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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jan 29;110(5):1714-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1214014110. Epub 2013 Jan 14.

High throughput kinase inhibitor screens reveal TRB3 and MAPK-ERK/TGFβ pathways as fundamental Notch regulators in breast cancer.

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Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research, Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 2M9.


Expression of the Notch ligand Jagged 1 (JAG1) and Notch activation promote poor-prognosis in breast cancer. We used high throughput screens to identify elements responsible for Notch activation in this context. Chemical kinase inhibitor and kinase-specific small interfering RNA libraries were screened in a breast cancer cell line engineered to report Notch. Pathway analyses revealed MAPK-ERK signaling to be the predominant JAG1/Notch regulator and this was supported by gene set enrichment analyses in 51 breast cancer cell lines. In accordance with the chemical screen, kinome small interfering RNA high throughput screens identified Tribbles homolog 3 (TRB3), a known regulator of MAPK-ERK, among the most significant hits. We demonstrate that TRB3 is a master regulator of Notch through the MAPK-ERK and TGFβ pathways. Complementary in vitro and in vivo studies underscore the importance of TRB3 for tumor growth. These data demonstrate a dominant role for TRB3 and MAPK-ERK/TGFβ pathways as Notch regulators in breast cancer, establishing TRB3 as a potential therapeutic target.

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