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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2005 Nov;4(11):1686-96. Epub 2005 Jul 26.

Proteomic study reveals that proteins involved in metabolic and detoxification pathways are highly expressed in HER-2/neu-positive breast cancer.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, National University Hospital, 5 Lower Kent Ridge Road, Singapore 119074.


The receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB2 (HER-2/neu) is overexpressed in up to 30% of breast cancers and is associated with poor prognosis and an increased likelihood of metastasis especially in node-positive tumors. In this proteomic study, to identify the proteins that are associated with the aggressive phenotype of HER-2/neu-positive breast cancer, tumor cells from both HER-2/neu-positive and -negative tumors were procured by laser capture microdissection. Differentially expressed proteins in the two subsets of tumors were identified by two-dimensional electrophoresis and MALDI-TOF/TOF MS/MS. We found differential expression of several key cell cycle modulators, which were linked with increased proliferation of the HER-2/neu-overexpressing cells. Nine proteins involved in glycolysis (triose-phosphate isomerase (TPI), phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (PGK1), and enolase 1 (ENO1)), lipid synthesis (fatty acid synthase (FASN)), stress-mediated chaperonage (heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27)), and antioxidant and detoxification pathways (haptoglobin, aldo-keto reductase (AKR), glyoxalase I (GLO), and prolyl-4-hydrolase beta-isoform (P4HB)) were found to be up-regulated in HER-2/neu-positive breast tumors. HER-2/neu-dependent differential expression of PGK1, FASN, Hsp27, and GLO was further validated in four breast cancer cell lines and 12 breast tumors by immunoblotting and confirmed by partially switching off the HER-2/neu signaling in the high HER-2/neu-expressing SKBr3 cell line with Herceptin treatment. Statistical correlations of these protein expressions with HER-2/neu status were further verified by immunohistochemistry on a tissue microarray comprising 97 breast tumors. Our findings suggest that HER-2/neu signaling may result, directly or indirectly, in enhanced activation of various metabolic, stress-responsive, antioxidative, and detoxification processes within the breast tumor microenvironment. We hypothesize that these identified changes in the cellular proteome are likely to drive cell proliferation and tissue invasion and that the key cell cycle modulators involved, when uncovered by future research, would serve as naturally useful targets for the development of therapeutic strategies to negate the metastatic potential of HER-2/neu-positive breast tumors.

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