engaged by EGFRvIVb-identified unique substrates. This information, along with remarkable sensitivities to tyrosine kinase blockers and to a chaperone inhibitor, proposes strategies for pharmacological interception in brain tumors harboring EGFRvIV mutations. Oncogene (2010) 29, 5850-5860; doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.313; published online 2 August 2010
Due to its common dysregulation in epithelial-based cancers and extensive characterization of its role in tumor growth, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a highly validated target for anticancer therapies. There has been particular interest in the development of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting EGFR, resulting in two approved mAb-based drugs and several others in clinical trials. It has recently been reported that treatment with combinations of noncompetitive mAbs can induce receptor clustering, leading to synergistic receptor down-regulation. We elucidate three key aspects of this phenomenon. First, we show that highly potent combinations consisting of two noncompetitive mAbs that target EGFR domain 3 reduce surface receptor levels by up to 80% with a halftime of 0.5-5 h in both normal and transformed human cell lines to an extent inversely proportional to receptor density. Second, we find the mechanism underlying down-regulation to be consistent with recycling inhibition. Third, in contrast to the agonism associated with ligand-induced down-regulation, we demonstrate that mAb-induced down-regulation does not activate EGFR or its downstream effectors and it leads to synergistic reduction in migration and proliferation of cells that secrete autocrine ligand. These new insights will aid in ongoing rational design of EGFR-targeted antibody therapeutics.
A myriad of cellular processes instigated by growth factors are mediated by cell surface-associated receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Subsequent downstream activation of signaling cascades, as well as their crosstalk, endows specificity in terms of the phenotypic outcome, e.g., cellular proliferation, migration, or differentiation. Such signaling diversity is exemplified by the ability of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) to stimulate different MAPK cascades, especially the ERK1/2 cascade. It has been shown that the ability of the ERK1/2 cascade to specify cell fate, such as cell migration, is dependent on signal duration governed by feedback control. Here we focus on one experimental system, MCF10A human mammary cells, and a phenotypic outcome of cell migration. We present methods to identify key components of underlying cascades and their effects on the migratory phenotype. We focus on profiling activation of signaling modules, as well as transcriptional regulation, emphasizing the high-throughput potential of such approaches.
Growth factors are implicated in several processes essential for cancer progression. Specifically, growth factors that bind to ErbB family receptors have been implicated in cell proliferation and in resistance of solid tumors to chemotherapy. We quantified ligand secretion by several human cancer cell lines, and generated mAbs against two ligands, namely TGF-alpha and heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor. These growth factors are frequently secreted by pancreatic tumor cell lines, including BxPC3 cells. The monoclonal antibodies were tested for their antigen specificity and ability to inhibit growth of BxPC3 cells in vitro. Combining the two antibodies resulted in enhanced inhibition of BxPC3 cell growth, both in vitro and in tumor-bearing animals. Hence, we combined the two antibodies with gemcitabine, an effective chemotherapeutic drug commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer patients. Because treatment with a combination of two monoclonal antibodies enhanced the ability of chemotherapy to inhibit BxPC3 tumors in mice, we propose a general cancer therapeutic strategy that entails profiling the repertoire of growth factors secreted by a tumor, and combining with chemotherapy several antibodies capable of blocking autocrine ligands.
The EGF-receptor is frequently mutated in a large variety of tumors. Here we review the most frequent mutations and conclude that they commonly enhance the intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity, or they represent loss-of-function of suppressive regulatory domains. Interestingly, the constitutive activity of mutant receptors translates to downstream pathways, which are subtly different from those stimulated by the wild-type receptor. Cancer drugs intercepting EGFR signaling have already entered clinical application. Both kinase inhibitors specific to EGFR, and monoclonal antibodies to the receptor are described, along with experimental approaches targeting the HSP90 chaperone. Deeper understanding of signaling pathways downstream to mutant receptors will likely improve the outcome of current EGFR-targeted therapies, as well as help develop new drugs and combinations. (C) 2010 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Under physiological conditions, cells receive fate-determining signals from their tissue surroundings, primarily in the form of polypeptide growth factors. Integration of these extracellular signals underlies tissue homeostasis. Although departure from homeostasis and tumor initiation are instigated by oncogenic mutations rather than by growth factors, the latter are the major regulators of all subsequent steps of tumor progression, namely clonal expansion, invasion across tissue barriers, angiogenesis, and colonization of distant niches. Here, we discuss the relevant growth factor families, their roles in tumor biology, as well as the respective downstream signaling pathways. Importantly, cancer-associated activating mutations that impinge on these pathways often relieve, in part, the reliance of tumors on growth factors. On the other hand, growth factors are frequently involved in evolvement of resistance to therapeutic regimens, which extends the roles for polypeptide factors to very late phases of tumor progression and offers opportunities for cancer therapy.
Background: The epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulates rapid tyrosine phosphorylation of the EGF receptor (EGFR). This event precedes signaling from both the plasma membrane and from endosomes, and it is essential for recruitment of a ubiquitin ligase, CBL, that sorts activated receptors to endosomes and degradation. Because hyperphosphorylation of EGFR is involved in oncogenic pathways, we performed an unbiased screen of small interfering RNA (siRNA) oligonucleotides targeting all human tyrosine phosphatases. Results: We report the identification of PTPRK and PTPRJ (density-enhanced phosphatase-1 [DEP-1]) as EGFR-targeting phosphatases. DEP-1 is a tumor suppressor that dephosphorylates and thereby stabilizes EGFR by hampering its ability to associate with the CBL-GRB2 ubiquitin ligase complex. DEP-1 silencing enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of endosomal EGFRs and, accordingly, increased cell proliferation. In line with functional interactions, EGFR and DEP-1 form physical associations, and EGFR phosphorylates a substrate-trapping mutant of DEP-1. Interestingly, the interactions of DEP-1 and EGFR are followed by physical segregation: whereas EGFR undergoes endocytosis, DEP-1 remains confined to the cell surface. Conclusions: EGFR and DEP-1 physically interact at the cell surface and maintain bidirectional enzyme-substrate interactions, which are relevant to their respective oncogenic and tumor-suppressive functions. These observations highlight the emerging roles of vesicular trafficking in malignant processes.
Keywords: Biochemical Research Methods; Biotechnology & Applied Microbiology
Aberrant endocytosis, vesicle targeting, and receptor recycling represent emerging hallmarks of cancer. In this issue of the JCI, Zhang and colleagues demonstrate that RAB-coupling protein (RCP; also known as RAB11FIP1) is a "driver" of the 8p11-12 amplicon in human breast cancer and mouse xenograft models of mammary carcinogenesis (see the related article beginning on page 2171). Their finding that RAB GTPase function enables genomic amplification to confer aggressiveness to mammary tumors adds significantly to the body of evidence supporting pivotal roles for receptor trafficking in the proliferation and metastasis of cancer.
Genetic screens performed in worms identified major regulators of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway, including the ubiquitin ligase Cbl/SLI-1. Here we focus on the less-characterized Lst2 protein and confirm suppression of MAPK signals. Unexpectedly, human Lst2, a monoubiquitinylated phosphoprotein, does not localize to endosomes, despite an intrinsic phosphoinositol-binding FYVE domain. By constructing an ubiquitinylation-defective mutant and an ubiquitin fusion, we conclude that endosomal localization of Lst2, along with an ability to divert incoming EGFR molecules to degradation in lysosomes, is regulated by ubiquitinylation/deubiquitinylation cycles. Consistent with bifurcating roles, Lst2 physically binds Trim3/BERP, which interacts with Hrs and a complex that biases cargo recycling. These results establish an ubiquitin-based endosomal switch of receptor sorting, functionally equivalent to the mechanism inactivating Hrs via monoubiquitinylation.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to ErbB-2/HER2 or to its sibling, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), prolong survival of cancer patients, especially when combined with cytotoxic therapies. However, low effectiveness of therapeutic mAbs and the evolution of patient resistance call for improvements. Here we test in animals pairs of anti-ErbB-2 mAbs and report that pairs comprising an antibody reactive with the dimerization site of ErbB-2 and an antibody recognizing another distinct epitope better inhibit ErbB-2-overexpressing tumors than other pairs or the respective individual mAbs. Because the superiority of antibody combinations extends to tumor cell cultures, we assume that nonimmunological mechanisms contribute to mAb synergy. One potential mechanism, namely the ability of mAb combinations to instigate ErbB-2 endocytosis, is demonstrated. Translation of these lessons to clinical applications may enhance patient response and delay acquisition of resistance.
Once engaged by soluble or matrix-anchored ligands, cell surface proteins are commonly sorted to lysosomal degradation through several endocytic pathways. Defective vesicular trafficking of growth factor receptors, as well as unbalanced recycling of integrin- and cadherin-based adhesion complexes, has emerged in the past 5 years as a multifaceted hallmark of malignant cells. In line with the cooperative nature of endocytic machineries, multiple oncogenic alterations underlie defective endocytosis, such as altered ubiquitylation (Cbl and Nedd4 ubiquitin ligases, for example), altered cytoskeletal interactions and alterations to Rab family members. Pharmaceutical interception of the propensity of tumour cells to derail their signalling and their adhesion receptors may constitute a novel target for cancer therapy.
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are transmembrane allosteric enzymes: binding of ligand growth factors to their ectodomains stimulates a cytoplasm-facing tyrosine kinase activity, which initiates a plethora of cellular processes. The enormous complexity of RTK signalling, along with rich involvement in pathologies ( e. g. cancer and diabetes), motivated the establishment of the international, multi-disciplinary RTK consortium (http://www.rtkconsort.org/) in 2005. In collaboration with the British Society for Proteome Research and the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Consortium held on July 23rd and 24th a Workshop on Proteomics and Phosphoproteomics of RTK Signalling Networks ( Hinxton Hall Conference Centre, Cambridge, UK). As highlighted below, systems control ( a layered web of regulatory loops summarised in Fig. 1) emerged throughout the workshop as a common theme of many presentations.
Robust biological signaling networks evolved, through gene duplications, from simple, relatively fragile cascades. Architectural features such as layered configuration, branching and modularity, as well as functional characteristics (e. g., feedback control circuits), enable fail-safe performance in the face of internal and external perturbations. These universal features are exemplified here using the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) family. The RTK module is richly mutated and overexpressed in human malignancies, and pharmaceutical interception of its signaling effectively retards growth of specific tumors. Therapy-induced interception of RTK-signaling pathways and the common evolvement of drug resistance are respectively considered here as manifestations of fragility and plasticity of robust networks. The systems perspective we present views pathologies as hijackers of biological robustness and offers ways for identifying fragile hubs, as well as strategies to overcome drug resistance.
Several distinct mutations within the kinase domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are associated with non-small cell lung cancer, but mechanisms underlying their oncogenic potential are incompletely understood. Although normally ligand-induced kinase activation targets EGFR to Cbl-mediated receptor ubiquitinylation and subsequent degradation in lysosomes, we report that certain EGFR mutants escape this regulation. Defective endocytosis characterizes a deletion mutant of EGFR, as well as a point mutant (L858R-EGFR), whose association with c-Cbl and ubiquitinylation are impaired. Our data raise the possibility that refractoriness of L858R-EGFR to downregulation is due to enhanced heterodimerization with the oncogene product HER2, which leads to persistent stimulation.
Cleavable isoforms of the ErbB4 receptor tyrosine kinase release a soluble intracellular domain (ICD) that may translocate to the nucleus and regulate signaling. However, ErbB4 gene is alternatively spliced generating CYT-1 and CYT-2 isoforms with different cytoplasmic tails. Here, we addressed whether the two alternative ErbB4 ICDs of either CYT4 (ICD1) or CYT-2 (ICD2) type differ in signaling to the nucleus. Confocal microscopy and extraction of nuclear cell fractions indicated that significantly more ICD2 translocated to the nuclei when compared to ICD1. Unlike the membrane-anchored 80 kDa fragments derived from full-length ErbB4 isoforms, the two ICDs did not differ from each other in metabolic stability or ubiquitylation. However, ICD2 was phosphorylated at tyrosine residues to a higher extent and demonstrated greater in vitro kinase activity than ICDI. Mutating the ATP-binding site within ICD2 kinase domain (ICD2 K751R) blocked its tyrosine phosphorylation and significantly reduced its nuclear translocation. When expressed in the context of full-length ErbB4, ICD2 was also more efficient than ICD1 in promoting transcriptional activation of the STAT5 target gene beta-casein. These findings indicate that the two alternative ICDs of ErbB4 differ in their nuclear accumulation, and that the mechanism involves differential kinase activity but not ubiquitin-regulated ICD stability.
Keywords: SQUAMOUS-CELL CARCINOMA; FACTOR RECEPTOR; BREAST-CANCER; LUNG-CANCER; CETUXIMAB; ACTIVATION; MECHANISM; NECK; HEAD
Multiple growth- and differentiation-inducing polypeptide factors bind to and activate transmembrane receptors tyrosine kinases (RTKs), to instigate a plethora of biochemical cascades culminating in regulation of cell fate. We concentrate on the four linear mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades, and highlight organizational and functional features relevant to their action downstream to RTKs. Two cellular outcomes of growth factor action, namely proliferation and migration, are critically regulated by MAPKs and we detail the underlying molecular mechanisms. Hyperactivation of MAPKs, primarily the Erk pathway, is a landmark of cancer. We describe the many links of MAPKs to tumor biology and review studies that identified machineries pennitting prolongation of MAPK signaling. Models attributing signal integration to both phosphorylation of MAPK substrates and to MAPK-regulated gene expression may shed light on the remarkably diversified functions of MAPKs acting downstream to activated RTKs. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The human EGF receptor (HER) 2 receptor tyrosine kinase is a survival factor for human cardiomyocytes, and its inhibition may explain the increased incidence of cardiomyopathy associated with the anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Genentech, South San Francisco, CA), particularly in patients with prior exposure to cardiotoxic chemotherapies e.g., anthracyclines. Here, we show that GW2974 (HER2/EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor), but not trastuzumab, activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), initiating a metabolic stress response in human cardiomyocytes that protects against TNF alpha-induced cell death. GW2974 stimulates calcium dependent fatty acid oxidation in vitro and in the myocardium of GW2974-treated rodents. Calcium chelation or siRNA-targeted AMPK knockdown blocks GW2974 induced fatty acid oxidation. In addition, inhibition of AMPK by a specific inhibitor resulted in increased killing of cardiomyocytes. Elucidating the effects of HER2-targeted therapies on AMPK may predict for risk of cardiomyopathy and provide a novel HER2-targeted strategy designed to protect myocardium from the pro-apoptotic effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines released in response to cardiac injury by chemotherapy or acute ischemia.
Ten years after the first clinical application of Rituximab, an anti-CD20 recombinant monoclonal antibody, immunotherapy has become common practice in oncology wards. Thanks to the great diversity of the immune system and the powerful methodology of genetic engineering, the pharmacologic potential of antibody-based therapy is far from exhaustion. The recent application of Trastuzumab, an antibody to a receptor tyrosine kinase, in adjuvant breast cancer therapy marks the beginning of a new phase in cancer treatment. Here we discuss molecular mechanisms of antibody-based therapy, the emerging ability to target minimal disease and the therapeutic potential of combining antibodies with other modalities. (C) 2007 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Federation of European Biochemical Societies.
The ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases evolved as key regulatory entities enabling the extracellular milieu to communicate with the intracellular machinery to bring forth the appropriate biological response in an ever-changing environment. Since its discovery, many aspects of the ErbB family have been deciphered; with emphasis on aberration of signaling in human diseases. However, only now, with the availability of the atomic coordinates of these receptors, can we construct a comprehensive model of the mechanisms underlying ligand-induced receptor dimerization and subsequent tyrosine kinase activation. Furthermore, the recent introduction of new high-throughput screening methodologies, combined with the materialization of a systems biology perspective, reveals an overwhelming network complexity, enabling robust signaling and evolvability. This knowledge is likely to impact our view of diseases as system perturbations and resistance to ErbB-targeted therapeutics as manifestations of robustness.
Signaling pathways invoke interplays between forward signaling and feedback to drive robust cellular response. In this study, we address the dynamics of growth factor signaling through profiling of protein phosphorylation and gene expression, demonstrating the presence of a kinetically defined cluster of delayed early genes that function to attenuate the early events of growth factor signaling. Using epidermal growth factor receptor signaling as the major model system and concentrating on regulation of transcription and mRNA stability, we demonstrate that a number of genes within the delayed early gene cluster function as feedback regulators of immediate early genes. Consistent with their role in negative regulation of cell signaling, genes within this cluster are downregulated in diverse tumor types, in correlation with clinical outcome. More generally, our study proposes a mechanistic description of the cellular response to growth factors by defining architectural motifs that underlie the function of signaling networks.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) frequently associates with cancer and already serves as a target for therapy. We report that inflammatory cytokines and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation respectively induce transient or sustained phosphorylation of EGFR. Subsequently, EGFR internalizes via a Clathrin-mediated process. In cytokine-stimulated cells, EGFR recycles back to the cell surface, whereas in irradiated cells it arrests in Rab5-containing endosomes. Under both conditions, receptor internalization is instigated by the p38 stress-induced kinase. The underlying mechanism entails phosphorylation of EGFR at a short segment (amino acids 1002-1022) containing multiple serines and threonines, as well as phosphorylation of two Rab5 effectors, EEA1 and GDI. Like UV irradiation, a chemotherapeutic agent activates p38 and accelerates receptor internalization. We demonstrate that abrogating EGFR internalization reduces the efficacy of chemotherapy-induced cell death. Hence, by preventing EGFR-mediated survival signaling, the internalization route we uncovered enhances the cytotoxic effect of drugs like cis-platinum, which may underlie interactions between chemotherapy and EGFR-targeting drugs.
As the complex network of signaling pathways involved in regulating tumor cell growth and survival is unraveled, fractable targets for therapeutic drug development have been identified. Questions regarding the best approach towards developing these targeted therapies remain [eg, what is the best strategy for (i) selecting doses, (ii) identifying target patient populations for clinical trials, and (iii) designing combination therapies based on scientific rationale]. Since these agents exert biological and clinical effects that are generally distinct from traditional cytotoxic agents, a different paradigm for their development has been suggested. Here we will discuss how incorporation of biomarker analysis in early phase clinical trials can provide valuable information to guide further development of targeted therapies.
When appended to the epidermal growth factor receptor ( EGFR), ubiquitin serves as a sorting signal for lysosomal degradation. Here we demonstrate that the ubiquitin ligase of EGFR, namely c-Cbl, also mediates receptor modification with the ubiquitin-like molecule Nedd8. EGF stimulates receptor neddylation, which enhances subsequent ubiquitylation, as well as sorting of EGFR for degradation. Multiple lysine residues, located within the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR, serve as attachment sites for Nedd8. A set of clathrin coat-associated binders of ubiquitin also bind Nedd8, but they undergo ubiquitylation, not neddylation. We discuss the emerging versatility of the concerted action of ubiquitylation and neddylation in the process that desensitizes growth factor-activated receptor tyrosine kinases.
Ron, the tyrosine kinase receptor for macrophage-stimulating protein is responsible for proliferation and migration of cells from different tissues. Ron can acquire oncogenic potential by single point mutations in the kinase domain, and dysregulated Ron signaling has been involved in the development of different human cancers. We have previously shown that ligand-activated Ron recruits the negative regulator c-Cbl, which mediates its ubiquitylation and degradation. Here we report that Ron is ubiquitylated also by the U-box E3 ligase C-terminal Hsc70-interacting protein ( CHIP), recruited via chaperone intermediates Hsp90 and Hsc70. Gene silencing shows that CHIP activity is necessary to mediate Ron degradation upon cell treatment with Hsp90 inhibitors geldanamycins. The oncogenic Ron(M1254T) receptor escapes from c-Cbl negative regulation but retains a strong association with CHIP. This constitutively active mutant of Ron displays increased sensitivity to geldanamycins, enhanced physical interaction with Hsp90, and more rapid degradation rate. Cell growth and migration, as well as the transforming potential evoked by Ron(M1254T), are abrogated upon Hsp90 inhibition. These data highlight a novel mechanism for Ron degradation and propose Hsp90 antagonists like geldanamycins as suitable pharmacological agents for therapy of cancers where altered Ron signaling is involved.
Clinical and experimental data suggest that ErbB-4, a member of the epidermal growth factor receptor family, may. have a role in cancer progression and response to. treatment. We found recently, using a retrospective clinical analysis, that expression of ErbB-4 receptor is correlated with metastatic potential and patient survival in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The purpose of this work was to correlate the expression of the ErbB-4 and lung cancer cells growth in vitro and in vivo and to determine the therapeutic potential of a monoclonal antibody to ErbB-4 against lung cancer. For this aim, we ectopically expressed ErbB-4 in a human NSCLC cell line that did not express the ErbB-4 protein. Overexpression of ErbB-4 produced a constitutively. activated ErbB-4 receptor. The transfected ErbB-4 positive clones showed an increased cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo in comparison with parental ErbB-4 negative cells and with the cells transfected by neomycin-resistant gene. A monoclonal antibody to ErbB-4 showed both an inhibitory effect on growth rate and an increasing apoptotic rate in the cells expressing ErbB-4. The results of the current study provide evidence that ErbB-4 plays a significant role in human lung cancer and may serve as a molecular target for anticancer therapy. (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Signalling through the ERBB/HER receptors is intricately involved in human cancer and already serves as a target for several cancer drugs. Because of its inherent complexity, it is useful to envision ERBB signalling as a bow-tie-configured, evolvable network, which shares modularity, redundancy and control circuits with robust biological and engineered systems. Because network fragility is an inevitable trade-off of robustness, systems-level understanding is expected to generate therapeutic opportunities to intercept aberrant network activation.
LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) is a serine protein kinase that regulates the actin cytoskeleton by phosphorylation and inactivation of actin depolymerizing factor cofilin. LIMK1 activity is regulated by the Rho-GTPases via their serine/threonine kinase effectors Rho-kinase and p21-activated kinases 1 and 4 that phosphorylate LIMK1 on threonine 508 in its activation loop. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the pathway leading to the stability of LIMK1, a protein with a half-life of similar to 20 h. Because the half-life of kinase-dead LIMK1 is only 4 h, it is suggestive that trans- or auto-phosphorylation is responsible for the stabilization of LIMK1. Using known Hsp90 inhibitors, we have shown that the half-life of LIMK1 in cells depends on the presence of active Hsp90. Furthermore, endogenous LIMK1 coimmunoprecipitated with endogenous Hsp90 and this interaction promoted LIMK1 homodimer formation as seen by cross-linking experiments. Hsp90 binds LIMK1 via a recognition sequence within the LIMK1 kinase domain, homologous to that of ErbB-2. Mutation of a proline residue within this sequence to glutamic acid reduces its interaction with Hsp90, inhibits homodimer formation, and reduces its half-life to 4 h. These findings implicate Hsp90 in the stabilization of LIMK1 by promoting homodimer formation and transphosphorylation.
Hsp90 is a highly abundant chaperone whose clientele includes hundreds of cellular proteins, many of which are central players in key signal transduction pathways and the majority of which are protein kinases. In light of the variety of Hsp90 clientele, the mechanism of selectivity of the chaperone toward its client proteins is a major open question. Focusing on human kinases, we have demonstrated that the chaperone recognizes a common surface in the amino-terminal lobe of kinases from diverse families, including two newly identified clients, NF kappa B-inducing kinase and death-associated protein kinase, and the oncoprotein HER2/ErbB-2. Surface electrostatics determine the interaction with the Hsp90 chaperone complex such that introduction of a negative charge within this region disrupts recognition. Compiling information on the Hsp90 dependence of 105 protein kinases, including 16 kinases whose relationship to Hsp90 is first examined in this study, reveals that surface features, rather than a contiguous amino acid sequence, define the capacity of the Hsp90 chaperone machine to recognize client kinases. Analyzing Hsp90 regulation of two major signaling cascades, the mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, leads us to propose that the selectivity of the chaperone to specific kinases is functional, namely that Hsp90 controls kinases that function as hubs integrating multiple inputs. These lessons bear significance to pharmacological attempts to target the chaperone in human pathologies, such as cancer.
ErbB2, a member of the EGF receptor family of tyrosine kinases is overexpressed on many tumor cells of epithelial origin and is the molecular target of trastuzumab (Herceptin), the first humanized antibody used in the therapy of solid tumors. Trastuzumab, which is thought to act, at least in part, by downregulating ErbB2 expression is only effective in similar to 30-40% of ErbB2 positive breast tumors. Geldanamycin and its derivative 17-AAG are potential antitumor agents capable of downregulating client proteins of Hsp90, including ErbB2. To investigate the ability of 17-AAG to downregulate ErbB2 in trastuzumab resistant breast cancer cells and the possibility of 17-AAG and trastuzumab potentiating each other's effect, the recently established trastuzumab resistant breast cancer cell line, JIMT-1 was compared to the known trastuzumab sensitive SKBR-3 line. Baseline and stimulus-evoked dimerization and activation levels of ErbB2, and the effects of trastuzumab and 17-AAG alone and in combination on cell proliferation and apoptosis, as well as on ErbB2 expression and phosphorylation have been measured. Baseline activation and amenability to activation and downregulation by trastuzumab was much lower in the resistant line. However, 17-AAG enhanced ErbB2 homodimerization after 5-10 min of treatment in both cell lines, and decreased proliferation with an IC50 of 70 nM for SKBR-3 and 10 nM for JIMT-1. Thus, 17-AAG may be a useful drug in trastuzumab resistant ErbB2 overexpressing tumors. The antiproliferative effect of 17-AAG was positively correlated with phosphorylation and downregulation of ErbB2 and was dominated by apoptosis, although, especially at higher doses, necrosis was also present. Interestingly, IC50 values for ErbB2 downregulation and phosphorylation, in the 30-40 nM range, were not significantly different for the two cell lines. This observation and the negative correlation between resting ErbB2 levels and the anti proliferative effect of 17-AAG may ind
Polyubiquitylation of cellular proteins has long been recognized as a prelude to a degradative fate in proteasomes. In recent years, however, ubiquitin conjugation has emerged as a regulatory strategy of considerable versatility. Most notably, monoubiquitylation is attributed an intimate role in trafficking of membrane proteins between various cellular compartments. Diverse classes of transmembrane proteins from across the eukaryotic spectrum (e.g., epidermal growth factor-receptor and other receptor tyrosine kinases) become modified with monoubiquitin molecules. Monoubiquitylation of substrates, in turn, regulates both their endocytosis at the plasma membrane and sorting in endosomes for delivery to lysosomes or vacuoles. A mechanistic rationale lies in the identification of a growing list of ubiquitin-binding domains carried by a variety of endocytic adaptor proteins. Thus, ubiquitin-conjugated membrane proteins may form extensive contacts with the endocytic machinery. Further, ubiquitin-binding adaptors and other endocytic components are, likewise, often monoubiquilylated. In this case, ubiquitin conjugation may serve to enhance intermolecular avidity in cargo-bound endocytic complexes, or alternatively, to mediate timely inactivation of ubiquitin-binding adaptors. Interestingly, the ubiquitin/endocytosis interface is appropriated by pathogenic organisms, for instance, during budding of viruses from host-infected cells. Moreover, compromised ubiquitin-mediated transport of certain signaling receptors is associated with disease states, including oncogenic transformation.
Sprouty proteins are evolutionarily conserved negative feedback regulators of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases. Mammalian versions of these proteins differentially regulate signaling induced by the fibroblast and the epidermal growth factors (FGF and EGF, respectively). Herein we show that, although both growth factors elevate expression of Sprouty-2, FGF- and not EGF-induced activation of the Erk/MAPK pathway is inhibited by Sprouty-2. Attenuation of FGF- signaling is accompanied by the induction of Sprouty-2 phosphorylation on the amino-terminal as well as carboxyl-terminal tyrosine residues, which are less effectively modified upon EGF treatment. Mutagenesis of carboxyl-terminal tyrosines, especially a newly identified phosphorylation site, tyrosine 227, impaired the inhibitory activity of Sprouty-2. These results attribute a novel role for carboxyl-terminal tyrosine residues and yet unidentified phosphotyrosine-binding proteins in the differential regulation of Sprouty-2 activity.
Four ErbB receptors and multiple growth factors sharing an epidermal growth factor (EGF) motif underlie transmembrane signaling by the ErbB family in development and cancer. Unlike other ErbB proteins, ErbB-2 binds no known EGF-like ligand. To address the existence of a direct ligand for ErbB-2, we applied algorithms based on genomic and cDNA structures to search sequence data bases. These searches reidentified all known EGF-like growth factors including Epigen (EPG), the least characterized ligand, but failed to identify novel factors. The precursor of EPG is a widely expressed transmembrane glycoprotein that undergoes cleavage at two sites to release a soluble EGF-like domain. A recombinant EPG cannot stimulate cells singly expressing ErbB-2, but it acts as a mitogen for cells expressing ErbB-1 and co-expressing ErbB-2 in combination with the other ErbBs. Interestingly, soluble EPG is more mitogenic than EGF, although its binding affinity is 100-fold lower. Our results attribute the anomalous mitogenic power of EPG to evasion of receptor-mediated depletion of ligand molecules, as well as to inefficient receptor ubiquitylation and down-regulation. In conclusion, EPG might represent the last EGF-like growth factor and define a category of low affinity ligands, whose bioactivity differs from the more extensively studied high affinity ligands.
Suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) are Src homology-2-containing proteins originally identified as negative regulators of cytokine signaling. Accumulating evidence indicates a role for SOCS proteins in the regulation of additional signaling pathways including receptor tyrosine kinases. Notably, SOCS36E, the Drosophila ortholog of mammalian SOCS5, was recently implicated as a negative regulator of the Drosophila ortholog of EGFR. In this study, we aimed at characterizing the role of SOCS5 in the negative regulation of EGFR. Here we show that the expression of SOCS5 and its closest homolog SOCS4 is elevated in cells following treatment with EGF, similar to several negative feedback regulators of EGFR whose expression is up-regulated upon receptor activation. The expression of SOCS5 led to a marked reduction in EGFR expression levels by promoting EGFR degradation. The reduction in EGFR levels and EGF-induced signaling in SOCS5-expressing cells requires both the Src homology-2 and SOCS box domains of SOCS5. Interestingly, EGFR is degraded by SOCS5 prior to EGF treatment in a ligand- and c-Cbl-independent manner. SOCS5 can associate with EGFR and can also bind the ElonginBC protein complex via its SOCS box, which may recruit an E3 ubiquitin ligase to promote EGFR degradation. Thus, we have characterized a novel function for SOCS5 in regulating EGFR and discuss its potential role in controlling EGFR homeostasis.
mAbs to receptor tyrosine kinases such as EGF receptor/ErbB-1 and HER2/ErbB-2 inhibit the tumorigenic growth of certain cancer cells, but although recombinant versions of such Abs are already used in oncology wards, the mechanism underlying immunotherapy remains unknown. We report that anti-EGF receptor Abs promote a slow endocytic process distinct from the rapid EGF-induced receptor internalization. Combining mAbs that engage distinct epitopes significantly accelerates receptor degradation. In addition, mAb combinations are more effective than single Abs in inhibiting HER2 signaling in vitro and tumorigenesis in animals. We present a model attributing efficacy of immunotherapy to the size of Ab-receptor lattices formed at the cell surface, which dictates the rate of endocytic clearance and extent of signaling blockade.
Intracellular signals mediated by the family of receptor tyrosine kinases play pivotal roles in morphogenesis, cell fate determination and pathogenesis. Precise control of signal amplitude and duration is critical for the fidelity and robustness of these processes. Activation of receptor tyrosine kinases by their cognate growth factors not only leads to propagation of the signal through various biochemical cascades, but also sets in motion multiple attenuation mechanisms that ultimately terminate the active state. Early attenuators pre-exist prior to receptor activation and they act to limit signal propagation. Subsequently, late attenuators, such as Lrig and Sprouty, are transcriptionally induced and further act to dampen the signal. Central to the process of signaling attenuation is the role of the E3 ubiquitin ligase c-Cbl. While Cbl-mediated processes of receptor ubiquitylation and endocytosis are relatively well understood, the links of Cbl to other negative regulators are just now beginning to be appreciated. Here we review some emerging interfaces between Cbl and the transcriptionally induced negative regulators Lrig and Sprouty.
ErbB-2/HER2 is an oncogenic tyrosine kinase that regulates a signalling network by forming ligand-induced heterodimers with several growth factor receptors of the ErbB family. Hsp90 and co-chaperones regulate degradation of ErbB-2 but not other ErbB members. Here, we report that the role of Hsp90 in modulating the ErbB network extends beyond regulation of protein stability. The capacity of ErbB-2 to recruit ligand-bound receptors into active heterodimers is limited by Hsp90, which is dissociated from ErbB-2 following ligand-induced heterodimerization. We show that Hsp90 binds a specific loop within the kinase domain of ErbB-2, thereby restraining heterodimer formation and catalytic function. These results define a role for Hsp90 as a molecular switch regulating the ErbB signalling network by limiting formation of ErbB-2-centred receptor complexes.
Growth factors of the EGF family and their respective ErbB/HER receptor tyrosine kinases underlie many landmarks of tumor cells, including excessive growth, invasive behavior and attraction of blood vessels. Enhanced expression of ErbB proteins, existence of permanently active receptor mutants and occurrence of autocrine loops are frequently observed in human cancer, and in some cases they associate with poor disease outcome. The four ErbB proteins and their 11 ligands act within a layered signaling network coordinated by ErbB-2/HER2, the most oncogenic family member. Drugs that intercept signals emanating from ErbB-2 and ErbB-1 are already in routine clinical application. Here we review three major strategies to develop new ErbB-targeted therapies. These are monoclonal anti-receptor antibodies, specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors and antagonists of heat shock protein 90. The underlying mechanisms are critically examined, with an emphasis on potential drug combinations, which hold promise for enhanced clinical efficacy. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Kekkon proteins negatively regulate the epidermal growth factor receptor ( EGFR) during oogenesis in Drosophila. Their structural relative in mammals, LRIG1, is a transmembrane protein whose inactivation in rodents promotes skin hyperplasia, suggesting involvement in EGFR regulation. We report upregulation of LRIG1 transcript and protein upon EGF stimulation, and physical association of the encoded protein with the four EGFR orthologs of mammals. Upregulation of LRIG1 is followed by enhanced ubiquitylation and degradation of EGFR. The underlying mechanism involves recruitment of c-Cbl, an E3 ubiquitin ligase that simultaneously ubiquitylates EGFR and LRIG1 and sorts them for degradation. We conclude that LRIG1 evolved in mammals as a feedback negative attenuator of signaling by receptor tyrosine kinases.
The tumor suppressor gene 101 (tsg101) regulates vesicular trafficking processes in yeast and mammals. We report a novel protein, Tal (Tsg101-associated ligase), whose RING finger is necessary for multiple monoubiquitylation of Tsg101. Bivalent binding of Tsg101 to a tandem tetrapeptide motif (PTAP) and to a central region of Tal is essential for Tal-mediated ubiquitylation of Tsg101. By studying endocytosis of the epidermal growth factor receptor and egress of the human immunodeficiency virus, we conclude that Tal regulates a Tsg101-associated complex responsible for the sorting of cargo into cytoplasm-containing vesicles that bud at the multivesicular body and at the plasma membrane.
Growth factors and their transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases play pivotal roles in morphogenesis, cell fate determination and pathogenesis, including multiple stages of cancer. The amplitude and kinetics of signaling by growth factor receptors are determined by an endocytic process, which sorts activated, autophosphorylated receptors to degradation in lysosomes. Recent studies uncovered the role of protein ubiquitylation in vesicular trafficking of growth factor receptors. Decoration of ligand-activated receptors by multiple monomeric ubiquitins distinguishes this degradative route from the proteasome-mediated pathway, which involves polymeric chains of ubiquitin. Although receptor ubiquitylation occurs at the cell surface, its major role is to sort internalized receptors to the lumen of the multivesicular body, en route to the lysosome. The ubiquitin ligases that control this late sorting event belong to the Cbl family of RING finger adaptors, which bind specific phosphotyrosine residues in the receptors upon activation by ligand. Another group of E3 ubiquitin ligases, the Nedd4 family, regulates the initial sorting event, which targets receptors to clathrin-coated regions of the plasma membrane. This step entails ubiquitin-dependent assembly of a clathrin-binding complex of adaptors such as epsins, which share ubiquitin-interacting motifs. The concerted action of both ubiquitin-binding adaptors of membrane coats and E3 ligases, as well as their regulation by protein phosphorylation and ubiquitylation, ensure robust endocytosis of growth factor receptors. Genetic defects and virus-mediated manipulations of the endocytic pathway divert receptors to a default recycling pathway, thereby enabling unrestrained signaling characteristic to transformed cells.
Growth factors enable cells to escape irradiation-induced death (apoptosis). One important family of growth factors share an epidermal growth factor motif, and all bind to ErbB transmembrane receptors. In response to growth factor ligands, ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases induce a variety of cellular responses, including proliferation, differentiation and motility. Signal transduction pathways are initiated upon ligand-induced receptor homo- or heterodimerization and activation of tyrosine kinase activity. The complement of induced signaling pathways, as well as their magnitude and duration, determines the biological outcome of signaling, and in turn, is regulated by the identity of the ligand and the receptor composition. Recent insights into the structural basis for receptor dimerization, as provided by crystallographic analysis, are described, as is the differential activation of signaling pathways and downregulatory mechanisms. Further, dysregulation of the ErbB network is implicated in a vareity of human cancers, and the nature of aberrant signaling through ErbB proteins, as well as current therapeutic approaches, are discussed, highlighting the role of the highly oncogenic ErbB-2 molecule. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc.
Signal transduction mediated by ErbB/HER receptor tyrosine kinases is crucial for the development and maintenance of epithelial tissues, and aberrant signaling is frequently associated with malignancies of epithelial origin. This review focuses on the roles played by the Hsp90 chaperone machinery in the regulation of signaling through the ErbB/HER network, and discusses potential therapeutic strategies that disrupt chaperone functions. Hsp90 and its associated cochaperones regulate ErbB signal transduction through multiple mechanisms. The chaperone system controls the stability of the nascent forms of both ErbB-1 (EGF-receptor) and ErbB-2/HER2, while regulation of the mature form is restricted to ErbB-2. Regulation by the Hsp90 complex extends to downstream effectors of ErbB signaling, namely Raf-1, Pdk-1 and Akt/PKB. Disrupting the function of Hsp90 results in the degradation of both the receptors and their effectors, thereby inhibiting tumor cell growth. The importance of an Hsp90-recognition motif located within the kinase domain of ErbB-2 is discussed, as well as a direct role for Hsp90 in regulating tyrosine kinase activity. In light of recent observations, we emphasize the ability of specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors to selectively target ErbB-2 to the chaperone-mediated degradation pathway. ErbB-specific drugs are already used to treat cancers, and clinical trials are underway for additional compounds that intercept ErbB signaling, including drugs that target Hsp90. Hence, the dependence of ErbB-2 upon Hsp90 reveals an Achilles heel, which opens a window of opportunity for combating cancers driven by the ErbB/HER signaling network.
ErbB-2/HER2 drives epithelial malignancies by forming heterodimers with growth factor receptors. The primordial invertebrate receptor is sorted to the basolateral epithelial surface by binding of the PDZ domain of Lin-7 to the receptor's tail. We show that all four human ErbBs are basolaterally expressed, even when the tail motif is absent. Mutagenesis of hLin-7 unveiled a second domain, KID, that binds to the kinase region of ErbBs. The PDZ interaction mediates stabilization of ErbB-2 at the basolateral surface. On the other hand, binding of KID is involved in initial delivery to the basolateral surface, and in its absence, unprocessed ErbB-2 molecules are diverted to the apical surface. Hence, distinct domains of Lin-7 regulate receptor delivery to and maintenance at the basolateral surface of epithelia.
Growth factors stimulate specific receptor tyrosine kinases, but subsequent receptor endocytosis terminates signaling. The ubiquitin ligase c- Cbl targets epidermal growth factor receptors ( EGFRs) to endocytosis by tagging them with multiple ubiquitin molecules. However, the type of ubiquitylation is unknown; whereas polyubiquitin chains signal proteasomal degradation, ubiquitin monomers control other processes. We report that in isolation c- Cbl mediates monoubiquitylation rather than polyubiquitylation of EGFRs. Consistent with the sufficiency of monoubiquitylation, when fused to the tail of EGFR, a single ubiquitin induces receptor endocytosis and degradation in cells. By using receptor and ubiquitin mutants, we infer that c- Cbl attaches a founder monoubiquitin to the kinase domain of EGFR and this is complemented by the conjugation of additional monoubiquitins. Hence, receptor tyrosine kinases are desensitized through conjugation of multiple monoubiquitins, which is distinct from polyubiquitin- dependent proteasomal degradation.
Ron, the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) for the macrophage stimulating protein (MSP), activates multiple signaling pathways by recruiting several positive regulators to a multifunctional docking site. Here we show that stimulation by MSP also recruits a negative regulator, the c-Cbl ubiquitin ligase, to the multifunctional docking site as well as to a juxtamembrane tyrosine autophosphorylation site. c-Cbl recruitment to these two sites results in polyubiquitylation of Ron molecules, which are subsequently sorted for endocytosis and degradation. Both the phosphotyrosine binding domain of c-Cbl and its RING domain are essential for downregulation of Ron. Although Ron and c-Cbl are found also in physical complexes that include Grb2, these associations are insufficient for productive ubiquitylation of Ron. Our results shed light on the mechanism of receptor desensitization mediated by c-Cbl and its binding partner Grb2.
ErbB-2 (also called HER2/neu) and ErbB-3 are closely related to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ErbB-1), but unlike EGFR, ErbB-2 is a ligandless receptor, whereas ErbB-3 lacks tyrosine kinase activity. Hence, both ErbB-2 and ErbB-3 are active only in the context of ErbB heterodimers, and ErbB-2 . ErbB-3 heterodimers, which are driven by neuregulin ligands, are the most prevalent and potent complexes. These stringently controlled heterodimers are repeatedly employed throughout embryonic development and dictate the establishment of several cell lineages through mesenchyme-epithelial inductive processes and the interactions of neurons with muscle, glia, and Schwann cells. Likewise, the potent combination of signaling pathways engaged by the heterodimers drives an aggressive phenotype of tumors of secretory epithelia, including breast and lung cancers. This review highlights recent structural insights into the mechanism of ligand-induced heterodimer formation, and concentrates on signaling pathways employed by ErbB-2 and ErbB-3 in normal and in malignant cells. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.
Cellular Src and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) collaborate in the progression of certain human malignancies, and their cooverexpression characterizes relatively aggressive animal tumors. Our study addressed the mode of oncogenic cooperation and reports that overexpression of c-Src in model cellular systems results in the accumulation of EGFR at the cell surface. The underlying mechanism involves inhibition of the normal, c-Cbl-regulated process of ligand-induced receptor down-regulation. In response to activation of c-Src, c-Cbl proteins undergo tyrosine phosphorylation that promotes their ubiquitylation and proteasomal destruction. Consequently, ubiquitylation of EGFR by c-Cbl is restrained in Src-transformed cells, and receptor sorting to endocytosis is impaired. In conclusion, by promoting destruction of c-Cbl, c-Src enables EGFR to evade desensitization, which explains Src-EGFR collaboration in oncogenesis.
Cancer cells depend on multiple. locally produced growth factors. Signaling by growth factors entails phosphorylation events. and its termination is determined primarily by endocytosis of growth factor receptor complexes, One group of growth factor receptors frequently implicated in human cancer is the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases. By using ErbB as a prototype, here we review the role of protein ubiquitylation in the process that terminates signaling. Specifically, we concentrate on several adaptor proteins, including c-Cbl and Hgs, to elucidate the complexity of receptor sorting for degradation. Detailed understanding of ubiquitylation control on receptor desensitization may lead to better ways to diagnose and eradicate cancer. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Background: Growth factors and their receptor tyrosine kinases play pivotal roles in development, normal physiology, and pathology. Signal transduction is regulated primarily by receptor endocytosis and degradation in lysosomes ("receptor downregulation"). c-Cbl is an adaptor that modulates this process by recruiting binding partners, such as ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes. The role of another group of adaptors, Sprouty proteins, is less understood; although, studies in insects implicated the founder protein in the negative regulation of several receptor tyrosine kinases. Results: By utilizing transfection of living cells, as well as reconstituted in vitro systems, We identified a dual regulatory mechanism that combines human Sprouty2 and c-Cbl. Upon activation of the receptor for the epidermal growth factor (EGFR), Sprouty2 undergoes phosphorylation at a conserved tyrosine that recruits the Src homology 2 domain of c-Cbl. Subsequently, the flanking RING finger of c-CbI mediates poly-ubiquitination of Sprouty2, which is followed by proteasomal degradation. Because phosphorylated. Sprouty2 sequesters active c-Cbl molecules, it impedes receptor ubiquitination, downregulation, and degradation in lysosomes. This competitive interplay occurs in endosomes, and it regulates the amplitude and longevity of intracellular signals. Conclusions: Sprouty2 emerges as an inducible antagonist of c-Cbl, and together they set a time window for receptor activation. When incorporated in signaling networks, the coupling of positive (Sprouty) to negative (Cbl) feedback loops can greatly enhance output diversification.
The neuregulin (NRG)/epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of growth factors consists of several ligands that specifically activate four erbB receptor-tyrosine kinases, namely erbB-1 (EGF-R), erbB-2, (neu), erbB-3, and erbB-4. We have previously shown that islet morphogenesis is impaired and beta-cell differentiation delayed in mice lacking functional EGF-R [EGF-R (-/-)]. The present study aims to clarify which erbB ligands are important for islet development. Pancreatic expression of EGF, TGF-alpha, heparin-binding EGF, betacellulin (BTC), and NRG-4 was detected as early as embryonic d 13 (E13). Effects of these ligands were studied in E12.5 pancreatic explant cultures grown for 5 d ex vivo. None of the growth factors affected the ratio of endocrine to exocrine cells. However, significant effects within the endocrine cell populations were induced by EGF, BTC, and NRG-4. beta-Cell development was augmented by BTC, whereas the development of somatostatin-expressing delta-cells was stimulated by NRG-4. Both ligands decreased the numbers of glucagon-containing a-cells. The effect of BTC was abolished in the EGF-R (-/-) mice. A soluble erbB-4 binding fusion protein totally inhibited the effects of NRG-4 but not of BTC. Neutralization of endogenous NRG-4 activity in the model system effectively inhibited delta-cell development, indicating that this erbB4-ligand is an essential factor for delineation of the somatostatin-producing delta-cells. Our results suggest that ligands of the EGF-R/erbB-1 and erbB-4 receptors regulate the lineage determination of islet cells during pancreatic development. BTC, acting through EGF-R/erbB-1, is important for the differentiation of beta-cells. This could be applied in the targeted differentiation of stem cells into insulin-producing cells.
Ligand-dependent endocytosis of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) involves recruitment of a ubiquitin ligase, and sorting of ubiquitylated receptors to lysosomal degradation. By studying Hgs, a mammalian homolog of a yeast vacuolar-sorting adaptor, we provide information on the less understood, ligand-independent pathway of receptor endocytosis and degradation. Constitutive endocytosis involves receptor ubiquitylation and translocation to Hgs-containing endosomes. Whereas the lipid-binding motif of Hgs is necessary for receptor endocytosis, the ubiquitin-interacting motif negatively regulates receptor degradation. We demonstrate that the ubiquitin-interacting motif is endowed with two functions: it binds ubiquitylated proteins and it targets self-ubiquitylation by recruiting Nedd4, an ubiquitin ligase previously implicated in endocytosis. Based upon the dual function of the ubiquitin-interacting motif and its wide occurrence in endocytic adaptors, we propose a ubiquitin-interacting motif network that relays ubiquitylated membrane receptors to lysosomal degradation through successive budding events.
Overexpression of ErbB-2/HER2 is associated with aggressive human malignancies, and therapeutic strategies targeting the oncoprotein are currently in different stages of clinical application. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that block the nucleotide-binding site of the kinase are especially effective against tumors. Here we report an unexpected activity of TKIs: along with inhibition of tyrosine phosphorylation, they enhance ubiquitylation and accelerate endocytosis and subsequent intracellular destruction of ErbB-2 molecules. Especially potent is an irreversible TKI (CI-1033) that alkylates a cysteine specific to ErbB receptors. The degradative pathway stimulated by TKIs appears to be chaperone mediated, and is common to the heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) antagonist geldanamycin and a stress-induced mechanism. In agreement with this conclusion, CI-1033 and geldanamycin additively inhibit tumor cell growth. Based upon a model for drug-induced degradation of ErbB-2, we propose a general strategy for selective destruction of oncoproteins by targeting their interaction with molecular chaperones.
Ligand-induced desensitization of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is controlled by c-Cbl, a ubiquitin ligase that binds multiple signaling proteins, including the Grb2 adaptor. Consistent with a negative role for c-Cbl, here we report that defective Tyr1045 of EGFR, an inducible c-Cbl docking site, enhances the mitogenic response to EGF. Signaling potentiation is due to accelerated recycling of the mutant receptor and a concomitant defect in ligand-induced ubiquitylation and endocytosis of EGFR. Kinetic as well as morphological analyses of the internalization-defective mutant receptor imply that c-Cbl-mediated ubiquitylation sorts EGFR to endocytosis and to subsequent degradation in lysosomes. Unexpectedly, however, the mutant receptor displayed significant residual ligand-induced ubiquitylation, especially in the presence of an overexpressed c-Cbl. The underlying mechanism seems to involve recruitment of a Grb2 c-Cbl complex to Grb2-specific docking sites of EGFR, and concurrent acceleration of receptor ubiquitylation and desensitization. Thus, in addition to its well-characterized role in mediating positive signals, Grb2 can terminate signal transduction by accelerating c-Cbl-dependent sorting of active tyrosine kinases to destruction.
Growth factors and their transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases play important roles in cell proliferation, survival, migration and differentiation. One group of growth factors. comprising epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like proteins and neuregulins, stimulates cells to divide by activating members of the EGF receptor (EGFR) family, which consists of the EGFR itself and the receptors known as HER2-4. This highly conserved signalling module plays a fundamental role in the morphogenesis of a diverse spectrum of organisms. ranging from humans to nematodes, and has also been implicated in the development and growth of many types of human tumour cells. In humans. more than 30 ligands and the EGFR family of four receptors lie at the head of a complex, multi-layered signal-transduction network. Different activated receptor-ligand complexes vary in both the strength and type of cellular responses that they induce. Analysis of the multiple processes that modulate EGFR signal transduction. such as receptor heterodimerisation and endocytosis, has revealed new therapeutic opportunities and elucidated mechanisms contributing to the efficacy of existing anticancer treatments. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Cbl proteins function as ubiquitin protein ligases for the activated epidermal growth factor receptor and, thus, negatively regulate its activity. Here we show that Cbl-b is ubiquitinated and degraded upon activation of the receptor. Epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced Cbl-b degradation requires intact RING finger and tyrosine kinase binding domains and requires binding of the Cbl-b protein to the activated EGF receptor (EGFR), Degradation of both the EGFR and the Cbl-b protein is blocked by lysosomal and proteasomal inhibitors, Other components of the EGFR-signaling complex (i.e. Grb2 and Shc) are also degraded in an EGF-induced Cbl-b-dependent fashion. Our results suggest that the ubiquitin protein ligase function of Cbl-b is regulated by coordinated degradation of the Cbl-b protein along with its substrate. Furthermore, the data demonstrate that Cbl-b mediates degradation of multiple proteins in the EGFR-signaling complex.
When epidermal growth factor and its relatives bind the ErbB family of receptors, they trigger a rich network of signalling pathways, culminating in responses ranging from cell division to death, motility to adhesion. The network is often dysregulated in cancer and lends credence to the mantra that molecular understanding yields clinical benefit: over 25,000 women with breast cancer have now been treated with trastuzumab (Herceptin(R)), a recombinant antibody designed to block the receptor ErbB2. Likewise, small-molecule enzyme inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies to ErbB1 are in advanced phases of clinical testing. What can this pathway teach us about translating basic science into clinical use?
ErbB receptors are a family of ligand-activated tyrosine kinases that play a central role in proliferation, differentiation, and oncogenesis, ErbB2 is overexpressed in >25% of breast and ovarian cancers and is correlated with poor prognosis. Although ErbB2 and ErbB1 are highly homologous, they respond quite differently to geldanamycin (GA), an antibiotic that is a specific inhibitor of the chaperone protein Hsp90. Thus, although both mature and nascent ErbB2 proteins are down-regulated by GA, only nascent ErbB1 is sensitive to the drug. To reveal the underlying mechanism behind these divergent responses, we made a chimeric receptor (ErbB1/2) composed of the extracellular and transmembrane domains of ErbB1 and the intracellular domain of ErbB2. The ErbB1/2 protein is functional since its kinase activity was stimulated by epidermal growth factor. The sensitivity of ErbB1/2 to GA was similar to that of ErbB2 and unlike that of ErbB1, indicating that the intracellular domain of the chimera confers GA sensitivity. This finding also suggests that the GA sensitivity of mature ErbB2 depends on cytosolic Hsp90, rather than Grp94,a homolog of Hsp90 that is restricted to the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum, although both chaperones bind to and are inhibited by GA Lack of Grp94 involvement in mediating ErbB2 sensitivity to GA is further suggested by the fact that a GA derivative with low affinity for Grp94 efficiently depleted ErbB2 protein in treated cells. To localize the specific region of ErbB2 that confers GA sensitivity, we made truncated receptors with progressive deletions of the cytoplasmic domain and tested the GA sensitivity of these molecules. We found that ErbB2 constructs containing an intact kinase domain retained GA sensitivity, whereas those lacking the kinase domain (ErbB2/DK) lost responsiveness to GA completely. Hsp90 co-immunoprecipitated with all ErbB2 constructs that were sensitive to GA, but not with ErbB2/DK or ErbB1, Both tyrosine-phosphorylated
The major process that regulates the amplitude and kinetics of signal transduction by tyrosine kinase receptors is endocytic removal of active ligand-receptor complexes from the cell surface, and their subsequent sorting to degradation or to recycling. Using the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases we exemplify the diversity of the down regulation process, and concentrate on two sorting steps whose molecular details are emerging. These are the Eps15-mediated sorting to clathrin-coated regions of the plasma membrane and the c-Cbl-mediated targeting of receptors to lysosomal degradation. Like in yeast cells, sorting involves not only protein phosphorylation but also conjugation of ubiquitin molecules. The involvement of other molecules is reviewed and recent observations that challenge the negative regulatory role of endocytosis are described. Finally, we discuss the relevance of receptor down regulation to cancer therapy. (C) 2001 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2/erbB2) belongs to a family of four transmembrane receptors involved in signal transduction pathways that regulate cell growth and differentiation. Overexpression/amplification of HER2 is associated with malignancy and a poor prognosis in breast cancer. HER2 acts as a networking receptor that mediates signaling to cancer cells, causing them to proliferate. HER receptors exist as monomers but dimerize on ligand binding. HER ligands are bivalent growth factor molecules whose low-affinity site binds to HER2. No HER2-specific ligand has been identified but HER2 is the preferred heterodimerization partner for other HER receptors. HER2-containing heterodimers are relatively long-lived and potent. HER3 has no inherent activity and is the major and most potent dimerization partner of HER2. HER2 overexpression biases the formation of HER2-containing heterodimers, leading to enhanced responsiveness to stromal growth factors and oncogenic transformation. Removal of HER2 from the cell surface or inhibition of its intrinsic enzymatic activity may reduce oncogenicity. Our research suggests that the antitumor efficacy of HER2-specific antibodies such as Herceptin (R) relates to their ability to direct HER2 to a Cbl-dependent endocytosis and degradation pathway. The reported clinical therapeutic efficacy of anti-HER2 monoclonal antibodies in breast cancer highlights the importance of understanding the biology of HER2. Copyright (C) 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Human epidermal growth factor receptors (HER/erbB) constitute a family of four cell surface receptors involved in transmission of signals controlling normal cell growth and differentiation. A range of growth factors serve as ligands, but none is specific for the HER2 receptor. HER receptors exist as both monomers and dimers, either homo- or heterodimers. Ligand binding to HER1, HER3 or HER4 induces rapid receptor dimerization, with a marked preference for HER2 as a dimer partner. Moreover, HER2-containing heterodimers generate intracellular signals that are significantly stronger than signals emanating from other HER combinations. In normal cells, few HER2 molecules exist at the cell surface, so few heterodimers are formed and growth signals are relatively weak and controllable. When HER2 is overexpressed multiple HER2 heterodimers are formed and cell signaling is stronger, resulting in enhanced responsiveness to growth factors and malignant growth. This explains why HER2 overexpression is an indicator of poor prognosis in breast tumors and may be predictive of response to treatment. HER2 is a highly specific and promising target for new breast cancer treatments. The recombinant human anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody (rhuMAb-HER2, trastuzumab, Herceptin) induces rapid removal of HER2 from the cell surface, thereby reducing its availability to heterodimers and reducing oncogenicity.
The anti-cancer agent paclitaxel (Taxol) stabilizes microtubules leading to G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptotic cell death. In order to analyse the molecular mechanisms of Taxol-induced cytotoxicity, we studied the involvement of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) ERK and p38 as well as the p53 pathways in Taxol-induced apoptosis, The human breast carcinoma cell line MCF7 and its derivatives, MCF7/HER-2 and MDD2, sere used in the study. We found that Taxol treatment strongly activated ERK, p38 MAP kinase and p53 in MAP kinase MCF9 cells prior to apoptosis, PD98059 or SB203580, specific inhibitors of ERK and p38 kinase activities, significantly decreased apoptosis, leaving the surviving cells arrested in G2/M. These inhibitors did not significantly affect Taxol-induced alterations in the cell cycle regulatory proteins Rb, p53, p11/Waf1 and Cdk-2, In addition, inactivation of p53 did not affect cellular sensitivity to Taxol killing. However, cells with inactivated p53, unlike cells harboring wild type p53, failed to arrest in G2/M after treatment with Taxol and continued to divide or go into apoptosis, Our data show that both ERK and p38 MAP kinase cascades are essential for apoptotic response to Taxol-induced cellular killing and are independent of p53 activity, However, p53 may serve as a survival factor in breast carcinoma cells treated with Taxol by blocking cells in G2/M phase of the cell cycle.
Overexpression of ErbB-2, a coreceptor for stroma-derived growth factors, is involved in malignancies of epithelial tissues, and a humanized antibody to ErbB-2 was shown to be therapeutic in a clinical setting. In an effort to understand and enhance immunotherapy, the laboratory has raised several turner inhibitory monoclonal antibodies (mAb), including mAb L26 that blocks inter-receptor interactions. Here the application of the phage display methodology for the isolation of a phage clone that specifically recognizes mAb L26 is described. The isolated mimetic peptide (mimotope) specifically inhibited the binding of mAb L26 to ErbB-2 overexpressing cells. No sequence homology was found between the mimotope and ErbB-2, implying that it mimics a conformational structure of the receptor. Preliminary studies showed that the lead peptide can be truncated by removal of two to three amino acids from either the N- or C-terminal end without drastically affecting the inhibitory properties of the mimotope. A tryptophan/glycine residue at the C-terminus and a lysine at the N-terminus of the peptide seemed to play a role in its ability to compete with L26 antibody for binding to ErbB-2 overexpressing cells. These results highlight the potential of active immunization with conformation mimicking peptides in ErbB-2 overexpressing tumors. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Overexpression of ErbB2, a receptor-like tyrosine kinase, is shared by several types of human carcinomas. In breast tumors the extent of overexpression has a prognostic value, thus identifying the oncoprotein as a target for therapeutic strategies. Already, antibodies to ErbB2 are used in combination with chemotherapy in the treatment of metastasizing breast cancer. The mechanisms underlying the oncogenic action of ErbB2 involve a complex network in which ErbB2 acts as a ligand-less signaling subunit of three other receptors that directly bind a large repertoire of stroma-derived growth factors. The major partners of ErbB2 in carcinomas are ErbB1 (also called EGFR) and ErbB3, a kinase-defective receptor whose potent mitogenic action is activated in the context of heterodimeric complexes. Why ErbB2-containing heterodimers are relatively oncopotent is a function of a number of processes. Apparently, these heterodimers evade normal inactivation processes, by decreasing the rate of ligand dissociation, internalizing relatively slowly and avoiding the degradative pathway by returning to the cell surface. On the other hand, the heterodimers strongly recruit survival and mitogenic pathways such as the mitogen-activated protein kinases and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. Hyper-activated signaling through the ErbB-signaling network results in dysregulation of the cell cycle homeostatic machinery, with upregulation of active cyclin-D/CDK complexes. Recent data indicate that cell cycle regulators are also linked to chemoresistance in ErbB2-dependent breast carcinoma. Together with D-type cyclins, it seems that the CDK inhibitor p21(Waf1) plays an important role in evasion from apoptosis. These recent findings herald a preliminary understanding of the output layer which connects elevated ErbB-signaling to oncogenesis and chemoresistance.
A rodent oncogenic mutant of the Neu receptor tyrosine kinase is a useful experimental model because overexpression of:the respective receptor, namely HER2/ErbB-2 in human malignancies is associated with relatively aggressive diseases. Here we show that the oncogenic form of Neu is constitutively associated with the product of the c-cbl proto-oncogene and is part of a large complex that includes the phosphoinositide 3-kinase and Shc. Ectopic expression of c-Cbl, a ubiquitin-protein isopeptide ligase specific to activated tyrosine kinases, causes rapid removal of Neu from the cell surface-and severely reduces signaling downstream of oncogenic Neu. c-Cbl-induced down-regulation of Neu involves covalent attachment of ubiquitin molecules and requires the carboxyl-terminal domain of Neu. The negative effect of c-Cbl is antagonized by v-Cbl, a virus-encoded oncogenic truncated form of c-Cbl. In an in vivo model, infection of a Neu-transformed neuroblastoma with: a c-Cbl-encoding retrovirus caused enhanced down-regulation of Neu and correlated with tumor retardation. Our results implicate c-Cbl in negative regulation of Neu and offer a potential target for treatment of HER2/ErbB-2-positive human malignancies.
Transregulation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by protein kinase C (PKC) serves as a model for heterologous desensitization of receptor tyrosine kinases, but the underlying mechanism remained unknown. By using c-Cbl-induced ubiquitination of EGFR as a marker for transfer from early to late endosomes, we provide evidence that PKC can inhibit this process. In parallel, receptor down-regulation and degradation are significantly reduced. The inhibitory effects of PKC are mediated by a single threonine residue (threonine 654) of EGFR, which serves as a major PKC phosphorylation site. Biochemical and morphological analyses indicate that threonine-phosphorylated EGFR molecules undergo normal internalization, but instead of sorting to lysosomal degradation, they recycle back to the cell surface. In conclusion, by sorting EGFR to the recycling endosome, heterologous desensitization restrains ligand-induced down-regulation of EGFR.
Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) modification of substances with antitumor activity was shown to enhance penetration into growing solid tumors and extend antitumor effects. Accordingly, PEG was introduced as a modifier to two types of monoclonal antibodies (N12 and L26) specific to the ErbB2 (HER2) oncoprotein. These antibodies suppress the growth of tumors overexpressing ErbB2 (e.g. N87 human tumor) and the effect of PEG on their antitumor activity was evaluated. Methoxy-PEG-maleimide conjugated to sulfhydryl groups at the hinge region of the antibodies impaired their antibody binding to N87 tumor cells and did not enhance the antitumor inhibitory activity in tumor-bearing mice. A branched N-hydroxysuccinimide-activated PEG (PEG2), conjugated through amino groups of the protein, was used for binding to the whole antibody (Ab) or to its monomeric Fab' fragment. When tested against N87 cells in vitro, the binding activity and antitumor cytotoxic effects of Ab-PEG2 were mostly preserved. PEG2 modification did not seem to alter the tumor-inhibitory activity of the antibodies in vivo and the same pattern of tumor development was observed during the first few weeks following administration. However, the stimulating effects of PEG were observed at later stages of tumor growth since tumor development was either slowed down or completely arrested. Furthermore, a second tumor implanted into the same mice during this later stage was significantly or completely inhibited, as compared to results in mice injected with the unmodified antibody. The Fab'-PEG2 monomeric derivative was also shown to be effective in inhibiting the growth of a second tumor. The extended and prolonged enhancing effect of PEG on the antitumor activity of antibodies or Fab' fragments directed against ErbB2 may be of importance in the treatment of ErbB2-overexpressing neoplasms.
Epiregulin belongs to the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of polypeptides. Previous studies have underscored the important role of the EGF family of ligands and receptors in the pathology of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and chronic pancreatitis (CP). It is not known, however, whether epiregulin may also have a role in these diseases. Therefore, in the present study we investigated the expression and function of epiregulin in five pancreatic cancer cell lines and in PDAC and CP tissue samples. Epiregulin mRNA was present at high (MIA-PaCa-2 cells) or moderate levels (ASPC-1, CAPAN-1, and T3M4) in most cells, but was below detection levels in PANC-1 cells. All the cell lines exhibited a dose-dependent increase in growth in response to recombinant human epiregulin, Epiregulin mRNA levels were increased 2.1-fold in PDAC samples (P <0.01) and 1.7-fold in CP samples (P <0.01), when compared with the normal controls. There was no correlation between epiregulin mRNA levels and tumor stage or grade. By in situ hybridization, a moderate to intense epiregulin mRNA signal was present in most pancreatic cancer cells in PDAC, In contrast, only a weak (normal pancreas) to moderate (CP) signals were present in the ductal and acinar cells in CP, These findings suggest that epiregulin may contribute to the pathobiology of PDAC, and may also have a role in CP, (C) 2000 Academic Press.
Overexpression of HER-2/ErbB-2, a homologue of the epidermal growth factor receptor, is associated with poor prognosis, and an ErbB-2-specific antibody is therapeutic when administered to patients with metastatic breast cancer. To understand the mechanism underlying immunotherapy, we concentrated on antibody- and epidermal growth factor-induced degradation of ErbB-2, We show that enhanced degradation is preceded by poly-ubiquitination of ErbB-2, This process necessitates recruitment of the c-Cbl ubiquitin ligase to tyrosine 1112 of ErbB-2. Consequently, mutagenesis of this site retards antibody-induced degradation, Thus, the therapeutic potential of certain antibodies mag be due to their ability to direct ErbB-2 to a c-Cbl-regulated proteolytic pathway.
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulates the growth of various types of cells via its cell surface tyrosine kinase receptor, The EGF receptor (EGF-R) has an oncogenic potential when overexpressed in a wide range of tumor cells. Geldanamycin (GA) and herbimycin (HA), specific inhibitors of the cytosolic chaperone HSP 90 and its endoplasmic reticulum homologue GRP 94, were shown to accelerate degradation of the EGF-R and of its homologue p185(c-erbB-2). Here we compared the effects of GA and HA on intracellular degradation and maturation of EGF-R. By using an inhibitor of proteasomal degradation, we learned that GA, but not HA, blocks processing of newly synthesized EGF-R, The effects of GA and HA on receptor degradation are mediated by the cytosolic portion of EGF-R and could be conferred to the erythropoietin receptor (EPO-R), by employing the respective chimera. Neither HA nor GA affected stability of newly synthesized EGF-R lacking the cytosolic domain (Ex EGF-R), but GA caused intracellular retention of this mutant. Taken together, our results imply that GA has two distinct targets of action on the EGF-R, one for promoting its degradation and another for mediating its intracellular retention. Apparently, degradation of the EGF-R mediated by GA or HA requires the presence of the EGF-R cytosolic domain, whereas intracellular retention in the presence of GA is coupled to the extracellular domain of the EGF-R.
Neuregulin can trigger morphogenetic signals in cells both in vivo and in culture through the activation of receptors from the ErbB family. We have ectopically expressed various ErbB-receptors in 32D myeloid cells lacking endogenous ErbB-proteins, and in CHO cells, which express only ErbB-2. We show here that activation of ErbB-3/ErbB-2 heterodimeric receptors triggers PI3-kinase-dependent lamellipodia formation and spreading, while individual ErbB-receptor homodimers as well as ErbB-3/ErbB-1 heterodimers are much less effective. CHO cells expressing ErB3/ErbB-2 together with N-cadherin, an adhesion receptor, form epithelioid colonies. Neuregulin activates cell motility leading to transition of these colonies into ring-shaped multicellular arrays, similar to those induced by neuregulin in epithelial cells of different types (Chausovsky et al., 1998), This process requires both PI3-kinase and MAP kinase kinase activity and depends on coordinated changes in the actin- and microtubule-based cytoskeleton. Transactivation of ErbB-2 is not sufficient for the activation of cell motility and ring formation, and the C-terminal domain of ErbB-3 bearing the docking sites for the p85 subunit of PI3-kinase is essential for these morphogenetic effects. Thus, ErbB-3 in conjunction with ErbB-2 mediates, via its C-terminal domain, cytoskeletal and adhesion alterations which activate cell spreading and motility, leading to the formation of complex structures such as multicellular rings.
The neu (c-erbB-2) proto-oncogene encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor that is overexpressed in 20 to 30% of human breast tumors. Herein, cyclin D1 protein levels were increased in mammary tumors induced by overexpression of wild-type Neu or activating mutants of Neu in transgenic mice and in MCF7 cells overexpressing transforming Neu, Analyses of 12 Neu mutants in MCF7 cells indicated important roles for specific C-terminal autophosphorylation sites and the extracellular domain in cyclin D1 promoter activation. Induction of cyclin D1 by NeuT involved Ras, Rac, Rho, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and p38, but not phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, NeuT induction of the cyclin D1 promoter required the E2F and Spl DNA binding sites and was inhibited by dominant negative E2F-1 or DP-1, Neu-induced transformation was inhibited by a cyclin D1 antisense or dominant negative E2F-1 construct in Rat-1 cells. Growth of NeuT-transformed mammary adenocarcinoma cells in nude mice was blocked by the cyclin D1 antisense construct. These results demonstrate that E2F-1 mediates a Neu-signaling cascade to cyclin D1 and identify cyclin D1 as a critical downstream target of neu-induced transformation.
Cancer chemoprevention trials can be directed at targeting established molecular mechanisms which contribute to neoplasia. One potential target is the ErbB/HER family of growth factor receptors with intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity. This group of four receptors mediates the action of multiple stromal ligands of the EGF/neuregulin family on the adjacent epithelium. Aberrant autocrine loops and overexpression of certain receptors, Especially ErbB-2 (also called HER2 or Neu), play a role in fixation and propagation of oncogenic mutations. Here we concentrate on ErbB-2 and epithelial cancer and discuss current and future therapeutic strategies that may limit cancer, particularly in patients who are at high risk after removal of the primary tumor. Because ErbB-2 acts as a shared co-receptor, and its heterodimers are relatively potent receptor combinations, it offers selectivity that spares other routes of signal transduction. Immunotherapy, as well as gene therapy and tyrosine kinase inhibitors specific to ErbB-2 may join the ranks of effective chemopreventive agents. J. Cell. Biochem. Suppl. 34:52-60, 2000. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Receptor desensitization is accomplished by accelerated endocytosis and degradation of ligand-receptor complexes. An in vitro reconstituted system indicates that Cbl adaptor proteins directly control downregulation of the receptor for the epidermal growth factor (EGFR) by recruiting ubiquitin-activating and -conjugating enzymes. We infer a sequential process initiated by autophosphorylation of EGFR at a previously identified lysosome-targeting motif that subsequently recruits Cbl. This is followed by tyrosine phosphorylation of c-Cbl at a site flanking its RING finger, which enables receptor ubiquitination and degradation. Whereas ail three members of the Cbl family can enhance ubiquitination, two oncogenic Cbl variants, whose RING fingers are defective and phosphorylation sites are missing, are unable to desensitize EGFR. Our study identifies Cbl proteins as components of the ubiquitin ligation machinery and implies that they similarly suppress many other signaling pathways.
Ligand-induced activation of surface receptors, including the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), is followed by a desensitization process involving endocytosis and receptor degradation. c-Cbl, a tyrosine phosphorylation substrate shared by several signaling pathways, accelerates desensitization by recruiting EGFR and increasing receptor polyubiquitination. Here we demonstrate that the RING type zinc finger of c-Cbl is essential for ubiquitination and subsequent desensitization of EGFR. Mutagenesis of a single cysteine residue impaired the ability of c-Cbl to enhance both downregulation and ubiquitination of EG;FR in living cells, although the mutant retained binding to the activated receptor. Consequently, the mutant form of c-Cbl acquired a dominant inhibitory function and lost the ability to inhibit signaling downstream to EGFR. In vitro reconstitution of EGFR ubiquitination implies that the RING finger plays an essential direct role in ubiquitin ligation. Our results attribute to the RING finger of c-Cbl a causative role in endocytic sorting of EGFR and desensitization of signal transduction.
Intracellular transport of newly synthesized and mature proteins via vesicles is controlled by a large group of proteins. Here we describe a ubiquitous rat protein-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi 30-kD protein (ERG30)-which shares structural characteristics with VAP-33, a 33-kD protein from Aplysia californica which was shown to interact with the synaptic protein VAMP. The transmembrane topology of the 30-kD ERG30 corresponds to a type II integral membrane protein, whose cytoplasmic NH2 terminus contains a predicted coiled-coil motif. We localized ERG30 to the ER and to pre-Golgi intermediates by biochemical and immunocytochemical methods. Consistent with a role in vesicular transport, anti-ERG30 antibodies specifically inhibit intra-Golgi transport in vitro, leading to significant accumulation of COPI-coated vesicles. It appears that ERG30 functions early in the secretory pathway, probably within the Golgi and between the Golgi and the ER.
Stem cell factor (SCF) and its tyrosine kinase receptor, c-Kit, play a crucial role in regulating migration and proliferation of melanoblasts, germ cells, and hemopoietic cell progenitors by activating a number of intracellular signaling molecules. Here we report that SCF stimulation of myeloid cells or fibroblasts ectopically expressing c-Kit induces physical association with and tyrosine phosphorylation of three signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) as follows: STAT1 alpha, STAT5A, and STAT5B. Other STAT proteins are not recruited upon SCF stimulation. Recruitment of STATs leads to their dimerization, nuclear translocation, and binding to specific promoter-responsive elements. Whereas STAT1 alpha, possibly in the form of homodimers, binds to the sis-inducible DNA element, STAT5 proteins, either as STAT5A/STAT5B or STAT5/STAT1 alpha heterodimers, bind to the prolactin-inducible element of the beta-casein promoter. The tyrosine kinase activity of Kit appears essential for STAT activation since a kinase-defective mutant lacking a kinase insert domain was inactive in STAT signaling. However, another mutant that lacked the carboxyl-terminal region retained STAT1 alpha activation and nuclear translocation but was unable to fully activate STATE proteins, although it mediated their transient phosphorylation, These results indicate that different intracellular domains of c-Kit are involved in activation of the various STAT proteins.
Signaling by the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family and the neuregulin group of ligands is mediated by four ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases, that form homo- and heterodimeric complexes. Paradoxically, the neuregulin receptor ErbB-3 is devoid of catalytic activity, but its heterodimerization with other ErbB-3, particularly the ligand-less ErbB-2 oncoprotein of carcinomas, reconstitutes superior mitogenic and transforming activities, To understand the underlying mechanism we constructed a chimeric EGF-receptor (ErbB-1) whose autophosphorylation C-terminal domain was replaced by the corresponding portion of ErbB-3, Consistent with the possibility that this domain recruits a relatively potent signaling pathway(s), the mitogenic signals generated by the recombinant fusion protein were superior to those generated by ErbB-1 homodimers and comparable to the proliferative activity of ErbB-2/ErbB-3 heterodimers. Upon ligand binding, the chimeric receptor recruited an ErbB-3-specific repertoire of signaling proteins, including Shc and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, but excluding the ErbB-1-specific substrate, phospholipase C gamma 1, Unlike ErbB-1, which is destined to lysosomal degradation through a mechanism that includes recruitment of c-Cbl and receptor poly-ubiquitination, the C-terminal tail of ErbB-3 shunted the chimeric protein to the ErbB-3-characteristic recycling pathway, These observations attribute the mitogenic superiority of ErbB-3 to its C-terminal tail and imply that the flanking kinase domain has lost catalytic activity in order to restrain the relatively potent signaling capability of the C-terminus.
The ErbB/HER family of receptor tyrosine kinases consists of four receptors that bind a large number of growth factor ligands sharing an epidermal growth factor- (EGF)-like motif, Whereas ErbB-1 binds seven different ligands whose prototype is EGF, the three families of neuregulins (NRGs) activate ErbB-3 and/or ErbB-4. Here we characterize a fourth neuregulin, NRG-4, that acts through ErbB-4. The predicted pro-NRG-4 is a transmembrane protein carrying a unique EGF-like motif and a short cytoplasmic domain. A synthetic peptide encompassing the full-length EGF-like domain can induce growth of interleukin-dependent cells ectopically expressing ErbB-4, but not cells expressing the other three ErbB proteins or their combinations. Consistent with specificity to ErbB-4, NRG-4 can displace an ErbB-4-bound NRG-1 and can activate signaling downstream of this receptor, Expression of NRG-4 mRNA was detected in the adult pancreas and weakly in muscle; other tissues displayed no detectable NRG-4 mRNA. The primary structure and the pattern of expression of NRG-4, together with the strict specificity of this growth factor to ErbB-4, suggest a physiological role distinct from that of the known ErbB ligands.
The erbB-2/HER2 oncogene is overexpressed in a significant fraction of human carcinomas of the breast, ovary, and lung in a manner that correlates with poor prognosis. Although the encoded protein resembles several receptors for growth factors, no high affinity ligand of ErbB-2 has so far been fully characterized. However, several lines of evidence have raised the possibility that ErbB-2 can augment signal transduction initiated by binding of certain growth factors to their direct receptors. Here, we contrasted these two models of ErbB-2 function: First, examination of a large series of epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like ligands and neuregulins, including virus-encoded ligands as well as related motifs derived from the precursor of EGF, failed to detect interactions with ErbB-2 when this protein,vas singly expressed. Second, by using antibodies that block inter-ErbB interactions and cells devoid of surface ErbB-2, we learned that signaling by all ligands examined, except those derived from the precursor of EGF, was enhanced by the oncoprotein. These results imply that ErbB-2 evolved as a shared receptor subunit of all ErbB-specific growth factors. Thus, oncogenicity of ErbB-2 in human epithelia may not rely on the existence of a specific ligand but rather on its ability to act as a coreceptor for multiple stroma-derived growth factors.
Neu differentiation factors (NDFs), or neuregulins, are epidermal growth factor-like growth factors which bind to two tyrosine kinase receptors, ErbB-3 and ErbB-4. The transcription of several genes is regulated by neuregulins, including genes encoding specific subunits of the acetylcholine receptor at the neuromuscular junction. Here, we have examined the promoter of the acetylcholine receptor epsilon subunit and delineated a minimal CA-rich sequence which mediates transcriptional activation by NDF (NDF-response element [NRE]). Using gel mobility shift analysis with an NRE oligonucleotide, we detected two complexes that are induced by treatment with neuregulin and other growth factors end identified Sp1, a constitutively expressed zinc finger phosphoprotein, as a component of one of these complexes. Phosphatase treatment, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and an in-gel kinase assay indicated that Sp1 is phosphorylated by a 60-kDa kinase in response to NDF-induced signals. Moreover, Sp1 seems to act downstream of all members of the ErbB family and thus may funnel the signaling of the ErbB network into the nucleus.
Cell-to-cell communication is an important facet of every biological system. Unlike metabolic pathways (e.g. glycolysis) that successively modify biological compounds to yield product molecules, signal transduction pathways are communication circuits that process information, rather than molecules, and culminate in the determination of cell fate. Some major steps involved in generation, transfer, processing and decoding of signals carried by various growth factors and cytokines have been elucidated and their wiring uncovered. Along with the realization that signaling pathways are primarily linear and vertical (from membrane to nucleus), examples of lateral interactions allowing crosstalk between vertical axes as well as feedback. regulation, are accumulating. Other emerging issues include the highly compartmentalized nature of intracellular signaling and the consequent role of protein translocation, the essential balance between signal amplification and stringent control, and the wealth of protein motifs acting as adaptor modules. Here we use the family of ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases and their EGF/neuregulin-type ligands to exemplify combinatorial signaling and its role in both inductive morphogenesis and epithelial cancer. Modeling the ErbB pathway as a layered neural-like network may help in clarifying many aspects of this and other interconnected and elaborate biological systems.
Ligand-induced down-regulation of two growth factor receptors, EGF receptor (ErbB-1) and ErbB-3, correlates with differential ability to recruit c-Cbl, whose invertebrate orthologs are negative regulators of ErbB. We report that ligand-induced degradation of internalized ErbB-1, but not ErbB-3, is mediated by transient mobilization of a minor fraction of c-Cbl into ErbB-1-containing endosomes. This recruitment depends on the receptor's tyrosine kinase activity and an intact carboxy-terminal region. The alternative fate is recycling of internalized ErbBs to the cell surface. Cbl-mediated receptor sorting involves covalent attachment of ubiquitin molecules, and subsequent lysosomal and proteasomal degradation. The oncogenic viral form of Cbl inhibits down-regulation by shunting endocytosed receptors to the recycling pathway. These results reveal an endosomal sorting machinery capable of controlling the fate, and, hence, signaling potency, of growth factor receptors.
Neuregulin, or neu differentiation factor, induces cell proliferation or differentiation through interaction with members of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases. We report that neuregulin can also induce profound morphogenic responses in cultured epithelial cells of different origins. These effects include scattering of small epithelial islands and rearrangement of larger cell islands into ordered ring-shaped arrays with internal lumens. The ring-forming cells are interconnected by cadherin- and beta-catenin-containing adherens junctions. In confluent cultures, neuregulin treatment induces formation of circular lumenlike gaps in the monolayer. Both cell scattering and ring formation are accompanied by a marked increase in cell motility that is independent of hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor and its receptor (c-Met). Affinity-labeling experiments implied that a combination of ErbB-2 with ErbB-3 mediates the morphogenic signal of neuregulin in gastric cells. Indeed, a similar morphogenic effect could be reconstituted in nonresponsive cells by coexpression of ErbB-2 and -3. We conclude that a heterodimer between the kinase-defective neuregulin receptor, ErbB-3, and the coreceptor, ErbB-2, mediates the morphogenetic action of neuregulin.
Virulence of poxviruses, the causative agents of smallpox, depends on virus-encoded growth factors related to the mammalian epidermal growth factor (EGF), Here we report that the growth factors of Shope fibroma virus, Myxoma virus and vaccinia virus (SFGF, MGF and VGF) display unique patterns of specificity to ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases; whereas SFGF is a broad-specificity ligand, VGF binds primarily to ErbB-1 homodimers, and the exclusive receptor for MGF is a heterodimer comprised of ErbB-2 and ErbB3. In spite of 10- to 1000-fold lower binding affinity to their respective receptors, the viral ligands are mitogenically equivalent or even more potent than their mammalian counterparts. This remarkable enhancement of cell growth is due to attenuation of receptor degradation and ubiquitination, which leads to sustained signal transduction, Our results imply that signal potentiation and precise targeting to specific receptor combinations contribute to cell transformation at sites of poxvirus infection, and they underscore the importance of the often ignored low-affinity ligand-receptor interactions.
The recently isolated second family of neuregulins, NRG2, shares its primary receptors, ErbB-3 and ErbB-4, and induction of mammary cell differentiation with NRG1 isoforms, suggesting functional redundancy of the two growth factor families. To address this possibility, we analyzed receptor specificity of NRGs by using an engineered cellular system. The activity of isoform-specific but partly overlapping patterns of specificities that collectively activate all eight ligand-stimulatable ErbB dimers was revealed. Specifically, NRG2-beta, like NRG1-alpha, emerges as a narrow-specificity ligand, whereas NRG2-alpha is a pan-ErbB ligand that binds with different affinities to all receptor combinations, including those containing ErbB-1, but excluding homodimers of ErbB-2. The latter protein, however, displayed cooperativity with the direct NRG receptors. Apparently, signaling by all NRGs is funneled through the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). However, the duration and potency of MAPK activation depend on the identity of the stimulatory ligand-receptor ternary complex. We conclude that the NRG-ErbB network represents a complex and nonredundant machinery developed for fine-tuning of signal transduction.
Both homo- and hetero-dimers of ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases mediate signaling by a large group of epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like ligands. However, some ligands are more potent than others, although they bind to the same direct receptor. In addition, signaling by receptor heterodimers is superior to homodimers, We addressed the mechanism underlying these two features of signal tuning by using three ligands: EGF; transforming growth factor alpha (TGF alpha); and their chimera, denoted E4T, which act on cells singly expressing ErbB-1 as a weak, a strong, and a very strong agonist, respectively, Co-expression of ErbB-2, a developmentally important co-receptor whose expression is frequently elevated in human cancers, specifically potentiated EGF signaling to the level achieved by TGF alpha, an effect that was partially mimicked by ErbB-3, Analysis of the mechanism underlying this trans-potentiation implied that EGF-driven homodimers of ErbB-1 are destined for intracellular degradation, whereas the corresponding heterodimers with ErbB-2 or,vith ErbB-3, dissociate in the early endosome, As a consequence, in the presence of either co-receptor, ErbB-1 is recycled to the cell surface and its signaling is enhanced, This latter route is followed by TGF alpha-driven homodimers of ErbB-1, and also by E4T-bound receptors, whose signaling is further enhanced by repeated cycles of binding and dissociation from the receptors. We conclude that alternative endocytic routes of homo- and hetero-dimeric receptor complexes may contribute to tuning and diversification of signal transduction. In addition, the ability of ErbB-2 to shunt ligand-activated receptors to recycling may explain, in part, its oncogenic potential.
The ErbB signaling module consists of four receptor tyrosine kinases and several dozen ligands that activate specific homo-and heterodimeric complexes of ErbB proteins. Combinatorial ligand/receptor/effector interactions allow large potential for signal diversification. Here we addressed the possibility that turn-off mechanisms enhance the diversification potential. Concentrating on ErbB-1 and two of its ligands, epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha), and the Neu differentiation factor (NDF/neuregulin) and one of its receptors, ErbB-3, we show that ligand binding variably accelerates endocytosis of the respective ligand-receptor complex. However, unlike the EGF-activated ErbB-1, which is destined primarily to degradation in lysosomes, NDF and TGF-alpha direct their receptors to recycling, probably because these ligands dissociate from their receptors earlier along the endocytic pathway. In the case of NDF, structural, as well as biochemical, analyses imply that ligand degradation occurs at a relatively late endosomal stage. Attenuation of receptor down-regulation by this mechanism apparently confers to both NDF and TGF-alpha more potent and prolonged signaling activity. In conclusion, alternative endocytic trafficking of ligand-ErbB complexes may tune and diversify signal transduction by EGF family ligands.
The ErbB-1 receptor tyrosine kinase binds to six different growth factors, whose prototype is the epidermal growth factor (EGF). Two homologous epithelial receptors, ErbB-3 and ErbB-4, bind all isoforms of another family of growth factors, the Neu differentiation factors (NDFs/neuregulins). The fourth member of the ErbB family, ErbB-2, acts as the preferred heterodimeric partner of ligand-occupied complexes of the three other ErbB proteins. Here we report that at high concentrations, EGF can induce cell growth and differentiation in the absence of ErbB-1. This function is shared by betacellulin, but not by three other ligands, including the transforming growth factor alpha (TGF alpha). The functional receptor was identified as a heterodimer between ErbB-3 and ErbB-2, a previously identified oncogenic complex, When singly expressed, neither ErbB-3 nor ErbB-2 can mediate signaling by EGF. In addition, when co-expressed, blocking either receptor by using site-specific antibodies inhibited EGF and betacellulin activities, indicating strict cooperativity between ErbB-3 and ErbB-2, Through analysis of chimeras between EGF and TGF alpha, we identified the middle portion of EGF (loop B) as the site that enables activation of ErbB-2/ErbB-3. In conclusion, cooperative and promiscuous binding of stroma-derived growth factors by the epithelium-expressed ErbB-2/ErbB-3 heterodimer may be significant to cancer development. The mechanistic implications of our results for a model that attributes receptor dimerization to ligand bivalency, as well as to a recently proposed mechanism of secondary dimerization, are discussed.
Substantial evidence exists supporting direct roles for ErbB-2/neu and Src kinase activation in breast cancer, The Csk homologous kinase (CHK) is a recently identified tyrosine kinase which, like Csk, phosphorylates the C-terminal tyrosine of Src kinases, resulting in inactivation of these enzymes, Recently, we observed that CHK is associated with the ErbB-2/neu receptor upon heregulin stimulation of breast cancer cells, Here, we report that CHK expression was observed in 70 out of 80 primary breast cancer specimens but not in normal breast tissues (0/19), Confocal microscopy analysis revealed colocalization of CHK with ErbB-2 in these primary specimens (6/6), In addition, we observed that the cytoplasmic domain of the ErbB-2/neu receptor is sufficient for its interaction with the CHKSH2 domain, Phosphopeptide inhibition of the in vitro interaction of CHKSH2 or native CHK with ErbB-2/neu, as well as site-directed mutagenesis of ErbB-2/neu, indicated that CHKSH2 binds to Tyr(1253) of ErbB-2/neu, Interestingly, autophosphorylation at this site confers oncogenicity to this receptor, Moreover, CHK was able to down-regulate ErbB-2/neu-activated Src kinases, Overexpression of CHK in MCF-7 breast cancer cells markedly inhibited cell growth and proliferative response to heregulin as well as decreased colony formation in soft agar, These studies indicate that CHK binds, via its SH2 domain, to Tyr(1253) Of the activated ErbB-2/neu and down-regulates the ErbB-2/neu-mediated activation of Src kinases, thereby inhibiting breast cancer cell growth, These data strongly suggest that CHK is a novel negative growth regulator in human breast cancer.
Neu differentiation factor (NDF/neuregulin) is widely expressed in the central and peripheral nervous systems, where it functions as a mediator of the interactions between nerve cells and Schwann, glia, oligodendrocyte, and muscle cells, to control cellular proliferation, differentiation, and migration. NDF binds to two receptor tyrosine kinases, ErbB-3 and ErbB-4. Here we demonstrate that NDF and its ErbB-4 receptor are highly reactive to changes in ambient neuronal activity in the rodent brain in a region-selective manner. Generation of epileptic seizures by using kainic acid, a potent glutamate analog, elevated levels of NDF transcripts in limbic cortical areas, hippocampus, and amygdala. Concomitantly, ErbB-4 mRNA nas increased with a similar spatial distribution, but transcription of the other NDF receptor, ErbB-3, did not change. A more moderate stimulation, forced locomotion, was accompanied by an increase in NDF transcripts and protein in the hippocampus and in the motor cortex. Similar changes were found with ErbB-4, but not ErbB-3. Last, a pathway-specific tetanic stimulation of the perforant path, which produced long-term potentiation, was followed by induction of NDF expression in the ipsilateral dentate gyrus and CA3 area of the hippocampus. Taken together, these results indicate that NDF is regulated by physiological activity and may play a role in neural plasticity.
Two receptor tyrosine kinases, ErB-3 and ErbB-4, mediate signaling by Neu differentiation factors (NDFs, also called neuregulins), while ErbB-1 and ErbB-2 serve as co-receptors, We show that the two NDF/neuregulin differ in spatial and temporal expression The kinase-defective receptor, ErbB-3, is expressed primarily in epithelial layers of various organs, in the peripheral nervous system, and in adult brain, whereas ErbB-4 is restricted to the developing central nervous system and to the embryonic heart, An example of alternating expression of the two receptors is provided by the developing cerebellum: During postnatal cerebellar development, ErbB-4 expression slightly decreases along with a decline in NDF transcription, whereas ErbB-3 expression commences after the peak of neurogenesis, To study functional differences, we established primary brain cultures and found that ErbB-3 was expressed only in oligodendrocytes, whereas ErbB-4 expression was shared by oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and neurons, Blocking the action of endogenous NDF in vitro, by using a soluble form of ErbB-4, accelerated neurite outgrowth in both primary cultures and in neuronal-type cultures of the P19 teratocarcinoma, suggesting an inhibitory effect of NDF on neural differentiation, Apparently, ErbB-3 is associated with proliferation of P19 cells, whereas ErbB-4 correlates with a differentiated phenotype, We conclude that the two NDF receptors play distinct, rather than redundant, developmental and physiological roles.
Signaling by epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like ligands is mediated by an interactive network of four ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases, whose mechanism of ligand-induced dimerization is unknown. We contrasted two existing models: a conformation-driven activation of a receptor-intrinsic dimerization site and a ligand bivalence model, Analysis of a Neu differentiation factor (NDF)-induced heterodimer between ErbB-3 and ErbB-2 favors a bivalence model; the ligand simultaneously binds both ErbB-3 and ErbB-2, but, due to low-affinity of the second binding event, ligand bivalence drives dimerization only when the receptors are membrane anchored, Results obtained with a chimera and isoforms of NDF/neuregulin predict that each terminus of the ligand molecule contains a distinct binding site, The C-terminal low-affinity site has broad specificity, but it prefers interaction with ErbB-2, an oncogenic protein acting as a promiscuous low-affinity subunit of the three primary receptors, Thus, ligand bivalence enables signal diversification through selective recruitment of home-and heterodimers of ErbB receptors, and it may explain oncogenicity of erbB-2/HER2.
Ligand-induced activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) results in the initiation of diverse cellular pathways, including proliferation, differentiation and cell migration. The ErbB family of RTKs represents a model for signal diversification through the formation of homo- and heterodimeric receptor complexes. Each dimeric receptor complex will initiate a distinct signaling pathway by recruiting a different set of Src homology 2- (SH2-) containing effector proteins. Further complexity is added due to the existence of an oncogenic receptor that enhances and stabilizes dimerization but has no ligand (ErbB-2), and a receptor that can recruit novel SH-2-containing proteins, but is itself devoid of kinase activity (ErbB-3). The resulting signaling network has important implications for embryonic development and malignant transformation. (C) 1997 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.
ErbB-2 is an orphan receptor that belongs to a family of tyrosine kinase receptors for either epidermal growth factor (EGF) or Neu differentiation factor (NDF/ neuregulin), Because overexpression of the erbB-2 proto-oncogene is frequently associated with an aggressive clinical course of certain human adenocarcinomas, the encoded protein is an attractive target for immunotherapy. Indeed, certain monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to ErbB-2 effectively inhibit tumor growth in animal models and in clinical trials, but the underlying mechanism is incompletely understood. To study this question, we generated a large battery of mAbs to ErbB-2, that were classified epitopically, Whereas most antibodies stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of ErbB-2, their anti-tumor effect correlated with its accelerated endocytic degradation, One group of tumor-inhibitory mAbs (Class II mAbs) was elicited by the most antigenic site of ErbB-2, and inhibited in trans binding of NDF and EGF to their direct receptors. The inhibitory effect was due to acceleration of ligand dissociation, and it resulted in the reduction of the ability of ErbB-2 to transactivate the mitogenic signals of NDF and EGF, These results identify two potential mechanisms of antibody-induced therapy: acceleration of ErbB-2 endocytosis by homodimerization and blocking of heterodimerization between ErbB-2 and growth factor receptors.
The ErbB/HER family of transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases includes four members that bind more than two dozens ligands sharing an epidermal growth factor- (EGF)(3) like motif. This family plays a pivotal role in cell lineage determination in a variety of tissues, including mesenchyme-epithelial inductive processes and the interactions between neurons and muscle, glia and Schwann cells. Certain ligands and receptors of the family, especially the ErbB-2 receptor tyrosine kinase, contribute to a relatively virulent phenotype of some human tumors; most notable are carcinomas of secretory epithelia. This large variety of biological signals is generated through a combinatorial network of signal transduction in which different ErbB ligands are apparently capable of stabilizing discrete homo- and heterodimeric receptor complexes, each coupled to a specific set of cytoplasmic signaling proteins. Because each receptor is unique in terms of catalytic activity, cellular routing and transmodulation, the resulting network allows not only an enormous potential for signal diversification but also fine tuning and stringent control of cellular functions. ErbB-2 emerges as a master coordinator of the network, prolonging and amplifying signaling by decelerating the dissociation rates of its heterologous ligands. Thus, the tumorigenic action of ErbB-2 may be attributed to its ability to act as a shared signaling subunit, rather than by functioning as a bone fide receptor.
Long-circulating (stealth) liposomes coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG), which show reduced uptake by the reticuloendothelial system (RES) and enhanced accumulation in tumours, were used for conjugation to monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) as a drug-targeting device. A MAb (N-12A5) directed against erbB-2 oncoprotein, a functional surface antigen, was used. Amplification and overexpression of the erbB-2 gene product, being unique to malignancy confer onto this antibody-mediated therapy high tumour specificity. In vitro binding of [H-3]cholesteryl ether ([H-3]Chol ether) labelled anti-erbB-2 conjugated liposomes to N-87 cells (erbB-2-positive human gastric carcinoma) was compared with the binding of non-targeted liposomes and indicated a 16-fold increase in binding for the targeted liposomes. No difference in binding to OV1063 cells (erbB-2-negative human ovary carcinoma) was observed. These results indicate highly selective binding of antibody-targeted liposomes to erbB-2-overexpressing cells. Despite increased cell binding, doxorubicin (DOX) loaded in anti-erbB-2-conjugated liposomes did not cause increased in vitro cytotoxicity against N-87 cells, suggesting lack of liposome internalisation, In vivo, the critical factor needed to decrease the non-specific RES uptake and prolong the circulation time of antibody-conjugated liposomes is a low protein to phospholipid ratio (<60 mu g mu mol(-1)). Using these optimised liposome preparations loaded with DOX and by monitoring the drug levels and the [H-3]Chol ether label, biodistribution studies in nude mice bearing subcutaneous implants of N-87 tumours were carried out. No significant differences in liver and spleen uptake between antibody-conjugated and plain liposomes were observed. Nevertheless, there was no enhancement of tumour liposome levels over plain liposomes. Both liposome preparations considerably enhanced DOX concentration in the tumour compared with free drug administration. Therapeutic experiments with N
The ErbB family includes four homologous transmembrane tyrosine kinases. Whereas ErbB-1 binds to the epidermal growth factor (EGF), both ErbB3 and ErbB-4 bind to the Neu differentiation factors (NDFs, or neuregulins), and ErbB-2, the most oncogenic family member, is an orphan receptor whose function is still unknown. Because previous lines of evidence indicated the existence? of interreceptor interactions, we used ectopic expression of individual ErbB proteins and their combinations to analyze the details of receptor cross talks. We show that 8 of 10 possible homo- and heterodimeric complexes of ErbB proteins call be hierarchically induced by ligand binding, Although ErbB-2 binds neither ligand, even in a heterodimeric receptor complex, it is the preferred heterodimer partner of the three other members, and it favors interaction with ErbB-3. Selective receptor overexpression in human tumor cells appears to bias the hierarchical relationships. The ordered network is reflected in receptor transphosphorylation, ErbE-2-mediated enhancement of ligand affinities, and remarkable potentiation of mitogenesis by a coexpressed ErbB-2. The observed superior ability of ErbB-2 to form heterodimers, in conjunction with its uniquely high basal tyrosine kinase activity, mag explain why ErbB-2 overexpression is associated with poor prognosis.
BACKGROUND. Previous work has shown that enhanced growth potential of malignant astrocytomas correlates with increased expression of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases. The functional implications of increased receptor expression were addressed by analyzing possible accumulation of phosphotyrosyl proteins in neoplastic and nonneoplastic astrocytic proliferative processes. The results were compared with the expression of Neu receptor protein (also called ErbB-2 or HER-2). METHODS. Western immunoblots and immunocytochemistry were utilized to evaluate glioma and carcinoma cell lines, neonatal astrocytic cultures, and human brain biopsies of graded gliosis and astrocytomas. The effects of three tyrosine kinase inhibitors on H-3-thymidine uptake and cell proliferation and viability were examined in cultured glioma cells. RESULTS. Phosphotyrosine was conspicuously elevated in all three grades of astrocytoma, but remained at low levels in nonneoplastic astrocytic proliferations. Dose-dependent decreases in DNA synthesis and proliferation of cultured glioma cells occurred after inhibition of tyrosine kinase. Neu receptor protein showed increased expression in malignant astrocytomas (including glioblastomas) and severe reactive gliosis. CONCLUSIONS. Upregulation of tyrosyl protein phosphorylation enables differentiation of neoplastic from nonneoplastic astrocytic proliferative states. Inhibition of this phosphorylation impairs growth of glioma cells. Increased Neu receptor protein expression can distinguish malignant from low grade astrocytomas. We speculate that genetic events leading to stably increased phosphotyrosine may be critical for neoplastic transformation of astrocytes, whereas increased receptor tyrosine kinase expression could be a factor in the aggressive growth associated with malignancy. (C) 1996 American Cancer Society.
Interleukin-3 (IL-3) stimulates in vitro blast cell proliferation in a consistent proportion of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cases, however the degree of response varies from case to case and it is not related to the FAB subtype or to other clinical parameters, IL-3-induced proliferation of myeloid cells is mediated by the interaction with an heterodimeric receptor (IL-3R) comprised of a ligand binding subunit denoted alpha and a common transducing subunit designated as beta (beta(c)). Ligand binding to the receptor activates a number of signaling molecules including proteins of the STATs (signal transducing and activators of transcription) family, To elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the abnormal proliferative response of AML cells to IL-3, we evaluated, both in the IL-3-dependent M-07e cell line and in 20 AML cases, the activation of STAT1 p91 and its association with the beta(c) subunit, On the basis of the in vitro proliferation assay, 11 out of 20 cases were found to be responsive to IL-3 and eight out of 16 to GM-CSF, Our results demonstrated that in M-07e cells and in six AML cases (five IL-3 responsive and one unresponsive) p91 tyrosine phosphorylation was ligand dependent, Ligand independent p91 tyrosine phosphorylation was detected in 10 AML cases (five responsive and five unresponsive), p91 association with the beta(c) subunit was consistent with its ligand dependent activation and with the ability to form a DNA-binding complex containing p91, In the remaining four cases (three unresponsive and one responsive) no p91 tyrosine phosphorylation and/or association were detected, These findings, together with the observation that in five IL-3 responsive cases p91 was constitutively phosphorylated, suggest that IL-3-mediated AML proliferation is only partially sustained by p91 activation and that other post-receptor molecules are required to achieve maximal proliferative response, Moreover structural abnormalities of the receptor or of post-receptor s
The multiple isoforms of Neu differentiation factor (NDF/neuregulin) induce a pleiotropic cellular response that is isoform-specific and cell type-dependent. The molecular basis of this heterogeneity was addressed by comparing the two major groups of isoforms, alpha and beta. Both groups bind to the catalytically impaired receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB-3, whose mitogenic stimulation by NDF requires transactivation by other ErbB proteins, either ErbB-1 or ErbB-2. By expressing each pair of receptors in interleukin S-dependent myeloid cells, we found that both isoforms induced mitogenic signals in cells co-expressing the combination of ErbB-3 with ErbB-2. However, only the beta isoform stimulated cells that expressed both ErbB-3 and ErbB-1, and neither isoform was active on cells expressing ErbB-3 alone. Both isoforms bind to all ErbB-3-expressing cells, albeit with different affinities, but the co-stimulatory mitogenic effect is correlated with the ability of each auxiliary receptor to transphosphorylate ErbB-3. These results imply that NDF isoforms differ in their ability to induce receptor heterodimers; whereas both types of isoforms signal through ErbB-3/ErbB-2 heterodimers, only beta isoforms are able to stabilize ErbB-3/ErbB-1 heterodimers.
Previously we reported that neu differentiation factor (NDF)/heregulin (HRG) elevates tyrosine phosphorylation of its receptors erbB-3, erbB-4, and erbB-2 (through heterodimer formation). We also showed that both NDF/HRG and antibodies to erbB-2 can arrest growth and induce differentiation in breast cancer cells. In this study, we report on the mechanism of NDF/HRG-induced cellular effects. We show that NDF/HRG and antibodies to erbB-2 receptors up-regulate expression of p53 by stabilizing the protein. This is accompanied by upregulation of the p53 inducible gene, p21(CIP1/WAF1), in a variety of cell lines: MCF7 and their derivatives (MCF7/HER2, MN1 and MCF-7-puro), ZR75T and LnCap cells, The induction of p21 is further enhanced when cells are treated with both NDF/HRG and DNA-damaging chemotherapeutic agents (i.e. doxorubicin). The NDF/HRG mediated induction of p21 is dependent on wildtype p53, as it fails to occur in cells expressing dominant negative p53 (MDD2). Furthermore, p21 induction is capable of inactivating cdk2 complexes as measured by Histone H1 phosphorylation assays. Finally, we show that in primary cultures of breast and other cancers, p21 is significantly induced in response to NDF/HRG treatment. Collectively, these observations suggest that the mechanism of breast cancer cell growth inhibition and differentiation via erbB receptors activation is through a p53-mediated pathway.
The ErbB family includes two receptors, ErbB-1 and ErbB-3, that respectively bind to epidermal growth factor and Neu differentiation factor, and an orphan receptor, ErbB-2. Unlike ErbB-1 and ErbB-2, the intrinsic tyrosine kinase of ErbB-3 is catalytically impaired. By using interleukin-3-dependent cells that ectopically express the three ErbB proteins or their combinations, we found that ErbB-3 is devoid of any biological activity but both ErbB-1 and ErbB-2 can reconstitute its extremely potent mitogenic activity. Transactivation of ErbB-3 correlates with heterodimer formation and is reflected in receptor phosphorylation and the transregulation of ligand affinity, Inter-receptor interactions enable graded proliferative and survival signals: heterodimers are more potent than homodimers, and ErbB-3-containing complexes, especially the ErbB-2/ErbB-3 heterodimer, are more active than ErbB-1 complexes, Nevertheless, ErbB-1 signaling displays dominance over ErbB-3 when the two receptors are coexpressed. Although all receptor combinations activate the mitogen-activated protein kinases ERK and c-Jun kinase, they differ in their rate of endocytosis and in coupling to intervening signaling proteins, It is conceivable that combinatorial receptor interactions diversify signal transduction and confer double regulation, in cis and in trans, of the superior mitogenic activity of the kinase-defective ErbB-3.
The group of subtype I transmembrane tyrosine kinases includes the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (ErbB-1), an orphan receptor (ErbB-2), and two receptors for the Neu differentiation factor (NDF/heregulin), namely: ErbB-3 and ErbB-4, Here we addressed the distinct functions of the two NDF receptors by using an immunological approach. Two sets of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to ErbB-3 and ErbB-4 were generated through immunization with recombinant ectodomains of the corresponding receptors that were fused to immunoglobulin. We found that the shared ligand binds to highly immunogenic, but immunologically distinct sites of ErbB-3 and ErbB-4. NDF receptors differed also in their kinase activities; whereas the catalytic activity of ErbB-4 was activable by mAbs, ErbB-3 underwent no activation by mAbs in living cells. Likewise, down-regulation of ErbB-4, but not ErbB-3, was induced by certain mAbs. By using the generated mAbs, we found that the major NDF receptor on mammary epithelial cells is a heterodimer of ErbB-3 with ErbB-2, whereas an ErbB-1/ErbB-2 heterodimer, or an ErbB-1 homodimer, is the predominant species that binds EGF. Consistent with ErbB-2 being a shared receptor subunit, its tyrosine phosphorylation was increased by both heterologous ligands and it mediated a trans-inhibitory effect of NDF on EGF binding. Last, we show that the effect of NDF on differentiation of breast tumor cells can be mimicked by anti-ErbB-4 antibodies, but not by mAbs to ErbB-3. Nevertheless, an ErbB-3-specific mAb partially inhibited the effect of NDF on cellular differentiation. These results suggest that homodimers of ErbB-4 are biologically active, but heterodimerization of the kinase-defective ErbB-3, probably with ErbB-2, is essential for transmission of NDF signals through ErbB-3.
The ErbB family of transmembrane tyrosine kinases includes the receptor for EGF (ErbB-1), two receptors for NDF/heregulin (ErbB-3 and ErbB-4) and an orphan receptor (ErbB-2). In order to examine the possibility that distinct signal transduction pathways are coupled to each ErbB protein, we examined the interaction of individual ligand-stimulated receptors with the c-Cbl protein, a protooncogene-encoded signaling molecule previously identified in hematopoietic cells. We report that c-Cbl undergoes rapid and sustained phosphorylation on tyrosine residues upon stimulation of fibroblast and epithelial cell lines with ligands of ErbB-1. By contrast, activation of either ErbB-3 or ErbB-4 by NDF did not affect tyrosine phosphorylation of c-Cbl. Likewise, activation of a chimeric ligand-stimulatable ErbB-2 by a heterologous ligand was ineffective. Despite rapidity of the EGF effect, we observed no association of c-Cbl with activated ErbB-1, implying that the interaction is indirect. Our in vitro experiments suggest that a candidate mediator of the interaction is the Grb-2/Ash adaptor protein, which is constitutively bound to c-Cbl. These results indicate that different ErbB proteins can couple to distinct signaling pathways, and therefore their physiological functions are probably non-redundant.
Heregulin beta 1 was found to stimulate the anchorage-dependent, serum-free growth of nontransformed human MCF-10A mammary epithelial cells. Unlike epidermal growth factor, transforming growth factor alpha, or amphiregulin, heregulin beta 1 was also able to induce the anchorage-independent growth of MCF-10A cells. In contrast, the anchorage-dependent, serum-free growth of c-Ha-ras or c-erb B-2 transformed MCF-10A cells was unaffected by heregulin beta 1, whereas heregulin beta 1 was able to stimulate the anchorage-independent growth of these cells. c-Ha-ras or c-erb B-2 (c-neu) transformed MCF-10A or mouse NOG-8 mammary epithelial cells express elevated levels of 2.5, 5.0, 6.5, 6.8, and 8.5 kb heregulin mRNA transcripts and/or synthesize cell-associated 25, 29, 50, and 115 kDa isoforms of heregulin. Since the MCF-10A cells and transformants also express c-erb B-3, these data suggest that endogenous heregulin might function as an autocrine growth factor for Ha-ras or erb B-2 transformed mammary epithelial cells. (C) 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.*
Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), supports proliferation, differentiation, and functional activation of hemopoietic cells by its interaction with a heterodimeric receptor. Although GM-CSF receptor is devoid of tyrosine kinase enzymatic activity, GM-CSF-induced peripheral blood polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) functional activation is mediated by the phosphorylation of a large number of intracellular signaling molecules. We have previously shown that JAK2 becomes tyrosine-phosphorylated in response to GM-CSF in PMN. In the present study we demonstrate that also the signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) family members STAT1 p91 and STAT3 p92 and the product of the c-fps/fes protooncogene become tyrosine-phosphorylated upon GM-CSF stimulation and physically associated with both GM-CSF receptor beta common subunit and JAK2. Moreover GM-CSF was able to induce JAK2 and p93(fes) catalytic activity. We also demonstrate that the association of the GM-CSF receptor beta common subunit with JAK2 is ligand-dependent. Finally we demonstrate that GM-CSF induces a DNA-binding complex that contains both p91 and p92, These results identify a new signal transduction pathway activated by GM-CSF and provide a mechanism for rapid activation of gene expression in GM-CSF-stimulated PMN.
The neu/erbB-2/HER-2 proto-oncogene is amplified and/or overexpressed in up to 30% of mammary carcinomas and has been variably correlated with poor prognosis. The signaling activity, of the encoded receptor tyrosine kinase is regulated by interactions with other type 1 receptors and their ligands. We have used a novel approach, phosphorylation-sensitive anti-Neu antibodies, to quantify signaling by Neu and epidermal growth factor receptor in a panel of frozen sections of mammary carcinoma specimens. We also determined the relationship of Neu, phosphorylated Neu (and epidermal growth factor receptor), and phosphotyrosine to the expression of Neu-related receptors (epidermal growth factor receptor, HER-3, and HER-4) and to prognostic factors (estrogen and progesterone one receptor). We found that tyrosine phosphorylation of Neu (and hence signaling activity) is highly variable among mammary carcinomas. Neu and HER-4 were associated with divergent correlates, suggesting that they have profoundly different biological activities. These results have implications for etiology of mammary carcinoma, for clinical evaluation of mammary carcinoma patients, and for development of Neu-targeted therapeutic strategies.
Overexpression of the erbB-2 gene contributes to aggressive behavior of various human adenocarcinomas, including breast cancer, through an unknown molecular mechanism, The erbB-2-encoded protein is a member of the ErbB family of growth factor receptors, but no direct Ligand of ErbB-2 has been reported, We show that in various cells ErbB-2 can form heterodimers with both EGF receptor (ErbB-1) and NDF receptors (ErbB-3 and ErbB-4), suggesting that it mag affect the action of heterologous ligands without the involvement of a direct ErbB-2 ligand, This possibility was addressed in breast cancer cells through either overexpression of ErbB-2 or by blocking its delivery to the cell surface by means of an endoplasmic reticulum-trapped antibody We report that ErbB-2 overexpression enhanced binding affinities to both EGF and NDF, through deceleration of ligand dissociation rates, Likewise, removal of ErbB-2 from the cell surface almost completely abolished ligand binding by accelerating dissociation of both growth factors, The kinetic effects resulted in enhancement and prolongation of the stimulation of two major cytoplasmic signaling pathways, namely: MAP kinase (EPK) and c-Jun kinase (SAPK), by either ligand. Our results imply that ErbB-2 is a pan-ErbB subunit of the high affinity heterodimeric receptors for NDF and EGF, Therefore, the oncogenic action of ErbB-2 in human cancers may be due to its ability to potentiate in trans growth factor signaling.
Neu differentiation factor (NDF)-induced signaling involves the activation of members of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases, Although ectopic expression of recombinant ErbB receptors has yielded valuable insight into their signaling properties, the biological function and in vivo interplay of these receptors are still poorly understood. We addressed this issue by studying NDF signaling in various human cell lines expressing moderate levels of all known ErbB receptors. NDF-induced phosphorylation of ErbB-2 and ErbB-3 was found in the breast epithelial cell line MCF10A, the breast tumor cell lines T47D and MCF7, and the ovarian tumor cell line OVCAR3. Despite similar expression levels, NDF-induced phosphorylation of ErbB-4 was cell specific and only detected in T47D and OVCAR3 cells, Blocking cell surface expression of ErbB-2 by intracellular expression of a single-chain antibody revealed that in these two cell lines, ErbB-2 significantly enhanced phosphorylation of ErbB-4. Efficient NDF-induced phosphorylation of ErbB-3 was strictly ErbB-2 dependent in the breast tumor cell lines T47D and MCF7, while it,vas largely ErbB-2 independent in MCF10A and OVCAR3 cells. Consequently, NDF-stimulated intracellular signaling and induction of a biological response displayed a cell-specific requirement for ErbB-2, Thus, while ErbB-2 cooperates with NDF receptors in the breast tumor cell lines, ErbB-2 independent mechanisms seem to prevail in other cellular contexts.
We show that beta forms of Neu differentiation factor (NDF), homologous to acetylcholine receptor-inducing activity, glial growth factor, and heregulin, prevent apoptotic death and stimulate DNA synthesis of the E14 Schwann cell precursor, an early cell in the rat Schwann cell lineage. When precursors are exposed to NDF in defined medium, they generate Schwann cells without the requirement for DNA synthesis and with a time course that is similar to that with which Schwann cells appear in embryonic nerves in vivo. Furthermore, a neuronal signal that also mediates precursor survival and maturation is blocked by the extracellular domain of the ErbB4 NDF receptor, a protein that specifically blocks the action of NDFs. These observations provide important evidence that NDF is one of the hitherto elusive neuron-glia signaling molecules long proposed to regulate development in the Schwann cell lineage.
Amplification and overexpression of the erbB-2/neu protooncogene are frequently associated with aggressive clinical course of certain human adenocarcinomas, and therefore the encoded surface glycoprotein is considered a candidate target for immunotherapy. We previously generated a series of anti-ErbB-2 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that either accelerate or inhibit the tumorigenic growth of erbB-2-transformed murine fibroblasts. The present study extended this observation to a human tumor cell line grown as xenografts in athymic mice and addressed the biochemical differences between the two classes of mAbs. We show that the inhibitory effect is dominant in an antibody mixture, and it depends on antibody bivalency. By using radiolabeled mAbs we found that all of three tumor-inhibitory mAbs became rapidly inaccessible to acid treatment when incubated with tumor cells. However, a tumor-stimulatory mAb remained accessible to extracellular treatments, indicating that it did not undergo endocytosis. In addition, intracellular fragments of the inhibitory mAbs, but not of the stimulatory mAb, were observed. Electron microscopy of colloidal gold-antibody conjugates confirmed the absence of endocytosis of the stimulatory mAb but detected endocytic vesicles containing an inhibitory mAb. We conclude that acceleration of cell growth by ErbB-2 correlates with cell surface localization, whereas inhibition of tumor growth is associated with an intrinsic ability of anti-ErbB-2 mAbs to induce endocytosis. These conclusions are relevant to the selection of optimal mAbs for immunotherapy and may have implications for the mechanism of cellular transformation by an overexpressed erbB-2 gene.
Neu differentiation factor (NDF, or heregulin) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) are structurally related proteins that bind to distinct members of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases. Here we show that NDF inhibits EGF binding in a cell type-specific manner. The inhibitory effect is distinct from previously characterized mechanisms that involve protein kinase C and receptor internalization because it occurred at 4 degrees C and displayed reversibility. The extent of inhibition correlated with both receptor saturation and affinity of different NDF isoforms, and it was abolished upon overexpression of either EGF receptor or ErbB-2. Binding kinetics and equilibrium analyses indicated that NDF reduced the affinity, rather than the number, of EGF receptors, through an acceleration of the rate of ligand dissociation and deceleration of the association rate, On the basis of co-immunoprecipitation of EGF and NDF receptors, we attribute the inhibitory effect to the formation of receptor heterodimers. According to this model, EGF binding to NDF-occupied heterodimers is partially blocked. This model of negative trans-regulation within the ErbB family is relevant to other subgroups of receptor tyrosine kinases and may have physiological implications.
The family of Neu differentiation factors (NDFs, or heregulins) includes a dozen secreted glycoproteins, whose receptor binding domain displays two variants, alpha and beta, and they bind to two receptor tyrosine kinases, ErbB3 and ErbB-4. Certain isoforms were reported to induce growth-arrest and differentiation of mammary tumor cells, while other breast cancer cell lines responded mitogenically, The present study addressed the biologic effects of various NDF isoforms on normal EGF-dependent epithelial cells, Balb/MK keratinocytes, that can undergo either proliferation or differentiation, We found that beta isoforms of NDF induced a mitogenic effect, that was significantly smaller than the maximal response to EGF, By contrast with NDF-beta, NDF-alpha isoforms exerted almost no mitogenic effect, but they were sufficient to maintain keratinocytes in culture, Consistent with their higher mitogenic potency, NDF-beta isoforms bound to Balb/MK cells with higher affinity (K-d=2.2 nM) than alpha isoforms, however both groups shared their receptor, that we identified as ErbB-3. No transcript of ErbB-4 was detectable in the keratinocytes, but these cells express multiple NDF mRNAs and also ErbB-2, We conclude that different isoforms of NDF induce distinct growth regulatory effects on cultured keratinocytes, through direct interaction with ErbB-3.
The neu proto-oncogene product, p185(neu) (HER2, c-ErbB-2), encodes a cell-surface tyrosine kinase receptor with high oncogenic potential, which correlates with increased tyrosine kinase activity and a rapid receptor internalization rate, To investigate the interactions and signal(s) leading to the endocytosis of Neu receptors, we employed lateral mobility and internalization studies, Fluorescence photobleaching recovery measurements revealed that activation of Neu receptors (induced by mutation or by agonistic antibodies) markedly reduced their mobile fractions, To elucidate the signals involved, other mutants, all carrying a constitutively dimerizing oncogenic mutation, were analyzed, A kinase-negative mutant and a mutant lacking all cytoplasmic tyrosine phosphorylation consensus sequences exhibited high mobile fractions, similar to nonactivated Neu, Retention of a single tyrosine autophosphorylation site (Tyr-1253) out of the five known such sites was sufficient to immobilize a large fraction of the receptor, For all mutants, internalization correlated with receptor immobilization and was blocked by treatments that interfere with coated pit structure, indicating that the immobilization is due to interactions with coated pits, This was supported by the coimmunoprecipitation of alpha-adaptin only with the constitutively activated Neu mutants, We conclude that activated Neu receptors become stably associated with coated pits via plasma membrane adaptor complexes (AP-2), Efficient Neu receptor endocytosis requires activation, a functional kinase domain, and at least one tyrosine autophosphorylation site.
Comparative analyses of both glycosylated and non glycosylated neu differentiation factor (NDF) isoforms revealed significant similarities and differences of their overall structures and functions. Biophysical analyses confirmed that all NDF isoforms are monomeric, but have an extended ellipsoidal shape in solution. All full-length NDFs are similar in secondary and tertiary structures and they contain no alpha-helix but are abundant in beta-strand structures. A small NDF fragment containing only the epidermal growth factor domain is also rich in beta-strand structures, but exhibits tertiary structure different from the long NDF forms. Monoclonal antibodies that selectively recognize epidermal growth factor domains of human NDF-alpha or NDF-beta can specifically bind the respective NDF-alpha and -beta isoforms independent of NDF origins. Western blot analysis and quantitative binding assays further identify that an NDF preparation produced naturally from Rat1-EJ cells contains both alpha and beta isoforms in a 3 to 2 ratio. In receptor binding competition experiments, human and rat NDF-beta isoforms have higher affinity than NDF-alpha isoforms. NDF-beta isoforms can dramatically enhance the stimulation of DNA synthesis for transfected NIH3T3 cells that overexpress HER-3 and HER-4 receptors, while NDF-alpha isoforms can only stimulate proliferation of HER-4-transfected cells with lower activity. Taken together, NDF-alpha and -beta isoforms share similar gross protein conformations but are biologically distinct.
Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a potent mitogen for a wide variety of cell types derived from mesoderm and neuroectoderm. The activity of bFGF is mediated by several types of closely related receptors belonging to the tyrosine-kinase family of receptors. We have found that Madin-Darby epithelial cells (MDCK) do not seem to produce bFGF or bFGF receptors. High level expression of human bFGF cDNA in these cells did not produce any mitogenic or morphological effects. Expression of the mouse-derived cDNA encoding FGF receptor-1 (FGFR-1) in MDCK cells resulted in the acquisition of a fibroblast-like morphology when the transfected cells were cultured at low density in the presence of 0.6% fetal calf serum and 20 ng/ml bFGF. Acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF) also induced these morphological changes but not keratinocyte growth factor. The morphological effect was not accompanied by increased bFGF-induced cell proliferation and did not result in the loss of epithelial cell markers such as cytokeratins. However, the morphological transition was accompanied by changes in the intracellular distribution of actin. In spite of these changes the transfected cells formed monolayers even in the presence of bFGF. Coexpression of bFGF and FGFR-1 in the MDCK cells resulted in similar morphological effects that were not dependent upon exogenous bFGF. These morphological effects were mimicked by exposure of MDCK cells to either orthovanadate or phorbol ester. Parental and FGFR-1-expressing MDCK cells formed monolayers that displayed high electrical resistance. Incubation of monolayers of FGFR-1-transfected cells with bFGF resu lted in the loss of trans-epithelial resistance. Monolayers of parental MDCK eel Is did not lose their trans-epithelial resistance in response to bFGF, although exposure to phorbol ester did result in the loss of their trans-epithelial resistance, indicating that the effects on the trans-epithelial resistance are mediated by protein kinase C activ
Receptor dimerization is ubiquitous to the action of all receptor tyrosine kinases, and in the case of dimeric ligands, such as the stem cell factor (SCF), it was attributed to ligand bivalency. However, by using a dimerization-inhibitory monoclonal antibody to the SCF receptor, we confined a putative dimerization site to the nonstandard fourth immunoglobulin-like domain of the receptor. Deletion of this domain not only abolished ligand-induced dimerization and completely inhibited signal transduction, but also provided insights into the mechanism of the coupling of ligand binding to dimer formation. These results identify an intrinsic receptor dimerization site and suggest that similar sites may exist in other receptors.
The HC11 mouse mammary epithelial cell line has proven to be a valuable in vitro model to study the roles of peptide factors and hormones involved in the growth and differentiation of mammary cells. Treatment of HC11 cells with the lactogenic hormones, dexamethasone, insulin, and PRL (DIP), leads to cellular differentiation and production of the milk protein beta-casein. We have analyzed the effects of Neu differentiation factor (NDF)/heregulin, a newly described activating ligand for erbB-2 and other members of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor family, on cell growth and the expression of milk proteins in HC11 cells. In these cells, NDF induces tyrosine phosphorylation of erbB-2 and erbB-3. Both NDF and EGF stimulate HC11 cell proliferation and promote the responsiveness of HC11 cells to lactogenic hormones. NDF induces the expression of a 22-kilodalton milk protein. This protein is up-regulated by other factors, including dexamethasone, EGF, and basic fibroblast growth factor, and is controlled in a manner distinct from that of beta-casein. Like EGF, NDF inhibits the DIP-induced expression of beta-casein at the revel of transcription. The inhibition is due to the negative effect of NDF on the activation of mammary gland factor (MGF/Stat5), a member of the Stat family of transcription factors, which is essential for beta-casein gene expression.
Keywords: GROWTH-FACTOR RECEPTOR; STEM-CELL FACTOR; EXTRACELLULAR DOMAIN; INSULIN-RECEPTOR; BINDING-SITE; TYROSINE PHOSPHORYLATION; SIGNAL-TRANSDUCTION; ERYTHROPOIETIN RECEPTOR; MONOCLONAL-ANTIBODIES; TRANSMEMBRANE DOMAIN
Mast cell growth factor (MGF) (also called stem cell factor) synergizes with several lymphokines, including interleukin-3 (IL-3) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM CSF), to promote proliferation and differentiation of certain hemopoietic progenitor cells. Although similar patterns of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins characterize cells stimulated by MGF, IL-3, and GM-CSF, only the MGF receptor is a tyrosine kinase, and the heterodimeric receptors for IL-3 and GM-CSF share a common beta subunit that is devoid of enzymatic activity. Here we show that signaling pathways utilized by all three cytokines include the cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase JAK2. Analysis of several factor-dependent myeloid cell lines indicated that JAK2 is physically associated with the common beta subunit and with MGF receptor (c-Kit) even prior to ligand binding. However, each of the ligands induced elevated tyrosine phosphorylation of JAK2 and a consequent increase in its catalytic activity. These results demonstrate for the first time the convergence within the same myeloid cells of signaling pathways originating in two distinct lymphokine receptors and a tyrosine kinase receptor on activation of a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase.
The histological hallmarks for the diagnosis of medullary breast cancer are circumscription, syncytial architecture, diffuse inflammatory infiltrate, and highly atypical nuclei. The biological and prognostic implication is a lower propensity to metastasize. We studied 19 medullary carcinomas for expression of the intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and lymphocyte-function-associated antigen-1, Neu differentiation factor, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and the expression of HER-2/neu, HER-4, and HER-3 receptors. Our study revealed that all of the 19 medullary carcinomas expressed the intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and lymphocyte function associated antigen Eighteen of 19 cancers expressed Nea differentiation factor and tumor necrosis factor-alpha All medullary cancers expressed the HER-2/neu receptor, however, in the majority of the cases, the staining was confined to the cytoplasm. Only 4 of 12 cancers expressed HER-4 and none of the eight medullary cancers tested expressed HER-3. By comparison, in a control group of infiltrating ductal carcinomas, expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, lymphocyte function associated antigen-1, and Neu differentiation factor was positive in about 25 to 30% of the cases, HER-4 was expressed In 75% and HER-3 in 95% of the cases. Taken together, our observations suggest that the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, lymphocyte function associated antigen, Nea differentiation factor, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha as factors that may affect the special morphology and the biological behavior that characterizes medullary carcinomas.
Neu differentiation factor (NDF or heregulin) elevates tyrosine phosphorylation of the ErbB-2 receptor tyrosine kinase, and it was, therefore, thought to function as a ligand of this receptor. However, several lines of evidence raised the possibility that the interaction between NDF and ErbB-2 involves another molecule, which belongs to the family of epidermal growth factor receptors. To address this question we constructed soluble chimeric proteins between alkaline phosphatase and the extracellular domains of ErbB-2 and either ErbB-3 or ErbB-4, two newly recognized members of the epidermal growth factor receptor family. Using the soluble proteins we found that beta isoforms of NDF specifically bind to the ErbB-3 and ErbB-4 receptors but not to the soluble ErbB-2 protein, When ectopically expressed in monkey fibroblasts, the full-length ErbB-3 and ErbB-4 receptors conferred specific binding to NDF. In these cells ErbB-3 displayed lower ligand binding affinity than ErbB-4, but like the latter receptor it preferred to bind the beta isoform over the alpha class of NDFs. These results indicate that both ErbB-3 and ErbB-4 function as physiological receptors of all NDF isoforms and suggest that a still unknown ligand of ErbB-2 exists.
Transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases that bind to growth factors transmit signals that are essential to growth and differentiation. These receptors can be classified into groups based on their structure. One group implicated in the pathogenesis of breast cancer contains receptors belonging to the erbB family. This group includes the epidermal growth factor receptors, the HER-2/neu (erbB-2), HER-3, and HER-4. Despite the structural similarity of these receptors, HER-2/neu, HER-4, and HER-3 do not bind to any ligand of the epidermal growth factor receptor. However, a 44-kD glycoprotein called neu differentiation factor (neu differentiation factor/heregulin) has been isolated. This ligand phosphorylates the HER-2/neu receptor and binds directly to HER-4 and HER-3. The abundance of erbB receptors and their ligands in breast cancers points to their functional importance in the pathogenesis and biological behavior of breast cancers. Furthermore, these receptors and ligands may hold a promise for targeted therapy for breast cancer in the future.
The Heregulin (HGL) gene, encoding a ligand for a member of the ERBB receptor family, is located at 8p 12-p22, in or close to a region frequently amplified in breast carcinoma Amplification of HGL was detected in three of 83 (3.6%) cases of breast tumors. No overexpression of the gene was observed in the amplified tumors. This and the low incidence of amplification suggest that HGL is not the key gene of the 8p12 amplification but may be used as a marker of large amplification units. (C) 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Neu differentiation factor (NDF, also called heregulin) was isolated from mesenchymal cells on the basis of its ability to elevate phosphorylation of ErbB proteins. Earlier in situ hybridization analysis showed that NDF was transcribed predominantly in the central nervous system during embryonic development. To gain insights into the role of NDF in brain we analyzed its distribution by inmunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Late-gestation (day 17) rat embryos displayed high NDF immunoreactivity in both motor (e.g., putamen) and limbic (e.g., septum) regions. Lower levels of the factor were exhibited by adult brain, except for the cerebellum, where NDF expression was increased postnatally. Both neurons and glial cells were identified by immunohistochemistry as NDF-producing cells (e.g., pyramidal neurons in the cerebral cortex and glial cells in the corpus callosum). By establishment of primary cultures of rat brain cells we confirmed that NDF was expressed in neurons as well as in astrocytes. In addition, by using such primary cultures we observed that NDF treatment exerted only a limited mitogenic effect, which was accompanied by significant acceleration of astrocyte maturation. Furthermore, long-term incubation with the factor specifically protected astrocytes from apoptosis, implying that NDF functions in brain as a survival and maturation factor for astrocytes.
The transforming potential of the Neu/ErbB-2 receptor tyrosine kinase undergoes inactivation by deletion of the non-catalytic C-terminal tail, which contains five autophosphorylation sites. To determine which site is essential for oncogenicity, we tailed the C-terminally-deleted mutant with individual autophosphorylation sites. Complete restoration of the transforming action in vitro and in vivo was conferred by a stretch of 12 amino acids that contained the most C-terminal tyrosine autophosphorylation site (Y1253). Reconstitution of transformation was specific to this amino acid sequence because none of the other autophosphorylation sites, when grafted individually, caused transformation, and replacement of the tyrosine with a phenylalanine residue significantly reduced the oncogenic potential of both the full-length and the tailed proteins. When present alone the most C-terminal sequence enabled coupling to a biochemical pathway that includes Ras, MAP kinase and transactivation of Jun. These results indicate that the multiplicity of autophosphorylation sites on a receptor tyrosine kinase is not essential for transformability, and implicate the MAP kinase pathway in transduction of the oncogenic signal of Neu/ErbB-2.
The Neu proto-oncogene (also called ErbB-2 and HER-2) encodes a tyrosine kinase transmembrane receptor homologous to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R). Overexpression, a point-mutation, and co-expression with EGF-R activate the oncogenic potential of the Neu protein by permanent coupling to signal transducing pathways. The search for ligands that elevate tyrosine phosphorylation of Neu led to the discovery of a 44-kDa glycoprotein that acts either as a differentiation factor or as a mitogen for mammary tumor cells. This protein, termed Neu differentiation factor (NDF), is derived from a transmembrane precursor that contains an EGF-like motif and an immunoglobulin-like domain. Alternative splicing generates a dozen NDF-related proteins that are expressed in a variety of mesenchymal and neuronal tissues. This unprecedented multiplicity raises the possibility that different isoforms fulfill distinct biological roles.
The mast cell growth factor (MGF) affects migration, proliferation and differentiation of erythroid and myeloid progenitor cells by binding to a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase encoded by the c-Kit proto-oncogene. By using MGF-dependent human myeloid cell lines (M-07e and TF-1), here we show that a Kit-related 100 kDa protein is associated with the cell but it undergoes release into the medium upon treatment with the tumor promoter 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), an activator of protein kinase C. Immunological analysis with a series of antibodies to Kit indicated that the released protein (p100(Kit)) contains the whole glycosylated extracellular portion of the transmembrane Kit protein (p145(Kit)). The secreted protein retained the ability to specifically bind MGF. Moreover, p100(Kit) was able to block the mitogenic effect of MGF on cultured M-07e cells, suggesting that the soluble protein may function as a physiological antagonist of MGF.
A PROTEIN ligand for the ECK1 receptor protein-tyrosine kinase has been isolated by using the extracellular domain (ECK-X) of the receptor as an affinity reagent. Initially, concentrated cell culture supernatants were screened for receptor binding activity using immobilized ECK-X in a surface plasmon resonance detection system2,3. Subsequently, supernatants from selected cell lines were fractionated directly by receptor affinity chromatography, resulting in the single-step purification of B61, a protein previously identified as the product of an early response gene induced by tumour necrosis factor-alpha4. We report here that recombinant B61 induces autophosphorylation of ECK in intact cells, consistent with B61 being an authentic ligand for ECK. ECK is a member of a large orphan receptor protein-tyrosine kinase family headed by EPH5, and we suggest that ligands for other members of this family will be related to B61, and can be isolated in the same way.
We used molecular cloning and functional analyses to extend the family of Neu differentiation factors (NDFs) and to explore the biochemical activity of different NDF isoforms. Exhaustive cloning revealed the existence of six distinct fibroblastic pro-NDFs, whose basic transmembrane structure includes an immunoglobulin-like motif and an epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domain. Structural variation is confined to three domains: the C-terminal portion of the EGF-like domain (isoforms alpha and beta), the adjacent juxtamembrane stretch (isoforms I to 4), and the variable-length cytoplasmic domain (isoforms a, b, and c). Only certain combinations of the variable domains exist, and they display partial tissue specificity in their expression: pro-NDF-alpha 2 is the predominant form in mesenchymal cells, whereas pro-NDF-beta 1 is the major neuronal isoform. Only the transmembrane isoforms were glycosylated and secreted as biologically active 44-kDa glycoproteins, implying that the transmembrane domain functions as an internal signal peptide. Extensive glycosylation precedes proteolytic cleavage of pro-NDF but has no effect on receptor binding. By contrast; the EGF-like domain fully retains receptor binding activity when expressed separately, but its beta-type C terminus displays higher affinity than alpha-type NDFs. Likewise, structural heterogeneity of the cytoplasmic tails may determine isoform-specific rate of pro-NDF processing. Taken together, these results suggest that different NDF isoforms are generated by alternative splicing and perform distinct tissue-specific functions.
Despite extensive research on the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction by growth factors and their oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases, the physiological relevance of these pathways, especially in mammals, remains largely unknown. A unique exception is the Steel factor (SLF) and its c-kit-encoded receptor, because many natural germ line mutations of both the ligand and the receptor exist in mice. The protooncogene c-kit encodes a cell surface receptor that belongs to the immunoglobulin gene family and carries an intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity in its cytoplasmic portion. The precursor of the Kit ligand, SLF, is also a transmembrane protein that exists as a soluble factor as well as a cell surface protein. The interaction of Kit with SLF leads to receptor dimerization, kinase activation, and tyrosine phosphorylation of cytoplasmic proteins that contain Src homology 2 motifs. Various mutations in Kit and SLF result in a defective signaling pathway and underly the complex phenotypes of W and Sl mice, respectively. The early development of at least four cell lineages is affected. These are erythrocytes, melanocytes, germ cells, and mast cells. Correlation between the behavior of these lineages and specific mutations uncovered interesting physiological aspects of the mechanism of signal transduction by a polypeptide growth factor. These include the different degrees of severity of affected lineages, indications for distinct functions during early embryonic development and at late phases, the significance of synergy between a growth factor and lymphokines, the interaction between mutant and wild-type proteins in heterozygous animals, and the possibility that a surface-anchored ligand may act differently than a soluble factor. Predictably, the lessons learned with Kit and Sl mice will be widely relevant to other pairs of ligands and receptors that control the function of different cell lineages and physiological processes.
Transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases that bind to peptide factors transmit essential growth and differentiation signals. A growing list of orphan receptors, of which some are oncogenic, holds the promise that many unknown ligands may be discovered by tracking the corresponding surface molecules. The neu gene (also called erbB-2 and HER-2) encodes such a receptor tyrosine kinase whose oncogenic potential is released in the developing rodent nervous system through a point mutation. Amplification and overexpression of neu are thought to contribute to malignancy of certain human adenocarcinomas. The search for soluble factors that interact with the Neu receptor led to the discovery of a 44 kDa glycoprotein that induces phenotypic differentiation of cultured mammary tumor cells to growth-arrested and milk-producing cells. The Neu differentiation factor (NDF or heregulin), however, also acts as a mitogen for epithelial, Schwann and glial cells. Multiple forms of the factor are produced by alternative splicing and their expression is confined predominantly to the central and to the peripheral nervous systems. One identified neuronal function of this family of polypeptides is to control the formation of neuromuscular junctions, but their physiological role in secretory epithelia is still unknown. Other open questions relate to the transmembrane topology of various precursors, the identity of a putative co-receptor, the possible existence of additional ligands of Neu and the functional significance of the interaction between Neu and at least three highly related receptor tyrosine kinases.
Cell surface molecules essential for the transformed phenotype or growth of malignant cells are attractive targets for anticancer immunotherapy. Antibodies specific to Neu/HER2, a human adenocarcinoma-associated growth factor receptor, were demonstrated to have tumor-inhibitory capacity. Yet, the inefficient accessibility of antibodies to solid tumors limits their clinical use. To redirect effector lymphocytes to adenocarcinomas, we constructed and functionally expressed in T cells chimeric single chain receptor genes incorporating both the Ag-binding domain of anti-Neu/HER2 antibodies and the zeta-signal-transducing subunit of the TCR/CD3 complex or the gamma-signal-transducing subunit of the Ig Fc receptor complex. Surface expression of the anti-Neu/HER2 chimeric genes in cytotoxic T cell hybridomas endowed them with specific Neu/HER2 recognition enabling their activation for IL-2 production and lysis of transformed cells overexpressing Neu/HER2. These chimeric genes hold promise for the immunotherapy of cancer.
Previous studies in vivo and in vitro show that KIT kinase promotes normal melanocyte development and growth. However, the role of the KIT proto-oncogene in neoplastic melanocytes is not certain. We therefore examined KIT expression and function in human melanomas. Our results show that KIT mRNA was expressed in 12 of 28 melanoma cell lines (approximately 40%), mainly in those originating from pigmented tumors. Surprisingly, activation of KIT with mast cell growth factor (MGF) in melanoma cells produced biological responses opposite to those elicited in normal melanocytes. MGF inhibited rather than stimulated the growth of metastatic melanoma cell lines. The opposite effects may be due to aberrant signal transduction by KIT in melanoma cells in response to MGF. The in vitro inhibition of melanoma cells by MGF suggests that growth in vivo of this tumor is not promoted by KIT kinase activation, but rather that transformed melanocytes might regress when MGF is expressed in their immediate environment.
THE PURPOSE OF this study was to determine if the expression of receptor tyrosine kinases would distinguish astrocytosis from astrocytoma. Because the expression of this family of receptor proteins is greater in higher-grade tumors, a graded series of both reactive and neoplastic astrocytic lesions in humans was evaluated. The reactive processes included both mild gliosis and severe (intense) gliosis. The two immunocytochemically detected membrane receptor proteins, p145 and p185, are those encoded by the kit and neu genes, respectively. Semi-quantitative assessments were made independently for the frequency and intensity of astrocytic immunostaining together with corollary immunocytochemical staining to detect glial fibrillary acidic protein. It was found that both mild gliosis and low-grade astrocytomas only minimally express these receptors. In contrast, severe gliosis and high-grade neoplasms consistently express these receptors at much higher levels. In both astrocytosis and astrocytomas, a cell with abundant perikaryal cytoplasm is most likely to be immunoreactive, often with dense reaction product concentrated at the periphery of the somal cytoplasm. The extent and pattern of immunoreactivity in high-grade astrocytomas preclude the interpretation that all immunoreactive cells were merely reactive astrocytes. We conclude that the expression of these receptors per se does not differentiate astrocytic neoplasia from reactive astrocytosis. Second, we conclude that immunocytochemically detectable levels of neu or kit receptor expression is not constitutive in normal astrocytes and in some stages of astrocytic neoplasia. On the basis of these findings, we speculate that some neoplastic astrocytes maintain and manifest the capacity to respond to transitory exogenous stimuli, as do reactive astrocytes. This reaction could include the elaboration of receptor tyrosine kinases. Alternatively, even if the function of these receptors in gliosis differs from that in gli
Binding of the Steel factor (SLF) to the product of the c-kit proto-oncogene stimulates the receptor's intrinsic tyrosine kinase that phosphorylates a set of cytoplasmic signaling molecules. Germ-line mutations in the genes that encode the receptor or the ligand result in remarkably similar phenotypes that affect melanogenesis, erythropoiesis and gametogenesis in mice. We concentrated on the initial events of the signal transduction pathway that underlies these processes. The extracellular portion of Kit is comprised of rive immunoglobulin-(Ig)-like domains. Ligand binding to this domain induces rapid and extensive dimerization of the receptor molecules in a mechanism that involves monovalent binding of the dimeric ligand, followed by an increase in receptors' affinity and gradual stabilization of the dimers. It thus appears that Kit has at least two functions: ligand binding and ligand-induced receptor dimerization, in addition to the kinase activity. Both functions are independent of the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains, as a recombinant soluble ectodomain retained high affinity to SLF and ligand-dependent dimerization. In order to correlate these functions with specific structures, we employed ligand-competitive monoclonal antibodies, soluble deletion mutants of the ectodomain and chimeric human-mouse Kit proteins. These approaches indicated that the N-terminal three Ig-like domains constitute the binding site, whose core is the second domain. Further experiments suggested that a putative dimerization site is distinct from the binding cleft and may be located on the fourth Ig-like domain.
Cripto-1 (CR-1), amphiregulin (AR), and heregulin alpha (HRGalpha) are three recently discovered epidermal growth factor (EGF)-related peptides. The expression of these proteins was determined in MCF-7, ZR-75-1, T-47D, SK-BR-3, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, and Hs-578T human breast cancer cell lines using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Northern blotting, and immunocytochemistry (ICC). The expression of CR-1 mRNA was detected by RT-PCR in all of the breast cancer cell lines. AR mRNA was detected by Northern blot analysis in MCF-7, ZR-75-1, T-47D, MDA-MB-231, and MDA-MB-468 cells while HRGalpha mRNA was expressed in only MDA-MB-231 and Hs-578T cells. All estrogen receptor-positive cell lines were found to express AR mRNA, and estrogen was able to induce AR mRNA expression in estrogen-depleted MCF-7 cells. CR-1 and AR proteins could be immunocytochemically detected in the breast cancer cell lines that were expressing CR-1 and AR mRNA using monospecific rabbit polyclonal antibodies. The anti-CR-1 antibody was also used to examine 26 human primary breast carcinomas by ICC for CR-1 expression. Seventy-five percent of the carcinomas were found to express the CR-1 protein while the adjacent non-involved breast epithelium was negative. These data demonstrate that CR-1, AR, and HRGalpha are coexpressed in human breast cancer cells and suggest that these three EGF-related peptides might perform a role in the autocrine growth regulation of human breast carcinoma cells.
The extracellular portion of the kit-encoded receptor for the stem cell factor (SCF) comprises five immunoglobulin (Ig)-like domains. To localize the ligand recognition site, we exploited the lack of binding of human SCF to the murine receptor by using human-mouse hybrids of Kit and species-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that inhibit ligand binding. Replacement of the three N-terminal Ig-like domains of the murine Kit with the corresponding portion of the human receptor conferred upon the chimeric receptor high-affinity binding of the human ligand as well as of human-specific ligand-inhibitory MAbs. By constructing five chimeric murine Kit proteins which individually contain each of these three human Ig-like units or pairs of them, we found that the second human domain confers upon the mouse Kit high-affinity binding of the human ligand and also binding of species-specific SCF-competitive MAbs. Nevertheless, the flanking Ig-like domains also affect high-affinity recognition of SCF. Moreover, it appears that the determinants that define ligand specificity of the murine and the human receptors do not structurally coincide. This observation allowed us to identify a chimeric receptor that displayed a dual specificity; namely, it bound with high affinity either the human or the murine SCF molecules and reacted with mouse- as well as human-specific ligand-inhibitory MAbs. Conversely, another chimera, which included all of the five Ig-like domains, bound neither ligand. In conclusion, interdomain packing involving the second Ig-like domain of human Kit and noncontiguous structural motifs of the receptor are involved in SCF recognition.
Neu differentiation factor (NDF/heregulin) is a 44-kDa glycoprotein that interacts with the Neu/ErbB-2 receptor tyrosine kinase to increase its phosphorylation on tyrosine residues. In vitro NDF promotes differentiation of certain mammary tumor cell lines to milk-producing cells. As a first step toward understanding the physiological role of NDF, we performed in situ hybridization analyses to determine mRNA distribution in the mouse embryo and to map the gene to human karyotypes. In 14.5-day-postcoitum mouse embryos, NDF expression is confined predominantly to the central and peripheral nervous system, including the neuroepithelium that lines the lateral ventricles of the brain, the ventral horn of the spinal cord, and the intestinal as well as dorsal root ganglia. Other tissues that contain NDF transcripts are the adrenal gland, liver, and distinct cell layers of the dermis and germinal ridge. In situ hybridization of a H-3-labeled probe to human metaphase spreads localized the NDF gene to the short arm of chromosome 8 at bands p12-p21.
The Neu/HER-2 receptor tyrosine kinase is overexpressed in some types of human adenocarcinomas, including tumors of the breast and the ovary. A 44 kDa glycoprotein that elevates tyrosine phosphorylation of Neu has been isolated and named Neu differentiation factor (NDF), or heregulin. Here we show that NDF affects tyrosine phosphorylation of Neu in human tumor cells of breast, colon and neuronal origin, but not in ovarian cells that overexpress the receptor. By using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to Neu, we found that the ovarian receptor is immunologically and biochemically similar to the mammary p185neu. Nevertheless, unlike breast-derived Neu, the ovarian protein did not display covalent cross-linking to radiolabeled NDF, and was devoid of ligand-induced association with phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase. Direct binding analysis showed that NDF binds with high affinity (K(d) approximately 10(-9) M) to mammary cells, but its weak association with ovarian cells is probably mediated by heparin-like molecules. Similar to the endogenous receptor, the ectopically overexpressed Neu of mammary cells, but not of ovarian and fibroblastic cells, exhibited elevated levels of NDF-induced phosphorylation and covalent cross-linking of the radiolabeled factor. Taken together, our results imply that NDF binding to cells requires both Neu and an additional cellular component, whose identity is still unknown, but its tissue distribution is more restricted than the expression of the neu gene.
The binding of the stem cell factor (SCF) to the c-kit-encoded receptor tyrosine kinase stimulates a variety of biochemical responses that culminate in cellular proliferation, migration, or survival. The extracellular domain of p145kit consists of five immunoglobulin-like domains. To confine the ligand binding site to this portion of the receptor we generated a panel of murine monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to the Kit protein and identified two mAbs that efficiently displaced receptor-bound SCF and also inhibited proliferation of SCF-dependent human megakaryocytes. To map the epitopes of these mAbs we constructed and expressed soluble portions of the extracellular domain of Kit, which included either the two amino-terminal Ig-like domains (denoted Kit 1-2), three Ig-like domains (Kit 1-2-3), or the entire extracellular portion (Kit-X). All three recombinant proteins were recognized by the ligand inhibitory mAbs, suggesting that the SCF binding site resides in the amino-terminal half of the ecto-domain. Consistent with this conclusion, all of the soluble proteins inhibited SCF binding to Kit-expressing cells, and they also underwent specific covalent cross-linking to the radiolabeled ligand. However, whereas Kit 1-2-3 and Kit-X displayed comparable ligand affinities, deletion of the third Ig-like domain, in Kit 1-2, involved significant reduction in SCF binding. Hence, the binding site of SCF probably includes Ig-like domains 1 and 2, but structural determinants distal to this portion may also participate in ligand recognition.
Neu differentiation factor (NDF, also called heregulin) is a 44-kilodaIton glycoprotein that stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation of the Neu/HER-2 receptor and induces phenotypic differentiation of certain mammary cancer cell lines to growth-arrested and milk-producing cells. To determine which molecules participate in the concomitant morphological alterations, we analyzed the expression of several cytoskeletal and surface molecules and found that NDF elevated the expression of the intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) in cultured AU-565 human adenocarcinoma cells. The levels of both the protein and the mRNA of ICAM-1 were elevated after 3-5 days of treatment with NDF. Elevated expression of ICAM-1 was induced also by γ-interferon and by the tumor-promoting phorbol ester (PMA), albeit with different kinetics. Down-regulation of protein kinase C or its inhibition by calphostin C partially inhibited the effect of NDF, implying that the induction of ICAM-1 may be mediated by protein kinase C. NDF transcripts were detectable in 3 of 9 human mammary tumors, suggesting that the in vitro effect of the factor may be relevant to breast cancer. By selecting Neu-positive human mammary tumors (n = 39), we found a significant correlation (P < 0.001) between the expression of ICAM-1 and histological features of invasive ductal carcinoma with a prominent carcinoma in situ component When cultured in vitro the cells of these tumors grew in clusters and formed domelike structures reminiscent of comedo-type carcinoma in situ. In addition, the majority of patients with tumors that coexpressed ICAM-1 and Neu had no lymph node involvement, unlike most Neu-positive but ICAM-1-negative tumors, which metastasized to the lymphatic system. Taken together, our observations suggest that the induction of ICAM-1 by NDF may affect the morphology, differentiation state, and metastasis of Neu-expressing mammary tumor cells.
Receptor tyrosine kinases are involved in the regulation of cell growth and may play a central role in embryonic development. We recently developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based gene cloning procedure that allows selective isolation of genes that encode novel transmembrane tyrosine kinases in tissues of embryonic origin. By employing this protocol on mRNA from a 12.5 day post-coitum mouse placenta, we identified a gene for a putative receptor protein kinase. The deduced amino acid sequence predicts the existence of an approximately 200 amino acid long extracellular domain that shows no similarity to known proteins. The cytoplasmic portion contains a core sequence that is structurally homologous to the tyrosine kinase family. However, a few highly conserved short blocks of sequences, shared by all protein kinases, display variations in the isolated gene. These include the glycine-rich block at the nucleotide-binding cleft and the Asp-Phe-Gly triplet at the substrate recognition site. On the basis of these variations, we named the gene vik for variant in the kinase. Northern analysis revealed two widely expressed transcripts of vik with molecular weights of 3 and 2.5 kb. Chromosomal mapping using restriction fragment length polymorphism localized the gene to murine chromosome 9. The unique structural landmarks of vik at both the extracellular and the cytoplasmic domains suggest novel ligand as well as substrate specificity of the presumed receptor.
The major cytosolic substrate of the insulin receptor is a 185-kDa phosphoprotein (IRS-1) that contains multiple putative attachment sites for the p85-alpha regulatory subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase (PI3K). To examine the possible interaction of pp185 with p85-alpha in vivo, we injected insulin or insulinomimetic agents (a combination of H2O2 and vanadate (H/V)) into the portal vein of anesthetized rats. In this model system, H/V treatment and, to a lesser extent, injection of insulin resulted in rapid and sustained tyrosine phosphorylation of multiple cellular proteins, including pp185/IRS-1. The latter was found to undergo specific association with the p85-alpha regulatory subunit of PI3K but not with two other proteins that contain src homology domains. As p85-alpha was not detectably phosphorylated on tyrosine residues and did not appear to interact directly with the insulin receptor, we conclude that tyrosine phosphorylation of pp185 promotes its association with p85-alpha and the catalytic subunit of PI3K. The recruitment of the holoenzyme may also involve its enzymatic activation and thus constitute an important step in the transduction of insulin signals.
The protooncogene c-kit encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor for the stem cell factor (SCF). Mutants of c-kit were shown to confer a pleiotropic defective phenotype and often display negative dominance in heterozygous mice. To explore the involvement of receptor dimerization in this genetic phenomenon, we employed both a human ligand, which does not recognize the murine receptor, and a rodent SCF, which binds to the human receptor with 100-fold reduced affinity as compared with human SCF. SCF binding to living cells was found to induce rapid and complete receptor dimerization that involved activation of the catalytic tyrosine kinase function. Although receptor dimerization can be attributed to the dimeric nature of the ligand, no dissociation of Kit dimers occurred at high excess of SCF, suggesting that receptor-receptor interactions are also involved in dimer stabilization. This was supported by in vitro formation of heterodimers between the human and murine Kit proteins through monovalent binding of species-specific human SCF. By coexpression of human and mouse Kit in murine fibroblasts, we found that receptor heterodimerization in living cells involved an increase in the affinity of human Kit for rat SCF and also an accelerated rate of receptor down-regulation. When a human Kit mutant lacking the kinase insert domain was coexpressed with the murine wild-type receptor, we observed a significant decrease in both the activation of the intact tyrosine kinase and its coupling to an effector protein, namely phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase. Our results favor a receptor activation model that assumes an initial step of monovalent ligand binding, followed by an intermediate receptor dimer bound by one arm of the ligand molecule. This model predicts the existence of an intrinsic receptor dimerization site and provides a structural basis for genetic dominance of mutant SCF receptors.
The neu protooncogene encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase homologous to the receptor for the epidermal growth factor. The oncogenic potential of neu is released upon chemical carcinogenesis, which replaces a glutamic acid for a valine residue, within the single transmembrane domain. This results in constitutive receptor dimerization and activation of the intrinsic catalytic function. To study the implications of the oncogenic mutation and the consequent receptor dimerization on the interaction with the yet incompletely characterized ligand of p185neu, we constructed chimeric proteins between the ligand binding domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor and the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of the normal or the transforming Neu proteins. The chimeric receptors displayed cellular and biochemical differences characteristic of the normal and the transforming Neu proteins and therefore may reliably represent the ligand binding functions of the two receptor forms. Analyses of ligand binding revealed qualitative and quantitative differences that were a result of the single mutation; whereas the normal chimera (valine version) displayed two populations of binding sites with approximately 90% of the receptors in the low affinity state, the transforming receptor (glutamic acid version) showed a single population of binding sites with relatively high affinity. Kinetics measurements indicated that the difference in affinities was because of slower rates of both ligand association and ligand dissociation from the constitutively dimerized mutant receptor. It therefore appears that the oncogenic mutation, by permanently dimerizing the receptor, establishes a high affinity ligand binding state which is functionally equivalent to the ligand-occupied normal receptor. Our conclusion is further supported by the rates of endocytosis of the wild-type and the mutant receptor. Hence, these results provide the first experimental evidence from living cells which supports a mode
The murine Kit receptor gene on chromosome 5 has been found to be frequently involved in germline mutations and rearrangements, leading to a characteristic set of severe developmental defects, known as the W phenotype. Here we describe the structure of the murine c-kit gene, based on restriction analysis of genomic phage clones and sequence determination of exon-intron boundaries. The Kit-coding region is distributed over 21 exons, most of which have sizes that range between 100 and 200 base pairs. The 3' non-translated sequence and the 3' end of the coding region form a single large exon, which encompasses 2.3 kb and is flanked by polyadenylation signals. The entire region spans a genomic distance of at least 70 kb. Though the exonic demarcations of c-kit show remarkable similarity to those of the human c-fms gene (which encodes the highly related colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor), no correlation could be found between the sizes of introns that separate homologous exon pairs. The data suggest that evolutionary pressures were confined to the conservation of structures of coding exons, whereas flanking regions were subject to large changes, owing to insertions and deletions. Finally, the analysis of the Kit genomic structure reveals that the inherited mutations of the Kit gene that have been reported thus far occur at various dispersed positions within the gene. Hence, the entire gene appears to have as yet unknown features which cause it to be frequently subject to mutations in murine germline tissues.
The neu protooncogene encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor that is involved in the regulation of normal growth and malignant transformation. To circumvent the use of the incompletely characterized ligand of Neu, we constructed a chimeric protein composed of the ligand-binding domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor and the transmembrane and cytoplasmic portions of Neu. By expressing this Neu-epidermal growth factor receptor chimera (termed NEC), we found that following stimulation by the heterologous ligand, the tyrosine kinase of Neu became associated with a phosphatidylinositol (PI) kinase activity. The association was dependent on the concentration of the ligand and was almost maximal within 30 s after ligand binding. The lipid kinase was identified as a type I PI 3'-kinase on the basis of its inhibition by Nonidet P-40 and high pressure liquid chromatography of the phosphorylated product. To confirm the identification of PI 3'-kinase as an effector of Neu, we raised antibodies to the a-isoform of the regulatory subunit of PI 3'-kinase (p85). Using these antibodies, it was possible to directly demonstrate ligand-dependent formation of a tyrosine-phosphorylated complex of NEC and PI 3'-kinase. Apparently, both PI 3'-kinase and phospholipase C(gamma), another substrate of the Neu kinase, simultaneously associated with the same activated NEC molecule. Nevertheless, immunofluorescence localization of PI 3'-kinase revealed no significant cellular redistribution of the enzyme after activation of the Neu kinase. Interestingly, PI 3'-kinase was localized primarily to the cell nucleus and to confined regions of the plasma membrane. Analysis of mutants of the Neu protein indicated that the oncogenic point-mutated Neu (Glu664) was permanently coupled to PI 3'-kinase; but two nontransforming versions of the oncoprotein, a kinase-defective protein and a carboxyl-terminally deleted Neu, were devoid of the constitutive association with PI 3'-kinase. Hence, we concluded
Recently, we have shown that a membrane-permeant derivative of the antiasthmatic drug cromoglycate (CG) effectively inhibits the Fc(epsilon)-receptor-mediated secretory response of rat mucosal mast cells (line RBL-2H3) at a stage preceding the transient rise in the cytoplasmic free calcium concentration [Hemmerich, S., Sijpkins, D., & Pecht, I. (1991) Biochemistry 30, 1523-15321. In contrast to cromoglycate itself, which is membrane impermeant and ineffective in these cells, its bis-acetoxymethyl ester derivative (CG/AM) can diffuse across the plasma membrane into the cytosol, where it is hydrolyzed into the impermeant CG dianion, which presumably may interact with intracellular components involved in the Fc(epsilon)R signal transduction pathway. In order to identify cytosolic components involved in the stimulus-secretion coupling that interact with this drug, we coupled CG to an insoluble matrix. This matrix was indeed effective in the affinity isolation from RBL cells of a cytosolic protein that exhibits an apparent molecular mass of 18 kDa on reducing SDS gels. This protein was purified to homogeneity and then fragmented, and the amino acid sequence of three resultant peptides was determined. Using the corresponding synthetic oligonucleotides, we cloned and sequenced a cDNA that encodes the full-length 18-kDa polypeptide (p18). The protein sequence deduced from this cDNA is identical to that of rat nucleoside diphosphate kinase [Kimura, N., Shimada, N., Nomura, K., & Watanabe, K. (1990) J. Biol. Chem. 265,15744-157491 and highly homologous (88%) to the human NM23 gene product whose expression is associated with reduced metastatic potential, as well as with the Drosophila awd gene product (77% sequence identity). The p18 isolated from RBL cells was indeed shown to catalyze phosphate transfer from nucleoside triphosphates to nucleoside diphosphates. This activity was inhibited by cromoglycate (I50 almost-equal-to 2 mM). The amino acid sequence of p18 and its enz
We recently reported that a 44 kd glycoprotein secreted by transformed fibroblasts stimulates tyrosine Phosphorylation of the product of the neu proto-oncogene and induces differentiation of mammary tumor cells to milk-producing, growth-arrested cells. A partial amino acid sequence of the protein, termed Neu differentiation factor (NDF), enabled cloning of the corresponding complementary DNA. The deduced structure of the precursor of NDF indicated that it is a transmembrane protein whose extracellular portion contains an EGF-like domain that probably functions as a receptor recognition site. In addition, the ectodomain contains one immunoglobulin homology unit. Despite the lack of a recognizable hydrophobic signal peptide at the N-terminus, a recombinant NDF, like the natural molecule, is released into the medium of transfected COS-7 cells in a biologically active form. Northern blot analysis indicated the existence of several NDF transcripts, the major ones being 1.8, 2.6, and 6.7 kb in size. Transformation by the ras oncogene dramatically elevated the expression of NDF in fibroblasts.
Binding of cellular growth factors to their receptors constitutes a highly specific interaction and the basis for cell and tissue-type specific growth and differentiation. A unique feature of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptors is the multitude of structural variants and an unprecedented degree of cross-reactivity between receptors and their various ligands. To examine receptor-ligand specificity within these families of growth factors and receptors, we used genetic engineering to substitute discrete regions between Bek/FGFR2 and the closely related keratinocyte growth factor receptor (KGFR). We demonstrate that a confined, 50 amino acid, variable region within the third immunoglobulin-like domain of Bek and KGFR exclusively determines their ligand binding specificities. Replacing the variable region of Bek/FGFR2 with the corresponding sequence of KGFR resulted in a chimeric receptor which bound KGF and had lost the capacity to bind basic FGF. We present evidence that the two variable sequences are encoded by two distinct exons that map close together in the mouse genome and follow a constant exon, suggesting that the two receptors were derived from a common gene by mutually exclusive alternative mRNA splicing. These results identify the C-terminal -half of the third immunoglobulin-like domain of FGF receptors as a major determinant for ligand binding and present a novel genetic mechanism for altering receptor-ligand specificity and generating receptor diversity.
The HER-2/neu protooncogene (also called erbB-2) encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor for a polypeptide growth-regulatory molecule. Amplification and overexpression of the gene have been frequently observed in human adenocarcinomas and correlated with poor prognosis. To explore the potential of antibody therapy directed at the HER-2/Neu receptor, we have raised a panel of murine monoclonal antibodies to the human protein, and tested their effect on the tumorigenic growth of HER-2/neu-transfected fibroblasts in athymic mice. We previously reported that the i.p. injected antibodies either inhibited or accelerated the tumorigenic growth of HER-2/neu transfectants in athymic mice. Here we report that these opposing effects were induced also by i.v. injected antibodies, they lasted over 7 weeks, and were probably mediated by distinct epitopes on the receptor molecule. To understand the cellular mechanisms underlying antibody-induced tumor inhibition, we tested the effect of the monoclonal antibodies on various cultured human breast cancer cells. Our analysis revealed that the tumor-inhibitory antibodies specifically induced phenotypic cellular differentiation that included growth arrest at late S or early G2 phase of the cell cycle, markedly altered cytoplasm and nuclear morphology, synthesis and secretion of milk components (casein and lipids), and translocation of the HER-2/Neu protein to cytoplasmic and perinuclear sites. The extent of cellular differentiation by various antibodies could be correlated with their tumor-inhibitory potential, whereas a tumor-stimulatory monoclonal antibody or control immunoglobulin were completely inactive with respect to cellular differentiation. Taken together, our in vivo and in vitro studies correlate the tumor inhibitory potential of monoclonal antibodies to HER-2/Neu with their capacity to induce cellular differentiation in vitro. This observation may hold promise for immunotherapy of cancers that express the HER-2/neu oncogene.
The stem cell factor (SCF) is a polypeptide ligand that is essential for the development of germ cells, hematopoietic progenitor cells, and melanocyte precursors. It binds to a tyrosine kinase membrane receptor that is encoded by the c-kit proto-oncogene. We have constructed an expression vector that directs the synthesis of the entire extracellular ligand-binding domain of the Kit/SCF receptor. When expressed and amplified in Chinese hamster ovary cells, a secreted 90-kDa glycoprotein could be harvested from the growth medium of the cells in a soluble form. This extracellular portion of the Kit/SCF receptor, denoted Kit-X, was recognized by antibodies specific to the SCF receptor; and when injected into animals, it raised antibodies that were reactive with the complete membrane form of the receptor. Direct binding and covalent cross-linking of radiolabeled SCF showed that Kit-X fully retained high affinity ligand binding and also underwent efficient dimerization in the presence of the ligand. The capacity of Kit-X to act as an antagonist of SCF was assayed on cultured cells that overexpress the receptor. Simultaneous addition of SCF and Kit-X to these cells resulted in a stoichiometric inhibition of SCF binding and a consequent decrease in autophosphorylation of the SCF receptor on tyrosine residues. The inhibition extended to later SCF-mediated responses, including the association of the receptor with phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase and coupling to the Raf1 protein kinase. These results indicate that the recombinant ectodomain of the Kit-SCF receptor can be used as a specific antagonist of SCF actions and may enable detailed molecular analysis of ligand-receptor interactions.
The neu/HER-2 proto-oncogene (also called erbB-2) encodes a transmembrane glycoprotein related to the epidermal growth factor receptor. We have purified to homogeneity a 44 kd glycoprotein from the medium of ras-transformed cells that stimulates phosphorylation of the Neu protein and retains activity after elution from the polyacrylamide gel. The protein is active at picomolar concentrations and displays a novel N-terminal sequence. Cross-linking experiments with radiolabeled p44 result in specific labeling of Neu, indicating that p44 is a ligand for Neu or a related receptor. The purified protein induces phenotypic differentiation of cultured human breast cancer cells, including altered morphology and synthesis of milk components. This is accompanied by an increase in nuclear area, inhibition of cell growth (probably by cell cycle arrest at the late S or the G2/M phases), and induction of DNA polyploidy. We propose the name Neu differentiation factor (NDF) for p44.
The proto-oncogene c-Kit, a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase, is, an important regulator of cell growth whose constitutively active oncogenic counterpart, v-kit, induces sarcomas in cats. Mutations in murine c-kit that reduce the receptor tyrosine kinase activity cause deficiencies in the migration and proliferation of melanoblasts, hematopoietic stem cells, and primordial germ cells. We therefore investigated whether c-Kit regulates normal human melanocyte proliferation and plays a role in melanomas. We show that normal human melanocytes respond to mast cell growth factor (MGF), the Kit-ligand that stimulates phosphorylation of tyrosyl residues in c-Kit and induces sequential phosphorylation of tyrosyl residues in several other proteins. One of the phosphorylated intermediates in the signal transduction pathway was identified as an early response kinase (mitogen-activated protein [MAP] kinase). Dephosphorylation of a prominent 180-kDa protein suggests that MGF also activates a phosphotyrosine phosphatase. In contrast, MGF did not induce proliferation, the cascade of protein phosphorylations, or MAP kinase activation in the majority of cells cultured from primary nodular and metastatic melanomas that grow independently of exogenous factors. In the five out of eight human melanoma lines expressing c-kit mRNAs, c-Kit was not constitutively activated. Therefore, although c-Kit-kinase is a potent growth regulator of normal human melanocytes, its activity is not positively associated with malignant transformation.
Our previous analysis of the signal transduction pathway used by the c-kit-encoded receptor for the stem cell factor (SCF) indicated efficient coupling to the type I phosphatidylinositol 3' kinase (PI3K). In an attempt to localize the receptor's site of interaction with PI3K, we separately deleted either the noncatalytic 68-amino-acid-long interkinase domain or the carboxyl-terminal portion distal to the catalytic sequences. Loss of ligand-induced association of PI3K with the former deletion mutant and retention of the PI3K association by the carboxyl-terminally deleted receptor implied interactions of PI3K with the kinase insert. This was further supported by partial inhibition of the association by an anti-peptide antibody directed against the kinase insert and lack of effect of an antibody directed to the carboxyl tail of the SCF receptor. A bacterially expressed kinase insert domain was used as a fusion protein to directly test its presumed function as a PI3K association site. This protein bound PI3K from cell lysate as demonstrated by PI3K activity and by an associated phosphoprotein of 85 kDa. The association was dependent on phosphorylation of the tyrosine residues on the expressed kinase insert. On the basis of these observations, we conclude that the kinase insert domain of the SCF receptor selectively interacts with the p85 regulatory subunit of PI3K and that this association requires phosphorylation of tyrosine residues in the kinase insert region, with apparently no involvement of the bulk cytoplasmic structure or tyrosine kinase function of the receptor.
Developmental expression of two closely related fibroblast growth factor receptors, bek and flg, is described from early postimplantation until advanced organogenesis. Transcripts of bek and flg were first seen in the primitive ectoderm of egg-cylinder-stage embryos. Later, starting with somitogenesis, and then throughout embryogenesis, they were actively transcribed both in the mesoderm and neuroectoderm. Bek was expressed also in the surface ectoderm and in various epithelia, whereas flg expression was restricted mainly to the mesenchyme. In the limb bud bek transcripts displayed a gradient-like distribution and appeared earlier than flg. The two receptors, in contrast to their almost identical ligand binding specificity, displayed distinct spatial specificities throughout development, suggesting that developmental localization may contribute to functional specificity. The role of bek and flg in gastrulation and in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions of organogenesis will be discussed.
The ERBB2 (also called HER2, neu, and c-erB-2) gene product, which encodes a growth factor receptor, was implicated in the malignancy of human adenocarcinomas. An antibody directed to the rat oncogenic receptor has been previously shown to have an antitumor effect in model systems. In an attempt to extend this observation to the protooncogenic human receptor and also to understand the underlying mechanism, we generated a panel of monoclonal antibodies specific to the extracellular portion of the ERBB2 protein. The effects of the antibodies on tumor growth were compared with their cellular and biochemical actions in vitro. Surprisingly, opposing in vivo effects were observed: although some antibodies almost completely inhibited the growth in athymic mice of transfected murine fibroblasts that overexpress Erbb-2, other antibodies either accelerated tumor growth or resulted in intermediate responses. When tested on cultured human breast carcinoma cells or ERBB2 transfectants, the tumor-stimulatory antibody was found to induce significant elevation of tyrosine phosphorylation of the ERBB2 protein. In contrast, only partial correlation was observed between the capacity to restrict tumor growth and the effects of the antibodies on receptor degradation and cellular proliferation in vitro. This suggests that the antitumor antibodies affect both receptor function and host-tumor interactions. Our results may help establish experimental criteria for the selection of specific antibodies for use either alone or in conjunction with other molecules as pharmacological antitumor agents.
The neu/HER2 proto-oncogene encodes a transmembrane tyrosine kinase homologous to receptors for polypeptide growth factors. The oncogenic potential of the presumed receptor is released through multiple genetic mechanisms including a specific point mutation, truncation at the extracellular domain and overexpression of the protooncogene. Here we show that all these modes of oncogenic activation result in a constitutively phosphorylated neu protein and an increase in tyrosine phosphorylation of a phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase (PLC-gamma). The examined transforming neu/HER2 proteins, unlike the normal gene product, also co-immunoprecipitated with PLC-gamma molecules. A kinase-defective mutant of a transforming neu failed to mediate both tyrosine phosphorylation and association with PLC-gamma, suggesting direct interaction of the neu kinase with PLC-gamma. This possibility was examined by employing a chimeric protein composed of the extracellular ligand-binding domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor and the neu cytoplasmic portion. The chimeric receptor mediated rapid ligand-dependent modification of PLC-gamma on tyrosine residues. It also physically associated, in a ligand-dependent manner, with the phosphoinositidase. Based on the presented results we suggest that the mechanism of cellular transformation by the neu/HER2 receptor involves tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of PLC-gamma.
Two genes, flg and bek, have been recently shown to encode receptors for fibroblast growth factors (FGF). Here we report the molecular cloning and sequence of a new member of the FGF receptor family, denoted flg-2, which was isolated from a human keratinocyte cDNA library. The cDNA sequence predicts an extracellular region possessing three immunoglobulin-like domains, a single transmembrane region and a cytoplasmic portion containing the tyrosine kinase domain split by a short inter-kinase segment. The amino acid sequence of flg-2 shows 68% and 64% identity with bek and flg, respectively. The most variable domain among the three genes is the amino-terminal immunoglobulin-like domain. Comparison with the chicken FGF receptor genes suggests that flg-2 is homologous to cek-2, whereas flg and bek are homologous to cek-1 and cek-3, respectively. Analysis of mRNA from various tissues shows that flg-2 is expressed predominantly in skin, brain and lung.
Transmembrane tyrosine kinases are involved in the control of cell growth and differentiation by extracellular signals. To enable identification of new receptor tyrosine kinases we developed a method that selectively amplifies segments of receptor genes. The method is based on a combination of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and hybridization screening and it employs three oligonucleotide primers derived from conserved domains of receptor tyrosine' kinases. It yields amplification of receptors' genes and appears to ignore cytoplasmic tyrosine kinases. When applied to RNA from 12.5 days post coitum mouse placenta, this methodology resulted in the detection of several putative or established receptors. Molecular cloning of one of these genes, which is identical to the partially characterized bek gene, identified a transmembrane tyrosine kinase with three immunoglobulin-like domains in the extracellular portion, and a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase sequence. The isolated cDNA shows remarkable homology to the murine flg gene that encodes a receptor for fibroblast growth factors. Indeed, an antibody directed to the carboxy terminus of the deduced bek protein specifically recognized a receptor for acidic and basic fibroblast growth factors in murine hepatoma cells. We therefore expect that the methodology we developed will enable the study of new receptors in hardly accessible biological systems such as early mammalian embryos or stem cells.
The neu protooncogene (also called HER2 and c-erbB2) encodes a cell-surface tyrosine kinase structurally related to the receptor for the epidermal growth factor (EGF). We have previously reported that a candidate ligand for the neu receptor is secreted by ras-transformed fibroblasts. Biochemical analyses of the neu stimulatory activity indicate that the ligand is a 35-kDa glycoprotein that is heat stable but sensitive to reduction. The factor is precipitable by either high salt concentrations or acidic alcohol. Partial purification of the molecule by selective precipitation, heparin-agarose chromatography, and gel filtration in dilute acid resulted in an active ligand, which is capable of stimulating the protooncogenic receptor but is ineffective on the oncogenic neu protein, which is constitutively active. The purified fraction, however, retained the ability to stimulate also the related receptor for EGF, suggesting that these two receptors are functionally coupled through a bidirectional mechanism. Alternatively, the presumed ligand interacts simultaneously with both receptors. The presented biochemical characteristics of the factor are expected to enable a completely purified factor with which to explore these possibilities.
The kit protooncogene encodes a transmembrane tyrosine kinase related to the receptors for the platelet derived growth factor (PDGF-R) and the macrophage growth factor (CSF1-R), and was very recently shown to bind a stem cell factor. To compare signal transduction by the kit kinase with signaling by homologous receptors we constructed a chimeric protein composed of the extra-cellular domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) and the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of kit. We have previously shown that the chimeric receptor transmits potent mitogenic and transforming signals in response to the heterologous ligand. Here we demonstrate that upon ligand binding, the ligand - receptor complex undergoes endocytosis and degradation and induces short- and long-term cellular effects. Examination of the signal transduction pathway revealed that the activated kit kinase strongly associates with phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase activity and a phosphoprotein of 85 kd. In addition, the ligand-stimulated kit kinase is coupled to modifications of phospholipase C-gamma and the Raf1 protein kinase. However, it does not lead to a significant change in the production of inositol phosphate. Comparison of our results with the known signaling pathways of PDGF-R and CSF1-R suggests that each receptor is coupled to a specific combination of signal transducers.
Recent studies provide evidence that defective receptors can function as a dominant negative mutation suppressing the action of wild-type receptors. This causes various diminished responses in cell culture and developmental disorders in murine embryogenesis. Here, we describe a model system and a potential mechanism underlying the dominant suppressing response caused by defective epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors. We used cultured 3T3 cells coexpressing human wild-type receptors and an inactive deletion mutant lacking most of the cytoplasmic domain. When expressed alone, EGF was able to stimulate the dimerization of either wild-type or mutant receptors in living cells as revealed by chemical covalent cross-linking experiments. In response to EGF, heterodimers and homodimers of wild-type and mutant receptors were observed in cells coexpressing both receptor species. However, only homodimers of wild-type EGF receptors underwent EGF-induced tyrosine autophosphorylation in living cells. These results indicate that the integrity of both receptor moieties within receptor dimers is essential for kinase activation and autophosphorylation. Moreover, the presence of mutant receptors in cells expressing wild-type receptors diminished the number of high-affinity binding sites for EGF, reduced the rate of receptor endocytosis and degradation, and diminished biological signalling via EGF receptors. We propose that heterodimerization with defective EGF receptors functions as a dominant negative mutation suppressing the activation and response of normal receptors by formation of unproductive heterodimers.
A growing proportion of the known protooncogenes encode putative receptors for growth/differentiation factors. The detection and identification of the hypothetical ligands of these presumed receptors, and the elucidation of their biological roles constitute a new biochemical challenge. Employing the neu protooncogene, here three experimental approaches to these problems are described. Stimulatory anti-receptor antibodies appear to mimic the action of the presumptive ligand of the neu receptor, and also lead to the conclusion that the oncogenic receptor, unlike the normal p185neu, is functionally equivalent to a ligand-stimulated receptor. Second, an experimental strategy was developed for the detection of the neu ligand. Employing this approach a candidate ligand was detected in the growth medium of certain oncogene-transformed fibroblasts. Thirdly, engineered chimeras of the neu gene and the gene for the EGF-receptor enabled construction of a neu receptor that is responsive to a heterologous ligand. Combinely, these approaches may provide a detailed biological picture of the action of the putative ligand, and may be generally applicable in the study of other receptor-like oncogenic proteins.
The c-kit proto-oncogene, the cellular homolog of the transforming gene of a feline retrovirus, encodes a transmembrane tyrosine kinase homologous to receptors for growth factors. To study the cellular function of c-kit, we constructed a chimeric molecule composed of the extracellular portion of the receptor for epidermal growth factor (EGF) and the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of p145kit. The hybrid molecule was properly expressed in murine fibroblasts and displayed specific binding of EGF (Kd, 3 x 10(-8) M). Activation of the chimeric receptor by EGF stimulated the tyrosine kinase activity of kit and led to the generation of a potent mitogenic signal. Moreover, cells expressing the chimeric receptor acquired a transformed phenotype once they were stimulated with the heterologous ligand.
The rotational diffusion of the complexes of epidermal growth factor (EGF) with its specific receptor on plasma membrane vesicles prepared from human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells was studied using the time‐resolved polarization of phosphorescence of erythrosin‐labeled hormone. The measured rotational correlation times of 16‐20 microseconds at 4 degrees C are consistent with monomeric freely diffusing EGF receptor. Upon increasing the temperature to 37 degrees C, the rate of rotational diffusion slows down as evidenced by an increase in the correlation time to 75 microseconds. This finding suggests that small clusters of the occupied EGF receptor (microaggregation) form at the higher temperature, a property we have reported previously for occupied receptors on living A431 cells. Subsequent cooling of the membranes leads to a partial reversal of the microaggregation. We conclude that clustering of occupied EGF receptors can proceed at 37 degrees C in the absence of metabolic energy and external interactions, e.g. with components of the cytoskeleton, and thus reflects inherent properties of the receptor protein in its natural environment. A lag phase in the time course of microaggregation observed with the isolated membrane preparations may reflect cooperativity in the process of receptor association.
A method is described for a rapid two-step purification of the membrane receptor for epidermal growth factor (EGF) from cultured human A-431 cells. After solubilization of the cells with Triton X-100, the receptor is immobilized on an immunoaffinity column containing a monoclonal antibody directed against the receptor. In the second step of purification, the receptor, eluted from the antibody column, is adsorbed and specifically eluted from a lectin-agarose column. The molecular species obtained is mainly the 170,000-dalton EGF receptor polypeptide. The activity of the pure receptor depends on the conditions used for the desorption from the immunoaffinity beads. High-yield elution is obtained with acidic buffer and the receptor so purified specifically binds EGF, but is devoid of the kinase activity. When the elution is done with alkaline buffers or with buffer containing urea, a fully active receptor kinase is purified (yield of 10%). The pure receptor binds 125I-EGF with a Kd of 4 X 10(-8) M and retains EGF-sensitive protein kinase activity which phosphorylates tyrosine residues on the receptor itself. An additional protocol is described for large-scale purification (yield of 55%) of EGF receptor for the analysis of its primary structure. In this procedure, the EGF receptor is first purified by immunoaffinity chromatography which is followed by preparative gel electrophoresis of the 32P internally labeled receptor to remove minor protein contaminants.
The membrane receptor for epidermal growth factor is a transmembrane protein composed of an EGF-binding domain and a cytoplasmic kinase domain, connected by a single hydrophobic stretch. The binding of EGF to the extracellular domain activates the cytoplasmic kinase function even in highly purified preparations of EGF receptor, suggesting that the activation occurs exclusively within the EGF receptor moiety. The experiments presented indicate that self-phosphorylation of the EGF receptor is dependent on the concentration of the receptor and that antibodies which cross-link the receptor molecules stimulate self-phosphorylation and increase the affinity of EGF towards the receptor. Moreover, immobilization of the EGF receptor on various solid matrices prevents EGF from activating the kinase function. These results are compatible with an intermolecular activation of the tyrosine kinase followed by an intramolecular self-phosphorylation process. An allosteric aggregation model is formulated as a framework to these and otherregulatory responses attributed to the EGF receptor complex.