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Cell Cycle. 2008 Sep 15;7(18):2936-41. Epub 2008 Sep 30.

Targeting Hsp90 prevents escape of breast cancer cells from tyrosine kinase inhibition.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institutes of Health Research Scholars Program, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Recent studies have identified development of resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibition (TKI) as a significant roadblock to effective treatment. One mechanism of resistance recently appreciated involves 'oncogene switching', or the re-activation of signaling pathways by one or more redundant upstream activators. In breast cancer models, ErbB TKIs such as gefitinib have been shown to lose the ability to modulate ErbB-driven signaling pathways over time, even though ErbB inhibition is maintained. Although incomplete ErbB inhibition has been proposed to underlie this phenomenon, our findings suggest that oncogene switching can also re-activate downstream signaling pathways in breast cancer cells, even when ErbB inhibition is complete. We find that ErbB TKI-induced Src activation mediates downstream signaling rebound in SKBR3 cells, and we show that combination of Src and ErbB inhibitors is more effective and longlasting than is either TKI alone. Finally, the Hsp90 inhibitor 17-AAG, by simultaneously and durably inhibiting multiple signaling activators including ErbB and Src kinases, does not permit oncogene switching and results in a more prolonged and robust inhibition of downstream signaling pathways in breast cancer cells than do individual TKIs. These data support the continued clinical evaluation of Hsp90 inhibitors in breast cancer.

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