Author(s): Rochefort H, Glondu M, Sahla ME, Platet N, Garcia M
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Abstract Estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers generally have a better prognosis and are often responsive to anti-estrogen therapy, which is the first example of a successful therapy targeted on a specific protein, the ER. Unfortunately ER-negative breast cancers are more aggressive and unresponsive to anti-estrogens. Other targeted therapies are thus urgently needed, based on breast cancer oncogene inhibition or suppressor gene activation as far as molecular studies have demonstrated the alteration of expression, or structure of these genes in human breast cancer. Using the MDA-MB.231 human breast cancer cell line as a model of ER-negative breast cancers, we are investigating two of these approaches in our laboratory. Our first approach was to transfect the ER or various ER-deleted variants into an ER-negative cell line in an attempt to recover anti-estrogen responsiveness. The unliganded receptor, and surprisingly estradiol, were both found to inhibit tumor growth and invasiveness in vitro and in vivo. The mechanisms of these inhibitions in ER-negative cancer cells are being studied, in an attempt to target the ER sequence responsible for such inhibition in these cancer cells. Another strategy is trying to inhibit the activity or expression of an oncogene specifically overexpressed in most breast cancers. This approach was recently shown by others to be efficient in breast cancer therapy with HER2-Neu oncogene amplification using Herceptin. Without excluding other molecular putative targets, we have focused our research on cathepsin D as a potential target, since it is often overexpressed in aggressive human breast cancers, including ER-negative tumors, and rarely associated with HER2-Neu amplification. Our first results obtained in vitro on cell lines and in vivo in tumor xenografts in nude mice, illustrate that the mode of action of cathepsin D in breast cancer is useful to guide the development of these therapies. In the past 20 years we have learned that the action of cathepsin D is complex and involves both intracellular and extracellular activities due to its proteolytic activity and to interactions with membrane components without catalytic activity. Each of these mechanisms could be potentially inhibited in an attempt to prevent tumor growth. Breast cancer is a very heterogeneous and multigenic disease and different targeted therapies adapted to each category of breast cancer are therefore required. Validated assays in the primary tumor of molecular markers such as ER, HER2-Neu and cathepsin D should help to predict which targeted therapy should be applied to cure breast cancer patients.
This article was published in Endocr Relat Cancer
and referenced in Journal of Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems