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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 3;12(4):e0174849. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174849. eCollection 2017.

HER2 signaling regulates HER2 localization and membrane retention.

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Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
Severance Biomedical Science Institute and BK21 PLUS project to Medical Science, Severance Institute for Vascular and Metabolic Research, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


ErbB2/HER2/Neu is a receptor tyrosine kinase that is overexpressed in 25-30% of human breast cancers, usually associated with amplification of the ERBB2 gene. HER2 has no recognized ligands and heterodimers between HER2 and EGFR (ErbB1/HER1) or HER2 and ErbB3/HER3 are important in breast cancer. Unlike other ErbB family members, HER2 is resistant to internalization and degradation, and remains at the cell surface to signal for prolonged periods after it is activated. Although the mechanisms underlying retention of HER2 at the cell surface are not fully understood, prior studies have shown that, in order to avoid internalization, HER2 must interact with the chaperone, HSP90, and the calcium pump, PMCA2, within specific plasma membrane domains that protrude from the cell surface. In this report, we demonstrate that HER2 signaling, itself, is important for the formation and maintenance of membrane protrusions, at least in part, by maintaining PMCA2 expression and preventing increased intracellular calcium concentrations. Partial genetic knockdown of HER2 expression or pharmacologic inhibition of HER2 signaling causes the depletion of membrane protrusions and disruption of the interactions between HER2 and HSP90. This is associated with the ubiquitination of HER2, its internalization with EGFR or HER3, and its degradation. These results suggest a model by which some threshold of HER2 signaling is required for the formation and/or maintenance of multi-protein signaling complexes that reinforce and prolong HER2/EGFR or HER2/HER3 signaling by inhibiting HER2 ubiquitination and internalization.

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