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Surgery. 2000 Aug;128(2):153-8.

HER2 regulatory control of angiopoietin-2 in breast cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA, USA.



HER2 overexpression is a marker of aggressive breast cancer. Tumors that overexpress HER2 induce endothelial cell retraction and endothelial destabilization. Because angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) also destabilizes microvessels, we postulated that HER2 signaling upregulates Ang-2 as a mechanism of angioinvasion.


We tested human breast cancers and breast cancer cell lines for coexpression of HER2 and Ang-2 with Northern blot, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Further, we manipulated HER2 signaling with 100 ng/mL MAbHu HER2 (Herceptin; Genentech, San Francisco, Calif) and Heregulin beta1 (100 ng/mL; R&D Systems, Inc, Minneapolis, Minn) to test for HER2 regulation of Ang-2 production.


Three of 4 breast cancer cell lines expressed HER2 protein and Ang-2 mRNA. HER cells, a stably transfected cell line that overexpresses HER2 6-fold, showed a 430% increase in Ang-2 mRNA compared to parental MCF-7 cells. Heregulin beta1 stimulation of HER2 signaling in MCF-7 cells increased Ang-2 by 20% (P <.05). HER2 signaling blockade with 100 ng/mL Herceptin reduced Ang-2 mRNA 90% (P <.001). Five of 11 cancers expressed both HER2 and Ang-2; 2 cancers expressed only Ang-2.


We conclude that human breast cancers express Ang-2. HER2 signaling appears to regulate Ang-2 expression, although other signaling pathways may also regulate Ang-2. Ang-2 may be a therapeutic target in these cancers and may define which patients would benefit from Herceptin therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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