EPMA J 2014 Jan 25;5(1). Epub 2014 Jan 25.
Department of Pathology, Medical School, University of Malta, Msida MSD2090, Malta.
Background: The most commonly used biomarkers to predict the response of breast cancer patients to therapy are the oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Patients positive for these biomarkers are eligible for specific therapies such as endocrine treatment in the event of ER and PgR positivity, and the monoclonal antibody, trastuzumab, in the case of HER2-positive patients. Patients who are negative for these three biomarkers, the so-called triple negatives, however, derive little benefit from such therapies and are associated with a worse prognosis. Deregulation of the protein serine/threonine phosphatase type 2A (PP2A) and its regulatory subunits is a common event in breast cancer, providing a possible target for therapy.
Methods: The data portal, cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics was used to investigate the incidence of conditions that are associated with low phosphatase activity. Four (4) adherent human breast cancer cell lines, MDA-MB-468, MDA-MB-436, Hs578T and BT-20 were cultured to assess their viability when exposed to various dosages of rapamycin or FTY720. In addition, RNA was extracted and cDNA was synthesised to amplify the coding sequence of PPP2CA. Amplification was followed by high-resolution melting to identify variations.
Results And Conclusion: The sequence of PPP2CA was found to be conserved across a diverse panel of solid tumour and haematological cell lines, suggesting that low expression of PPP2CA and differential binding of inhibitory PPP2CA regulators are the main mechanisms of PP2A deregulation. Interestingly, the cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics shows that PP2A is deregulated in 59.6% of basal breast tumours. Viability assays performed to determine the sensitivity of a panel of breast cancer cell lines to FTY720, a PP2A activator, indicated that cell lines associated with ER loss are sensitive to lower doses of FTY720. The subset of patients with suppressed PP2A activity is potentially eligible for treatment using therapies which target the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, such as phosphatase activators.