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Oncogene. 2010 Jul 8;29(27):3896-907. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.151. Epub 2010 May 10.

A novel interaction between HER2/neu and cyclin E in breast cancer.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


HER2/neu (HER2) and cyclin E are important prognostic indicators in breast cancer. As both are involved in cell cycle regulation we analyzed whether there was a direct interaction between the two. HER2 and cyclin E expression levels were determined in 395 breast cancer patients. Patients with HER2-overexpression and high levels of cyclin E had decreased 5-year disease-specific survival compared with low levels of cyclin E (14% versus 89%, P<0.0001). In vitro studies were performed in which HER2-mediated activity in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cell lines was downregulated by transfection with HER2 small interfering RNA or treatment with trastuzumab. Cyclin E expression levels were determined by western blot analysis, and functional effects analyzed using kinase assays, MTT assays were used to assess cell viability as a marker of proliferation and fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis was used to determine cell cycle profiles. Decreased HER2-mediated signaling resulted in decreased expression of cyclin E, particularly the low molecular weight (LMW) isoforms. Decreased HER2 and LMW cyclin E expression had functional consequences, including decreased cyclin E-associated kinase activity and decreased proliferation, because of increased apoptosis and an increased accumulation of cells in the G1 phase. In vivo studies performed in a HER2-overexpressing breast cancer xenograft model confirmed the effects of trastuzumab on cyclin E expression. Given the relationship between HER2 and cyclin E, in vitro clonogenic assays were performed to assess combination therapy targeting both proteins. Isobologram analysis showed a synergistic interaction between the two agents (trastuzumab targeting HER2 and roscovitine targeting cyclin E). Taken together, these studies show that HER2-mediated signaling effects LMW cyclin E expression, which in turn deregulates the cell cycle. LMW cyclin E has prognostic and predictive roles in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer, warranting further study of its potential as a therapeutic target.

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