Publications by authors named "Gary C Chamness"

22 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

FOXA1 upregulation promotes enhancer and transcriptional reprogramming in endocrine-resistant breast cancer.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 Dec 11. Epub 2019 Dec 11.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030;

Forkhead box A1 (FOXA1) is a pioneer factor that facilitates chromatin binding and function of lineage-specific and oncogenic transcription factors. Hyperactive FOXA1 signaling due to gene amplification or overexpression has been reported in estrogen receptor-positive (ER) endocrine-resistant metastatic breast cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms by which FOXA1 up-regulation promotes these processes and the key downstream targets of the FOXA1 oncogenic network remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that FOXA1 overexpression in ER breast cancer cells drives genome-wide enhancer reprogramming to activate prometastatic transcriptional programs. Up-regulated FOXA1 employs superenhancers (SEs) to synchronize transcriptional reprogramming in endocrine-resistant breast cancer cells, reflecting an early embryonic development process. We identify the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-2α (HIF-2α) as the top high FOXA1-induced SE target, mediating the impact of high FOXA1 in activating prometastatic gene sets and pathways associated with poor clinical outcome. Using clinical ER/HER2 metastatic breast cancer datasets, we show that the aberrant FOXA1/HIF-2α transcriptional axis is largely nonconcurrent with the mutations, suggesting different mechanisms of endocrine resistance and treatment strategies. We further demonstrate the selective efficacy of an HIF-2α antagonist, currently in clinical trials for advanced kidney cancer and recurrent glioblastoma, in reducing the clonogenicity, migration, and invasion of endocrine-resistant breast cancer cells expressing high FOXA1. Our study has uncovered high FOXA1-induced enhancer reprogramming and HIF-2α-dependent transcriptional programs as vulnerable targets for treating endocrine-resistant and metastatic breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1911584116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6936436PMC
December 2019

Targeting the Mevalonate Pathway to Overcome Acquired Anti-HER2 Treatment Resistance in Breast Cancer.

Mol Cancer Res 2019 11 16;17(11):2318-2330. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Despite effective strategies, resistance in HER2 breast cancer remains a challenge. While the mevalonate pathway (MVA) is suggested to promote cell growth and survival, including in HER2 models, its potential role in resistance to HER2-targeted therapy is unknown. Parental HER2 breast cancer cells and their lapatinib-resistant and lapatinib + trastuzumab-resistant derivatives were used for this study. MVA activity was found to be increased in lapatinib-resistant and lapatinib + trastuzumab-resistant cells. Specific blockade of this pathway with lipophilic but not hydrophilic statins and with the N-bisphosphonate zoledronic acid led to apoptosis and substantial growth inhibition of R cells. Inhibition was rescued by mevalonate or the intermediate metabolites farnesyl pyrophosphate or geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, but not cholesterol. Activated Yes-associated protein (YAP)/transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) and mTORC1 signaling, and their downstream target gene product Survivin, were inhibited by MVA blockade, especially in the lapatinib-resistant/lapatinib + trastuzumab-resistant models. Overexpression of constitutively active YAP rescued Survivin and phosphorylated-S6 levels, despite blockade of the MVA. These results suggest that the MVA provides alternative signaling leading to cell survival and resistance by activating YAP/TAZ-mTORC1-Survivin signaling when HER2 is blocked, suggesting novel therapeutic targets. MVA inhibitors including lipophilic statins and N-bisphosphonates may circumvent resistance to anti-HER2 therapy warranting further clinical investigation. IMPLICATIONS: The MVA was found to constitute an escape mechanism of survival and growth in HER2 breast cancer models resistant to anti-HER2 therapies. MVA inhibitors such as simvastatin and zoledronic acid are potential therapeutic agents to resensitize the tumors that depend on the MVA to progress on anti-HER2 therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-19-0756DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6825570PMC
November 2019

The oral selective oestrogen receptor degrader (SERD) AZD9496 is comparable to fulvestrant in antagonising ER and circumventing endocrine resistance.

Br J Cancer 2019 02 17;120(3):331-339. Epub 2018 Dec 17.

Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Background: The oestrogen receptor (ER) is an important therapeutic target in ER-positive (ER+) breast cancer. The selective ER degrader (SERD), fulvestrant, is effective in patients with metastatic breast cancer, but its intramuscular route of administration and low bioavailability are major clinical limitations.

Methods: Here, we studied the pharmacology of a new oral SERD, AZD9496, in a panel of in vitro and in vivo endocrine-sensitive and -resistant breast cancer models.

Results: In endocrine-sensitive models, AZD9496 inhibited cell growth and blocked ER activity in the presence or absence of oestrogen. In vivo, in the presence of oestrogen, short-term AZD9496 treatment, like fulvestrant, resulted in tumour growth inhibition and reduced expression of ER-dependent genes. AZD9496 inhibited cell growth in oestrogen deprivation-resistant and tamoxifen-resistant cell lines and xenograft models that retain ER expression. AZD9496 effectively reduced ER levels and ER-induced transcription. Expression analysis of short-term treated tumours showed that AZD9496 potently inhibited classic oestrogen-induced gene transcription, while simultaneously increasing expression of genes negatively regulated by ER, including genes potentially involved in escape pathways of endocrine resistance.

Conclusions: These data suggest that AZD9496 is a potent anti-oestrogen that antagonises and degrades ER with anti-tumour activity in both endocrine-sensitive and endocrine-resistant models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-018-0354-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6353941PMC
February 2019

HER2 Reactivation through Acquisition of the HER2 L755S Mutation as a Mechanism of Acquired Resistance to HER2-targeted Therapy in HER2 Breast Cancer.

Clin Cancer Res 2017 Sep 9;23(17):5123-5134. Epub 2017 May 9.

Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Resistance to anti-HER2 therapies in HER2 breast cancer can occur through activation of alternative survival pathways or reactivation of the HER signaling network. Here we employed BT474 parental and treatment-resistant cell line models to investigate a mechanism by which HER2 breast cancer can reactivate the HER network under potent HER2-targeted therapies. Resistant derivatives to lapatinib (L), trastuzumab (T), or the combination (LR/TR/LTR) were developed independently from two independent estrogen receptor ER/HER2 BT474 cell lines (AZ/ATCC). Two derivatives resistant to the lapatinib-containing regimens (BT474/AZ-LR and BT474/ATCC-LTR lines) that showed HER2 reactivation at the time of resistance were subjected to massive parallel sequencing and compared with parental lines. Ectopic expression and mutant-specific siRNA interference were applied to analyze the mutation functionally. and experiments were performed to test alternative therapies for mutant HER2 inhibition. Genomic analyses revealed that the L755S mutation was the only common somatic mutation gained in the BT474/AZ-LR and BT474/ATCC-LTR lines. Ectopic expression of L755S induced acquired lapatinib resistance in the BT474/AZ, SK-BR-3, and AU565 parental cell lines. L755S-specific siRNA knockdown reversed the resistance in BT474/AZ-LR and BT474/ATCC-LTR lines. The HER1/2-irreversible inhibitors afatinib and neratinib substantially inhibited both resistant cell growth and the HER2 and downstream AKT/MAPK signaling driven by L755S and HER2 reactivation through acquisition of the L755S mutation was identified as a mechanism of acquired resistance to lapatinib-containing HER2-targeted therapy in preclinical HER2-amplified breast cancer models, which can be overcome by irreversible HER1/2 inhibitors. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-2191DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5762201PMC
September 2017

Upregulation of ER Signaling as an Adaptive Mechanism of Cell Survival in HER2-Positive Breast Tumors Treated with Anti-HER2 Therapy.

Clin Cancer Res 2015 Sep 26;21(17):3995-4003. Epub 2015 May 26.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Purpose: To investigate the direct effect and therapeutic consequences of epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeting therapy on expression of estrogen receptor (ER) and Bcl2 in preclinical models and clinical tumor samples.

Experimental Design: Archived xenograft tumors from two preclinical models (UACC812 and MCF7/HER2-18) treated with ER and HER2-targeting therapies and also HER2+ clinical breast cancer specimens collected in a lapatinib neoadjuvant trial (baseline and week 2 posttreatment) were used. Expression levels of ER and Bcl2 were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis. The effects of Bcl2 and ER inhibition, by ABT-737 and fulvestrant, respectively, were tested in parental versus lapatinib-resistant UACC812 cells in vitro.

Results: Expression of ER and Bcl2 was significantly increased in xenograft tumors with acquired resistance to anti-HER2 therapy compared with untreated tumors in both preclinical models (UACC812: ER P = 0.0014; Bcl2 P < 0.001 and MCF7/HER2-18: ER P = 0.0007; Bcl2 P = 0.0306). In the neoadjuvant clinical study, lapatinib treatment for 2 weeks was associated with parallel upregulation of ER and Bcl2 (Spearman coefficient: 0.70; P = 0.0002). Importantly, 18% of tumors originally ER-negative (ER(-)) converted to ER(+) upon anti-HER2 therapy. In ER(-)/HER2(+) MCF7/HER2-18 xenografts, ER reexpression was primarily observed in tumors responding to potent combination of anti-HER2 drugs. Estrogen deprivation added to this anti-HER2 regimen significantly delayed tumor progression (P = 0.018). In the UACC812 cells, fulvestrant, but not ABT-737, was able to completely inhibit anti-HER2-resistant growth (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: HER2 inhibition can enhance or restore ER expression with parallel Bcl2 upregulation, representing an ER-dependent survival mechanism potentially leading to anti-HER2 resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-2728DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4558260PMC
September 2015

Int6 reduction activates stromal fibroblasts to enhance transforming activity in breast epithelial cells.

Cell Biosci 2015 8;5:10. Epub 2015 Mar 8.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, 77030 TX USA.

Background: The INT6 gene was first discovered as a site of integration in mouse mammary tumors by the mouse mammary tumor virus; however, INT6's role in the development of human breast cancer remains largely unknown. By gene silencing, we have previously shown that repressing INT6 promotes transforming activity in untransformed human mammary epithelial cells. In the present study, guided by microarray data of human tumors, we have discovered a role of Int6 in stromal fibroblasts.

Results: We searched microarray databases of human tumors to assess Int6's role in breast cancer. While INT6 expression levels, as expected, were lower in breast tumors than in adjacent normal breast tissue samples, INT6 expression levels were also substantially lower in tumor stroma. By immunohistochemistry, we determined that the low levels of INT6 mRNA observed in the microarray databases most likely occurs in stromal fibroblasts, because far fewer fibroblasts in the tumor tissue showed detectable levels of the Int6 protein. To directly investigate the effects of Int6 repression on fibroblasts, we silenced INT6 expression in immortalized human mammary fibroblasts (HMFs). When these INT6-repressed HMFs were co-cultured with breast cancer cells, the abilities of the latter to form colonies in soft agar and to invade were enhanced. We analyzed INT6-repressed HMFs and found an increase in the levels of a key carcinoma-associated fibroblast (CAF) marker, smooth muscle actin. Furthermore, like CAFs, these INT6-repressed HMFs secreted more stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), and the addition of an SDF-1 antagonist attenuated the INT6-repressed HMFs' ability to enhance soft agar colony formation when co-cultured with cancer cells. These INT6-repressed HMFs also expressed high levels of mesenchymal markers such as vimentin and N-cadherin. Intriguingly, when mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were induced to form CAFs, Int6 levels were reduced.

Conclusion: These data suggest that besides enhancing transforming activity in epithelial cells, INT6 repression can also induce fibroblasts, and possibly MSCs as well, via mesenchymal-mesenchymal transitions to promote the formation of CAFs, leading to a proinvasive microenvironment for tumorigenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13578-015-0001-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359526PMC
March 2015

Recurrent ESR1-CCDC170 rearrangements in an aggressive subset of oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.

Nat Commun 2014 Aug 7;5:4577. Epub 2014 Aug 7.

1] Lester &Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA [2] Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA [3] Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA [4] Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

Characterizing the genetic alterations leading to the more aggressive forms of oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancers is of critical significance in breast cancer management. Here we identify recurrent rearrangements between the oestrogen receptor gene ESR1 and its neighbour CCDC170, which are enriched in the more aggressive and endocrine-resistant luminal B tumours, through large-scale analyses of breast cancer transcriptome and copy number alterations. Further screening of 200 ER+ breast cancers identifies eight ESR1-CCDC170-positive tumours. These fusions encode amino-terminally truncated CCDC170 proteins (ΔCCDC170). When introduced into ER+ breast cancer cells, ΔCCDC170 leads to markedly increased cell motility and anchorage-independent growth, reduced endocrine sensitivity and enhanced xenograft tumour formation. Mechanistic studies suggest that ΔCCDC170 engages Gab1 signalosome to potentiate growth factor signalling and enhance cell motility. Together, this study identifies neoplastic ESR1-CCDC170 fusions in a more aggressive subset of ER+ breast cancer, which suggests a new concept of ER pathobiology in breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms5577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4130357PMC
August 2014

Different mechanisms for resistance to trastuzumab versus lapatinib in HER2-positive breast cancers--role of estrogen receptor and HER2 reactivation.

Breast Cancer Res 2011 28;13(6):R121. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Introduction: The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeted therapies trastuzumab (T) and lapatinib (L) show high efficacy in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, but resistance is prevalent. Here we investigate resistance mechanisms to each drug alone, or to their combination using a large panel of HER2-positive cell lines made resistant to these drugs.

Methods: Response to L + T treatment was characterized in a panel of 13 HER2-positive cell lines to identify lines that were de novo resistant. Acquired resistant lines were then established by long-term exposure to increasing drug concentrations. Levels and activity of HER2 and estrogen receptor (ER) pathways were determined by qRT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and immunoblotting assays. Cell growth, proliferation, and apoptosis in parental cells and resistant derivatives were assessed in response to inhibition of HER or ER pathways, either pharmacologically (L, T, L + T, or fulvestrant) or by using siRNAs. Efficacy of combined endocrine and anti-HER2 therapies was studied in vivo using UACC-812 xenografts.

Results: ER or its downstream products increased in four out of the five ER+/HER2+ lines, and was evident in one of the two intrinsically resistant lines. In UACC-812 and BT474 parental and resistant derivatives, HER2 inhibition by T reactivated HER network activity to promote resistance. T-resistant lines remained sensitive to HER2 inhibition by either L or HER2 siRNA. With more complete HER2 blockade, resistance to L-containing regimens required the activation of a redundant survival pathway, ER, which was up-regulated and promoted survival via various Bcl2 family members. These L- and L + T-resistant lines were responsive to fulvestrant and to ER siRNA. However, after prolonged treatment with L, but not L + T, BT474 cells switched from depending on ER as a survival pathway, to relying again on the HER network (increased HER2, HER3, and receptor ligands) to overcome L's effects. The combination of endocrine and L + T HER2-targeted therapies achieved complete tumor regression and prevented development of resistance in UACC-812 xenografts.

Conclusions: Combined L + T treatment provides a more complete and stable inhibition of the HER network. With sustained HER2 inhibition, ER functions as a key escape/survival pathway in ER-positive/HER2-positive cells. Complete blockade of the HER network, together with ER inhibition, may provide optimal therapy in selected patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/bcr3067DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3326563PMC
June 2012

Loss of Rho GDIα and resistance to tamoxifen via effects on estrogen receptor α.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2011 Apr 29;103(7):538-52. Epub 2011 Mar 29.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77479, USA.

Background: Estrogen receptor (ER) α is a successful therapeutic target in breast cancer, but patients eventually develop resistance to antiestrogens such as tamoxifen.

Methods: To identify genes whose expression was associated with the development of tamoxifen resistance and metastasis, we used microarrays to compare gene expression in four primary tumors from tamoxifen-treated patients whose breast cancers did not recur vs five metastatic tumors from patients whose cancers progressed during adjuvant tamoxifen treatment. Because Rho guanine dissociation inhibitor (GDI) α was underexpressed in the tamoxifen-resistant group, we stably transfected ERα-positive MCF-7 breast cancer cells with a plasmid encoding a short hairpin (sh) RNA to silence Rho GDIα expression. We used immunoblots and transcription assays to examine the role of Rho GDIα in ER-related signaling and growth of cells in vitro and as xenografts in treated nude mice (n = 8-9 per group) to examine the effects of Rho GDIα blockade on hormone responsiveness and metastatic behavior. The time to tumor tripling as the time in weeks from randomization to a threefold increase in total tumor volume over baseline was examined in treated mice. The associations of Rho GDIα and MTA2 levels with tamoxifen resistance were examined in microarray data from patients. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Rho GDIα was expressed at lower levels in ERα-positive tumors that recurred during tamoxifen treatment than in ERα-positive tamoxifen-sensitive primary tumors. MCF-7 breast cancer cells in which Rho GDIα expression had been silenced were tamoxifen-resistant, had increased Rho GTPase and p21-activated kinase 1 activity, increased phosphorylation of ERα at serine 305, and enhanced tamoxifen-induced ERα transcriptional activity compared with control cells. MCF-7 cells in which Rho GDIα expression was silenced metastasized with high frequency when grown as tumor xenografts. When mice were treated with estrogen or estrogen withdrawal, tripling times for xenografts from cells with Rho GDIα silencing were similar to those from vector-containing control cells; however, tripling times were statistically significantly faster than control when mice were treated with tamoxifen (median tripling time for tumors with Rho GDIα small interfering RNA = 2.34 weeks; for control tumors = not reached, hazard ratio = 4.13, 95% confidence interval = 1.07 to 15.96, P = .040 [adjusted for multiple comparisons, P = .119]). Levels of the metastasis-associated protein MTA2 were also increased upon Rho GDIα silencing, and combined Rho GDIα and MTA2 levels were associated with recurrence in 250 tamoxifen-treated patients.

Conclusion: Loss of Rho GDIα enhances metastasis and resistance to tamoxifen via effects on both ERα and MTA2 in models of ERα-positive breast cancer and in tumors of tamoxifen-treated patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djr058DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071355PMC
April 2011

Loss of phosphatase and tensin homolog or phosphoinositol-3 kinase activation and response to trastuzumab or lapatinib in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-overexpressing locally advanced breast cancers.

J Clin Oncol 2011 Jan 6;29(2):166-73. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Purpose: Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss or activating mutations of phosphoinositol-3 (PI3) kinase (PIK3CA) may be associated with trastuzumab resistance. Trastuzumab, the humanized human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) monoclonal antibody, and lapatinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor/HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor, are both established treatments for HER2-overexpressing breast cancers. Understanding of the cellular response to HER2-targeted therapies is needed to tailor treatments and to identify patients less likely to benefit.

Methods: We evaluated the effect of trastuzumab or lapatinib in three HER2-overexpressing cell lines. We confirmed the in vitro observations in two neoadjuvant clinical trials in patients with HER2 overexpression; 35 patients received trastuzumab as a single agent for the first 3 weeks, then docetaxel every 3 weeks for 12 weeks (trastuzumab regimen), whereas 49 patients received lapatinib as a single agent for 6 weeks, followed by trastuzumab/docetaxel for 12 weeks before primary surgery (lapatinib regimen). Apoptosis, Ki67, p-MAPK, p-AKT, and PTEN were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Genomic DNA was sequenced for PIK3CA mutations.

Results: Under low PTEN conditions, in vitro data indicate that lapatinib alone and in combination with trastuzumab was effective in decreasing p-MAPK and p-AKT levels, whereas trastuzumab was ineffective. In the clinical trials, we confirmed that low PTEN or activating mutation in PIK3CA conferred resistance to the trastuzumab regimen (P = .015), whereas low PTEN tumors were associated with a high pathologic complete response rate (P = .007).

Conclusion: Activation of PI3 kinase pathway is associated with trastuzumab resistance, whereas low PTEN predicted for response to lapatinib. These observations support clinical trials with the combination of both agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2009.27.7814DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3058274PMC
January 2011

Epidermal growth factor receptor expression in breast cancer association with biologic phenotype and clinical outcomes.

Cancer 2010 Mar;116(5):1234-42

Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression is associated with aggressive phenotypes in preclinical breast cancer models, but in clinical studies, EGFR has been inconsistently linked to poor outcome. We hypothesized that EGFR expression in human breast tumors, when centrally and uniformly assessed, is associated with an aggressive phenotype and resistance to systemic therapy.

Methods: In a database of 47,286 patients with breast cancer, EGFR status was known on 2567 tumors. EGFR levels were measured centrally by ligand binding assay, and tumors with > or =10 fmol/mg were prospectively deemed positive. Clinical and biological features of EGFR-positive and EGFR-negative tumors were compared. Clinical outcomes were assessed by systemic therapy status.

Results: Of 2567 tumors, 475 (18%) were EGFR positive. EGFR-positive tumors were more common in younger and in black women, were larger, had a higher S-phase fraction, and were more likely to be aneuploid. EGFR-positive tumors were more likely to be HER2-positive (26% vs 16%, P < .0001), but less likely to be estrogen receptor-positive (60% vs 88%, P < .0001) or progesterone receptor-positive (26% vs 65%, P < .0001). In multivariate analyses, EGFR expression independently correlated with worse disease-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4-2.41, P = .007) and overall survival (HR = 1.98, 95% CI, 1.36-2.88, P = .0004) in treated patients, but not in untreated patients.

Conclusions: EGFR expression is more common in breast tumors in younger and black women. It is associated with lower hormone receptor levels, higher proliferation, genomic instability, and HER2 overexpression. It is correlated with higher risk of relapse in patients receiving adjuvant treatment. Blocking EGFR may improve outcome in selected patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.24816DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829330PMC
March 2010

Androgen receptor overexpression induces tamoxifen resistance in human breast cancer cells.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2010 May 17;121(1):1-11. Epub 2009 Jun 17.

Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Although the androgen receptor (AR) is a known clinical target in prostate cancer, little is known about its possible role in breast cancer. We have investigated the role of AR expression in human breast cancer in response to treatment with the antiestrogen tamoxifen. Resistance to tamoxifen is a major problem in treating women with breast cancer. By gene expression profiling, we found elevated AR and reduced estrogen receptor (ER) alpha mRNA in tamoxifen-resistant tumors. Exogenous overexpression of AR rendered ERalpha-positive MCF-7 breast cancer cells resistant to the growth-inhibitory effects of tamoxifen in anchorage-independent growth assays and in xenograft studies in athymic nude mice. AR-overexpressing cells remained sensitive to growth stimulation with dihydrotestosterone. Treatment with the AR antagonist Casodex (bicalutamide) reversed this resistance, demonstrating the involvement of AR signaling in tamoxifen resistance. In AR-overexpressing cells, tamoxifen induced transcriptional activation by ERalpha that could be blocked by Casodex, suggesting that AR overexpression enhances tamoxifen's agonistic properties. Our data suggest a role for AR overexpression as a novel mechanism of hormone resistance, so that AR may offer a new clinical therapeutic target in human breast cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-009-0436-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995248PMC
May 2010

Intrinsic resistance of tumorigenic breast cancer cells to chemotherapy.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2008 May 29;100(9):672-9. Epub 2008 Apr 29.

Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine, 1 Baylor Plaza BCM 600, TX 77030, USA.

Background: Tumorigenic breast cancer cells that express high levels of CD44 and low or undetectable levels of CD24 (CD44(>)/CD24(>/low)) may be resistant to chemotherapy and therefore responsible for cancer relapse. These tumorigenic cancer cells can be isolated from breast cancer biopsies and propagated as mammospheres in vitro. In this study, we aimed to test directly in human breast cancers the effect of conventional chemotherapy or lapatinib (an epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR]/HER2 pathway inhibitor) on this tumorigenic CD44(>) and CD24(>/low) cell population.

Methods: Paired breast cancer core biopsies were obtained from patients with primary breast cancer before and after 12 weeks of treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (n = 31) or, for patients with HER2-positive tumors, before and after 6 weeks of treatment with the EGFR/HER2 inhibitor lapatinib (n = 21). Single-cell suspensions established from these biopsies were stained with antibodies against CD24, CD44, and lineage markers and analyzed by flow cytometry. The potential of cells from biopsy samples taken before and after treatment to form mammospheres in culture was compared. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Chemotherapy treatment increased the percentage of CD44(>)/CD24(>/low) cells (mean at baseline vs 12 weeks, 4.7%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.5% to 5.9%, vs 13.6%, 95% CI = 10.9% to 16.3%; P < .001) and increased mammosphere formation efficiency (MSFE) (mean at baseline vs 12 weeks, 13.3%, 95% CI = 6.0% to 20.6%, vs 53.2%, 95% CI = 42.4% to 64.0%; P < .001). Conversely, lapatinib treatment of patients with HER2-positive tumors led to a non-statistically significant decrease in the percentage of CD44(>)/CD24(>/low) cells (mean at baseline vs 6 weeks, 10.0%, 95% CI = 7.2% to 12.8%, vs 7.5%, 95% CI = 4.1% to 10.9%) and a statistically non-significant decrease in MSFE (mean at baseline vs 6 weeks, 16.1%, 95% CI = 8.7% to 23.5%, vs 10.8%, 95% CI = 4.0% to 17.6%).

Conclusion: These studies provide clinical evidence for a subpopulation of chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer-initiating cells. Lapatinib did not lead to an increase in these tumorigenic cells, and, in combination with conventional therapy, specific pathway inhibitors may provide a therapeutic strategy for eliminating these cells to decrease recurrence and improve long-term survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djn123DOI Listing
May 2008

Molecular profiles of progesterone receptor loss in human breast tumors.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2009 Mar 19;114(2):287-99. Epub 2008 Apr 19.

Dan L Duncan Cancer Center Division of Biostatistics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Background: Patient prognosis and response to endocrine therapy in breast cancer correlate with protein expression of both estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR), with poorer outcome in patients with ER+/PR- compared to ER+/PR+ tumors.

Methods: To better understand the underlying biology of ER+/PR- tumors, we examined RNA expression (n > 1000 tumors) and DNA copy number profiles from five previously published studies of human breast cancers with clinically assigned hormone receptor status (ER+/PR+, ER+/PR-, and ER-/PR-).

Results: We identified an expression "signature" of genes with either elevated or diminished RNA levels specifically in ER+/PR+ compared to ER-/PR- and ER+/PR- tumors. We similarly identified a gene signature specific to ER-/PR- tumors. ER+/PR- tumors, on the other hand, were a mixture of three different subtypes: tumors manifesting the ER+/PR+ signature, tumors manifesting the ER-/PR- signature, and tumors not associating with ER+/PR+ or ER-/PR- tumors (which we considered "true" ER+/PR-). In analyses of both tamoxifen-treated and untreated patients, ER+/PR- breast cancers defined by RNA profiling were associated with poor patient outcome, worse than those with pure ER+/PR+ patterns; these differences were not observed when using clinical assays to assign ER and PR status. ER+/PR- tumors also showed twice as many DNA copy number gains or losses compared to ER+/PR+ and ER-PR- tumors. Targets of transcriptional up-regulation by specific oncogenic pathways, including PI3 K/Akt/mTOR, were enriched in both ER+/PR- and ER-/PR- compared to ER+/PR+ tumors.

Conclusion: ER+/PR- tumors as defined by RNA profiling represent a distinct subset of breast cancer with aggressive features and poor outcome, despite being clinically ER+. Multigene assays derived from our gene signatures could conceivably provide an improved clinical assay for inferring PR status for prognostic and therapeutic purposes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-008-0017-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2635926PMC
March 2009

Gene expression patterns in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded core biopsies predict docetaxel chemosensitivity in breast cancer patients.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2008 Mar 28;108(2):233-40. Epub 2007 Apr 28.

Breast Center and the Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist Hospital, 1 Baylor Plaza, MS 600, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Previously, we had identified gene expression patterns that predicted response to neoadjuvant docetaxel. Other studies have validated that a high Recurrence Score (RS) by the 21-gene RT-PCR assay is predictive of worse prognosis but better response to chemotherapy. We investigated whether tumor expression of these 21 genes and other candidate genes can predict response to docetaxel. Core biopsies from 97 patients were obtained before treatment with neoadjuvant docetaxel (4 cycles, 100 mg/m2 q3 weeks). Three 10-microm FFPE sections were submitted for quantitative RT-PCR assays of 192 genes that were selected from our previous work and the literature. Of the 97 patients, 81 (84%) had sufficient invasive cancer, 80 (82%) had sufficient RNA for QRTPCR assay, and 72 (74%) had clinical response data. Mean age was 48.5 years, and the median tumor size was 6 cm. Clinical complete responses (CR) were observed in 12 (17%), partial responses in 41 (57%), stable disease in 17 (24%), and progressive disease in 2 patients (3%). A significant relationship (P<0.05) between gene expression and CR was observed for 14 genes, including CYBA. CR was associated with lower expression of the ER gene group and higher expression of the proliferation gene group from the 21 gene assay. Of note, CR was more likely with a high RS (P=0.008). We have established molecular profiles of sensitivity to docetaxel. RT-PCR technology provides a potential platform for a predictive test of docetaxel chemosensitivity using small amounts of routinely processed material.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-007-9590-zDOI Listing
March 2008

Clinical response to neoadjuvant docetaxel predicts improved outcome in patients with large locally advanced breast cancers.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2005 Dec;94(3):279-84

Breast Center and the Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Purpose: In the adjuvant setting, taxanes modestly improve clinical outcome and survival. The goal of the present study was to define the efficacy of neoadjuvant docetaxel in treatment-naïve large, locally advanced breast cancers and to better understand docetaxel's mechanism of action by evaluating biomarker modulation in response to treatment.

Patients And Methods: Fifty-one patients were enrolled. Patients received four cycles of docetaxel (100 mg/m2 q3weeks) followed by surgery and four cycles of doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (60/600 mg/m2 q3weeks). Radiation and hormonal therapy were given if clinically indicated. Clinical responses were assessed at completion of neoadjuvant docetaxel. Pathological responses were considered complete (pCR) if no tumor cells were identified in the surgical specimen or near complete (npCR) if only occasional scattered tumor cells were seen. Proliferation (Ki-67) and apoptosis (cleaved caspase-3) were measured by IHC in tissue obtained at baseline and at surgery.

Results: The median tumor size was 9 cm (range 4-30 cm). Objective response rate was 75% with clinical complete response in 27%, partial response in 48%, and stable disease in 25% of the patients. pCR/npCR was reported in 20% of patients. With a median follow up of 28 months, 98 and 78% of the patients were alive at 12 and 24 months, respectively. Overall survival at 24 months was significantly better in patients who achieved a clinical response, 85 versus 51%, p = 0.008, but pCR/npCR was not a significant predictor of outcome. Apoptosis was induced in clinical responders (p = 0.002), while the proliferation index did not change significantly. In patients who had no clinical response to docetaxel, neither apoptosis nor proliferation changed significantly.

Conclusion: Neoadjuvant single agent docetaxel is effective in treating patients with large locally advanced breast cancer and clinical response is associated with improved survival. Docetaxel acts therapeutically by inducing apoptosis and this can be used as a marker of response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-005-9020-zDOI Listing
December 2005

Estrogen receptor positivity in mammary tumors of Wnt-1 transgenic mice is influenced by collaborating oncogenic mutations.

Oncogene 2005 Jun;24(26):4220-31

Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, N1210.03, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

The majority (75%) of human breast cancers express estrogen receptor (ER). Although ER-positive tumors usually respond to antiestrogen therapies, 30% of them do not. It is not known what controls the ER status of breast cancers or their responsiveness to antihormone interventions. In this report, we document that transgenic (TG) expression of Wnt-1 in mice induces ER-positive tumors. Loss of Pten or gain of Ras mutations during the evolution of tumors in Wnt-1 TG mice has no effect on the expression of ER, but overexpression of Neu or loss of p53 leads to ER-negative tumors. Thus, our results provide compelling evidence that expression of ER in breast cancer may be influenced by specific genetic changes that promote cancer progression. These findings constitute a first step to explore the molecular mechanisms leading to ER-positive or ER-negative mammary tumors. In addition, we find that ER-positive tumors arising in Wnt-1 TG mice are refractory to both ovariectomy and the ER antagonist tamoxifen, but lose ER expression with tamoxifen, suggesting that antiestrogen selects for ER-negative tumor cells and that the ER-positive cell fraction is dispensable for growth of these tumors. This is a first report of a mouse model of antiestrogen-resistant ER-positive breast cancers, and could provide a powerful tool to study the molecular mechanisms that control antiestrogen resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.onc.1208597DOI Listing
June 2005

Patterns of resistance and incomplete response to docetaxel by gene expression profiling in breast cancer patients.

J Clin Oncol 2005 Feb;23(6):1169-77

Breast Center, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 1 Baylor Plaza, MS 600, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Purpose: Chemotherapy for operable breast cancer decreases the risk of death. Docetaxel is one of the most active agents in breast cancer, but resistance or incomplete response is frequent.

Patients And Methods: Core biopsies from 24 patients were obtained before treatment with neoadjuvant docetaxel (four cycles, 100 mg/m(2) every 3 weeks), and response was assessed after chemotherapy. After 3 months of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, surgical specimens (n = 13) were obtained, and laser capture microdissection (LCM; n = 8) was performed to enrich for tumor cells. From each core, surgical, and LCM specimen, sufficient total RNA (3 to 6 microg) was extracted for cDNA array analysis using the Affymetrix HgU95-Av2 GeneChip (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA).

Results: From the initial core biopsies, differential patterns of expression of 92 genes correlated with docetaxel response (P = .001). However, the molecular patterns of the residual cancers after 3 months of docetaxel treatment were strikingly similar, independent of initial sensitivity or resistance. This relative genetic homogeneity after treatment was observed in both LCM and non-LCM surgical specimens. The residual tumor after treatment in tumors that were initially sensitive indicates selection of a residual and resistant subpopulation of cells. The gene expression pattern was populated by genes involved in cell cycle arrest at G(2)M (eg, mitotic cyclins and cdc2) and survival pathways involving the mammalian target of rapamycin.

Conclusion: A specific and consistent gene expression pattern was found in residual tumors after docetaxel treatment. These profiles provide therapeutic targets that could lead to improved treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2005.03.156DOI Listing
February 2005

Neoadjuvant trastuzumab induces apoptosis in primary breast cancers.

J Clin Oncol 2005 Apr 14;23(11):2460-8. Epub 2005 Feb 14.

Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine/The Methodist Hospital, 1 Baylor Plaza, MS 600, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Purpose: Greater understanding of the cellular response in trastuzumab-treated patients will provide insight into the clinical management of patients.

Patients And Methods: We performed a neoadjuvant trial in 35 patients with locally advanced HER-2/neu overexpressing breast cancers who received weekly trastuzumab given as a single agent for the first 3 weeks, followed by a combination of trastuzumab and docetaxel for 12 weeks before surgery. Sequential core biopsies were taken at baseline and within weeks 1 and 3 after the first dose of trastuzumab. Clinical response to trastuzumab was assessed by tumor measurements on day 22 before chemotherapy. Core biopsies were assessed by immunohistochemistry for cell cycle and proliferation (Ki67, p27, phosphorylated [p] -MAPK), apoptosis and survival (apoptotic index, p-Akt), epidermal growth factor receptor, and total and p-HER-2.

Results: There was early tumor regression with a median decrease of -20.0% (range. 0% to 60.4%) after only 3 weeks of trastuzumab, and eight patients (23%) had a partial response. Consistent with the clinical regressions, apoptosis was significantly induced (median increase from 3.5% to 4.7%; P = .006) within week 1, a 35% increase above baseline. No significant change in epidermal growth factor receptor score was observed in week 1, without changes in total or p-HER-2 expression. Tumors with high baseline Ki67 were less likely to respond (P = .02).

Conclusion: In primary breast cancers, trastuzumab substantially induces apoptosis, providing a molecular explanation for both its therapeutic efficacy and its successful combination with cytotoxic chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2005.00.661DOI Listing
April 2005

Advances in breast cancer treatment and prevention: preclinical studies on aromatase inhibitors and new selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).

Breast Cancer Res 2003 28;5(5):228-31. Epub 2003 Jul 28.

The Breast Center, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Intensive basic and clinical research over the past 20 years has yielded crucial molecular understanding into how estrogen and the estrogen receptor act to regulate breast cancer and has led to the development of more effective, less toxic, and safer hormonal therapy agents for breast cancer management and prevention. Selective potent aromatase inhibitors are now challenging the hitherto gold standard of hormonal therapy, the selective estrogen-receptor modulator tamoxifen. Furthermore, new selective estrogen-receptor modulators such as arzoxifene, currently under clinical development, offer the possibility of selecting one with a more ideal pharmacological profile for treatment and prevention of breast cancer. Two recent studies in preclinical model systems that evaluate mechanisms of action of these new drugs and suggestions about their optimal clinical use are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/bcr626DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC314430PMC
October 2003

Gene expression profiling for the prediction of therapeutic response to docetaxel in patients with breast cancer.

Lancet 2003 Aug;362(9381):362-9

Breast Center and the Departments of Medicine, Pathology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Background: Systemic chemotherapy for operable breast cancer substantially decreases the risk of death. Patients often have de novo resistance or incomplete response to docetaxel, one of the most active agents in this disease. We postulated that gene expression profiles of the primary breast cancer can predict the response to docetaxel.

Methods: We took core biopsy samples from primary breast tumours in 24 patients before treatment and then assessed tumour response to neoadjuvant docetaxel (four cycles, 100 mg/m2 daily for 3 weeks) by cDNA analysis of RNA extracted from biopsy samples using HgU95-Av2 GeneChip.

Findings: From the core biopsy samples, we extracted sufficient total RNA (3-6 microg) for cDNA array analysis using HgU95-Av2 GeneChip. Differential patterns of expression of 92 genes correlated with docetaxel response (p=0.001). Sensitive tumours had higher expression of genes involved in cell cycle, cytoskeleton, adhesion, protein transport, protein modification, transcription, and stress or apoptosis; whereas resistant tumours showed increased expression of some transcriptional and signal transduction genes. In leave-one-out cross-validation analysis, ten of 11 sensitive tumours (90% specificity) and 11 of 13 resistant tumours (85% sensitivity) were correctly classified, with an accuracy of 88%. This 92-gene predictor had positive and negative predictive values of 92% and 83%, respectively. Correlation between RNA expression measured by the arrays and semiquantitative RT-PCR was also ascertained, and our results were validated in an independent set of six patients.

Interpretation: If validated, these molecular profiles could allow development of a clinical test for docetaxel sensitivity, thus reducing unnecessary treatment for women with breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14023-8DOI Listing
August 2003

Role of the estrogen receptor coactivator AIB1 (SRC-3) and HER-2/neu in tamoxifen resistance in breast cancer.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2003 Mar;95(5):353-61

Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Background: AIB1 (SRC-3) is an estrogen receptor (ER) coactivator that, when overexpressed in cultured cells, can reduce the antagonist activity of tamoxifen-bound ERs. Signaling through the HER-2 receptor pathway activates AIB1 by phosphorylation. To determine whether high AIB1 expression alone or together with HER-2 reduces the effectiveness of tamoxifen in breast cancer patients, we quantified expression of AIB1 and HER-2 in tumors from breast cancer patients with long-term clinical follow-up who received either no adjuvant therapy or adjuvant tamoxifen therapy after breast cancer surgery.

Methods: AIB1 and HER-2 protein levels in tumors from 316 breast cancer patients were determined using western blot analysis. Molecular variables (e.g., expression of AIB1, ER, progesterone receptor, p53, Bcl-2), tumor characteristics, and patient outcome were assessed using Spearman rank correlation. Disease-free survival (DFS) curves were derived from Kaplan-Meier estimates, and the curves were compared by log-rank tests. The effect of AIB1 on DFS adjusted for other prognostic factors was assessed by multivariable analysis using the Cox proportional hazards model. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: High AIB1 expression in patients not receiving adjuvant tamoxifen therapy was associated with better prognosis and longer DFS (P =.018, log-rank test). In contrast, for patients who did receive tamoxifen therapy, high AIB1 expression was associated with worse DFS (P =.049, log-rank test), which is indicative of tamoxifen resistance. The test for interaction between AIB1 expression and tamoxifen therapy was statistically significant (P =.004). When expression of AIB1 and HER-2 were considered together, patients whose tumors expressed high levels of both AIB1 and HER-2 had worse outcomes with tamoxifen therapy than all other patients combined (P =.002, log-rank test).

Conclusions: The antitumor activity of tamoxifen in patients with breast cancer may be determined, in part, by tumor levels of AIB1 and HER-2. Thus, AIB1 may be an important diagnostic and therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/95.5.353DOI Listing
March 2003