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Oncogene. 2015 Feb 19;34(8):1051-7. doi: 10.1038/onc.2014.28. Epub 2014 Mar 17.

Heterogeneity in ERK activity as visualized by in vivo FRET imaging of mammary tumor cells developed in MMTV-Neu mice.

Author information

1
Department of Bioimaging and Cell Signaling, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.
2
Innovative Techno-Hub for Integrated Medical Bio-Imaging, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.
3
Life & Industrial Products Development Department 1, R&D Division, Olympus Corporation, Hachioji, Japan.
4
1] Department of Pathology and Biology of Diseases, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan [2] Imaging Platform for Spatio-Temporal Information, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.
5
Department of Oncologic Pathology, Kanazawa Medical University, 1-1 Daigaku, Uchinada, Kahoku-gun, Ishikawa, Japan.
6
1] Department of Bioimaging and Cell Signaling, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan [2] Department of Pathology and Biology of Diseases, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.

Abstract

Human epidermal growth factor receptor2/Neu, which is overexpressed in about 30% of human breast cancers, transduces growth signals in large part via the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK pathway. Nevertheless, it is a matter of controversy whether high ERK activity in breast cancer tissues correlates with better or worse prognosis, leaving the role of ERK activity in the progression of breast cancers unresolved. To address this issue, we live-imaged ERK activity in mammary tumors developed in mouse mammary tumor virus-Neu transgenic mice, which had been crossed with transgenic mice expressing a Förster resonance energy transfer biosensor for ERK. Observation of the tumor by two-photon microscopy revealed significant heterogeneity in ERK activity among the mammary tumor cells. The level of ERK activity in each cell was stable up to several hours, implying a robust mechanism that maintained the ERK activity within a limited range. By sorting the mammary tumor cells on the basis of their ERK activity, we found that ERK(high) cells less efficiently generated tumorspheres in vitro and tumors in vivo than did ERK(low) cells. In agreement with this finding, the expressions of the cancer stem cell markers CD49f, CD24 and CD61 were decreased in ERK(high) cells. These observations suggest that high ERK activity may suppress the self-renewal of mammary cancer stem cells.

PMID:
24632612
DOI:
10.1038/onc.2014.28
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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