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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Aug 27;110(35):14372-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1303204110. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Mutant PIK3CA accelerates HER2-driven transgenic mammary tumors and induces resistance to combinations of anti-HER2 therapies.

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Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2; ERBB2) amplification and phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit alpha (PIK3CA) mutations often co-occur in breast cancer. Aberrant activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway has been shown to correlate with a diminished response to HER2-directed therapies. We generated a mouse model of HER2-overexpressing (HER2(+)), PIK3CA(H1047R)-mutant breast cancer. Mice expressing both human HER2 and mutant PIK3CA in the mammary epithelium developed tumors with shorter latencies compared with mice expressing either oncogene alone. HER2 and mutant PIK3CA also cooperated to promote lung metastases. By microarray analysis, HER2-driven tumors clustered with luminal breast cancers, whereas mutant PIK3CA tumors were associated with claudin-low breast cancers. PIK3CA and HER2(+)/PIK3CA tumors expressed elevated transcripts encoding markers of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and stem cells. Cells from HER2(+)/PIK3CA tumors more efficiently formed mammospheres and lung metastases. Finally, HER2(+)/PIK3CA tumors were resistant to trastuzumab alone and in combination with lapatinib or pertuzumab. Both drug resistance and enhanced mammosphere formation were reversed by treatment with a PI3K inhibitor. In sum, PIK3CA(H1047R) accelerates HER2-mediated breast epithelial transformation and metastatic progression, alters the intrinsic phenotype of HER2-overexpressing cancers, and generates resistance to approved combinations of anti-HER2 therapies.

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