Publications by authors named "Yen-Chao Wang"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

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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September 2015

Upregulation of mucin4 in ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer xenografts with acquired resistance to endocrine and HER2-targeted therapies.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2012 Jul 29;134(2):583-93. Epub 2012 May 29.

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

We studied resistance to endocrine and HER2-targeted therapies using a xenograft model of estrogen receptor positive (ER)/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. Here, we report a novel phenotype of drug resistance in this model. MCF7/HER2-18 xenografts were treated with endocrine therapy alone or in combination with lapatinib and trastuzumab (LT) to inhibit HER2. Archival tumor tissues were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and with mucicarmine. RNA extracted from tumors at early time points and late after acquired resistance were analyzed for mucin4 (MUC4) expression by microarray and quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. Protein expression of the MUC4, ER, and HER2 signaling pathways was measured by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. The combination of the potent anti-HER2 regimen LT with either tamoxifen (Tam + LT) or estrogen deprivation (ED + LT) can cause complete eradication of ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing tumors in mice. Tumors developing resistance to this combination, as well as those acquiring resistance to endocrine therapy alone, exhibited a distinct histological and molecular phenotype-a striking increase in mucin-filled vacuoles and upregulation of several mucins including MUC4. At the onset of resistance, MUC4 mRNA and protein were increased. These tumors also showed upregulation and reactivation of HER2 signaling, while losing ER protein and the estrogen-regulated gene progesterone receptor. Mucins are upregulated in a preclinical model of ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer as resistance develops to the combination of endocrine and anti-HER2 therapy. These mucin-rich tumors reactivate the HER2 pathway and shift their molecular phenotype to become more ER-negative/HER2-positive.
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July 2012

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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June 2012

β1 integrin mediates an alternative survival pathway in breast cancer cells resistant to lapatinib.

Breast Cancer Res 2011 Aug 31;13(4):R84. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77054, USA.

Introduction: The overexpression of human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2 in 20% of human breast cancers and its association with aggressive growth has led to widespread use of HER2-targeted therapies, such as trastuzumab (T) and lapatinib (L). Despite the success of these drugs, their efficacy is limited in patients whose tumors demonstrate de novo or acquired resistance to treatment. The β1 integrin resides on the membrane of the breast cancer cell, activating several elements of breast tumor progression including proliferation and survival.

Methods: We developed a panel of HER2-overexpressing cell lines resistant to L, T, and the potent LT combination through long-term exposure and validated these models in 3D culture. Parental and L/T/LT-resistant cells were subject to HER2 and β1 integrin inhibitors in 3D and monitored for 12 days, followed by quantification of colony number. Parallel experiments were conducted where cells were either stained for Ki-67 and Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) or harvested for protein and analyzed by immunoblot. Results were subjected to statistical testing using analysis of variance and linear contrasts, followed by adjustment with the Sidak method.

Results: Using multiple cell lines including BT474 and HCC1954, we reveal that in L and LT resistance, where phosphorylation of EGFR/HER1, HER2, and HER3 are strongly inhibited, kinases downstream of β1 integrin--including focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and Src--are up-regulated. Blockade of β1 by the antibody AIIB2 abrogates this up-regulation and functionally achieves significant growth inhibition of L and LT resistant cells in 3D, without dramatically affecting the parental cells. SiRNA against β1 as well as pharmacologic inhibition of FAK achieve the same growth inhibitory effect. In contrast, trastuzumab-resistant cells, which retain high levels of phosphorylated EGFR/HER1, HER2, and HER3, are only modestly growth-inhibited by AIIB2.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that HER2 activity, which is suppressed in resistance involving L but not T alone, dictates whether β1 mediates an alternative pathway driving resistance. Our findings justify clinical studies investigating the inhibition of β1 or its downstream signaling moieties as strategies to overcome acquired L and LT resistance.
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August 2011

Reduced dose and intermittent treatment with lapatinib and trastuzumab for potent blockade of the HER pathway in HER2/neu-overexpressing breast tumor xenografts.

Clin Cancer Res 2011 Mar 7;17(6):1351-61. Epub 2010 Dec 7.

Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Margaret M and Albert B Alkek Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

Purpose: We have shown that incomplete blockade of the human epidermal growth factor (HER) pathway is a mechanism of resistance to treatment with trastuzumab (T) in HER2-overexpressing tumor xenografts. We now investigate whether the addition of lapatinib (L), a dual HER1/2 kinase inhibitor, to T results in more potent inhibition of the pathway and therefore inhibition of tumor growth, and whether reduced dose and intermittent treatment with the combination is equally effective.

Experimental Design: Nude mice bearing HER2-overexpressing MCF7/HER2-18 or BT-474 xenograft tumors were treated with L and T, alone or in various combinations with other HER inhibitors. L + T for short duration (14 and 42 days), intermittent administration (14 days on/off), and reduced dosing (half dose) was also investigated. Inhibition of tumor growth, downstream signaling, proliferation, and induction of apoptosis were assessed. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: L + T was the most effective regimen in both MCF7/HER2-18 and BT-474 xenografts with complete regression (CR) of tumor observed in all mice. Intermittent and reduced dose treatment (½ dose) resulted in high rates of CR and low rates of tumor recurrence that were comparable to full dose continuous treatment. L + T resulted in significantly reduced downstream signaling and proliferation, and increased apoptosis.

Conclusions: L + T is a potent and effective combination even when given in reduced dose or intermittent schedule potentially resulting in lower toxicity and reduced cost if translated to patients. These findings warrant timely clinical testing.
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March 2011