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Mol Carcinog. 2019 May;58(5):699-707. doi: 10.1002/mc.22963. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

GRB7 dependent proliferation of basal-like, HER-2 positive human breast cancer cell lines is mediated in part by HER-1 signaling.

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Veterans Administration Portland Health Care System, Portland, Oregon.
Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.


GRB7 gene encodes a multi-domain signal transduction molecule and is part of the core of the HER-2 amplicon. GRB7 is commonly co-amplified and overexpressed with HER-2 in human breast cancer. This study addresses the role of GRB7 in HER-2 positive human breast cancers resistant to HER-2 targeted therapy. HCC1954, 21MT1, and JIMT1 are basal like HER-2 positive breast cancer cell lines based on expression profiling. These three cell lines are resistant to trastuzumab and lapatinib treatment. Knockdown of GRB7 protein expression with siRNA transfection as well as lentiviral vector mediated shRNA over-expression decreased the growth of HCC1954, 21MT1, and JIMT1 cells in vitro and the growth of tumor xenografts these cells formed in animal models. When assayed by ki-67 staining and TUNEL assay, the mechanism of reduced tumor xenograft growth appeared to be distinct. Reduced proliferation and increased apoptosis were seen in 21MT1 cells, while reduced proliferation was seen in HCC1954 cells and increased apoptosis in JIMT1 cells. Phospho-proteome profiling found HER-1 tyrosine phosphorylation was reduced with GRB7 knock down in JIMT1 cells. Immuno-blotting and immuno-precipitation experiments found HER-1 phosphorylation was reduced with GRB7 knock down in all three cell lines. HER-1 knock down via siRNA transient transfection as well as blocking HER-1 function with panitumumab decreased proliferation of all three cell lines in vitro. Our study finds that GRB7 has an essential growth promoting function which is mediated in part by HER-1 activation. The potential of HER-1 targeting in therapy resistant HER-2 positive breast cancer merits further study.


animal models; breast cancer; signal transduction

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