Author(s): Dokmanovic M, Hirsch DS, Shen Y, Wu WJ
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Although treatment with trastuzumab improves outcomes for women with ErbB2-positive breast cancer, many patients who achieve an initial response to trastuzumab subsequently acquire resistance within 1 year. Rac1, a Ras-like small GTPase, has been implicated in the control of cell growth and morphology and is believed to be associated with breast cancer progression and metastasis. Here, we show that when parental SKBR3 cells become resistant to trastuzumab, Rac1 activity is increased, leading to altered cell morphology, which is accompanied by significant cytoskeleton disorganization. Furthermore, both trastuzumab-mediated down-regulation of ErbB2 and epidermal growth factor-induced down-regulation of epidermal growth factor receptor are impaired in the trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3 cells, indicating that the endocytic down-regulation of ErbB receptors is compromised in the resistant cells. This results in an aberrant accumulation of ErbB2 on the cell surface and enhanced ErbB2 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activity in trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3 cells. Additionally, overexpression of constitutively active Rac1G12V in parental SKBR3 cells reduces sensitivity to trastuzumab. After reduction of Rac1 activity by NSC23766, a specific Rac1 inhibitor, trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3 cells display a cellular morphology similar to parental SKBR3 cells. Moreover, we show that NSC23766 restores trastuzumab-mediated endocytic down-regulation of ErbB2 and reduces extracellular signal-regulated kinase activity in resistant SKBR3 cells. Our findings highlight an important role for Rac1 in trastuzumab resistance of human breast cancer cells and identify the impaired trastuzumab-mediated endocytic down-regulation of ErbB2 as a novel mechanism of trastuzumab resistance. The significant effects of NSC23766 on trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3 cells warrant further study of NSC23766 as a potential treatment of trastuzumab-resistant breast cancers.
This article was published in Mol Cancer Ther
and referenced in Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System