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Oncogene. 2001 Mar 22;20(12):1465-75.

Src family kinases and HER2 interactions in human breast cancer cell growth and survival.

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Department of Microbiology and Cancer Center, Box 441, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia, VA 22908, USA.


Evidence from murine fibroblast models and human breast cancer cells indicates that c-Src and human EGF receptor (HER1) synergize to enhance neoplastic growth of mammary epithelial cells. To investigate whether interactions between c-Src and other HER family members may also play a role in breast tumor progression, we characterized 13 human breast carcinoma cell lines and 13 tumor samples for expression of HER family members and c-Src and examined a subset of the cell lines for Src-dependent, heregulin (HRG)-augmented, anchorage-dependent and independent growth. By immunoblotting, we found that all cell lines overexpressed one or more HER family member, and 60% overexpressed c-Src. Seventy-five per cent of the tumor tissues overexpressed HER2, while 64% overexpressed c-Src. Colony formation in soft agar was enhanced by HRG in three of five cell lines tested, a response that correlated with the presence of a c-Src/HER2 heterocomplex. This result suggests that HRG may act through both HER2 and c-Src to facilitate anchorage-independent growth. In contrast, HRG had little effect on anchorage-dependent growth in any of the cell lines tested. PP1, a Src family kinase inhibitor, reduced or ablated HRG-dependent and independent soft agar growth or anchorage dependent growth, and triggered apoptosis in all cell lines tested. The apoptotic effect of PP1 could be partially or completely reversed by HRG, depending on the cell line. These results suggest that while Src family kinases may cooperate with HRG to promote the survival and growth of human breast tumor cells, they also function independently of HER2/HRG in these processes.

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