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J Cell Biochem. 2008 Oct 1;105(2):585-95. doi: 10.1002/jcb.21859.

Quercetin-induced ubiquitination and down-regulation of Her-2/neu.

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Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Her-2/neu (ErbB2) is a transmembrane tyrosine kinase and acts as a co-receptor for the other EGFR family members. It is well known that high expression of Her-2/neu is associated with a poor prognosis in breast cancer. Quercetin, a flavonoid present in many vegetables and fruits, has been studied extensively as a chemoprevention agent in several cancer models. In this study, we observed that quercetin decreased the level of Her-2/neu protein in time- and dose-dependent manners and also inhibited the downstream survival PI3K-Akt signaling pathway in Her-2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer SK-Br3 cells. We also observed that quercetin induced polyubiquitination of Her-2/neu. When the proteasome pathway was blocked by MG-132 during quercetin treatment, accumulation of the NP-40 insoluble form of Her-2/neu occurred. Interestingly, data from immunocomplex studies revealed that quercetin promoted interaction between Her-2/neu and Hsp90 which is a molecular chaperone involved in stabilization of Her-2/neu. In this condition, inhibition of Hsp90 activity by a specific inhibitor, geldanamycin (GA), or intracellular ATP depletion caused dissociation of Hsp90 from Her-2/neu and promoted ubiquitination and down-regulation of Her-2/neu protein. In addition, the carboxyl terminus of Hsc70-interacting protein (CHIP), a chaperone-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase, played a crucial role in the quercetin-induced ubiquitination of Her-2/neu. Inhibition of tyrosine kinase activity of Her-2/neu by quercetin could indicate an lateration in the Her-2/neu structure which promotes CHIP recruitments and down-regulation of Her-2/neu. We believe that by using quercetin, new therapeutic strategies can be developed to treat Her-2/neu overexpressing cancers.

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