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Ann Surg. 2014 Apr;259(4):793-9. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182a6f552.

Distinct pathways regulated by RET and estrogen receptor in luminal breast cancer demonstrate the biological basis for combination therapy.

Author information

1
From the Department of Surgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We investigated directed therapy based on TFAP2C-regulated pathways to inform new therapeutic approaches for treatment of luminal breast cancer.

BACKGROUND:

TFAP2C regulates the expression of genes characterizing the luminal phenotype including ESR1 and RET, but pathway cross talk and potential for distinct elements have not been characterized.

METHODS:

Activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) and AKT was assessed using phosphorylation-specific Western blot. Cell proliferation was measured with MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] after siRNA (small interfering RNA) gene knockdown or drug treatment. Cell cycle, Ki-67, and cleaved caspase 3 were measured by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Tumorigenesis was assessed in mice xenografts.

RESULTS:

Knockdown of TFAP2C or RET inhibited GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor)-mediated activation of ERK and AKT in MCF-7 cells. Similarly, sunitinib, a small-molecule inhibitor of RET, blocked GDNF-mediated activation of ERK and AKT. Inhibition of RET either by gene knockdown or by treatment with sunitinib or vandetanib reduced RET-dependent growth of luminal breast cancer cells. Interestingly, knockdown of TFAP2C, which controls both ER (estrogen receptor) and RET, demonstrated a greater effect on cell growth than either RET or ER alone. Parallel experiments using treatment with tamoxifen and sunitinib confirmed the increased effectiveness of dual inhibition of the ER and RET pathways in regulating cell growth. Whereas targeting the ER pathway altered cell proliferation, as measured by Ki-67 and S-phase, anti-RET primarily increased apoptosis, as demonstrated by cleaved caspase 3 and increased TUNEL (terminal deoxyneucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling) expression in xenografts.

CONCLUSIONS:

ER and RET primarily function through distinct pathways regulating proliferation and cell survival, respectively. The findings inform a therapeutic approach based on combination therapy with antiestrogen and anti-RET in luminal breast cancer.

PMID:
24045439
PMCID:
PMC3986044
DOI:
10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182a6f552
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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