Nat Commun 2016 11 23;7:13567. Epub 2016 Nov 23.
Division of Molecular Genetics, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, CX 1066 Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
In search of oncogenic drivers and mechanisms affecting therapy resistance in breast cancer, we identified Irs4, a poorly studied member of the insulin receptor substrate (IRS) family, as a mammary oncogene by insertional mutagenesis. Whereas normally silent in the postnatal mammary gland, IRS4 is found to be highly expressed in a subset of breast cancers. We show that Irs4 expression in mammary epithelial cells induces constitutive PI3K/AKT pathway hyperactivation, insulin/IGF1-independent cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth and in vivo tumorigenesis. The constitutive PI3K/AKT pathway hyperactivation by IRS4 is unique to the IRS family and we identify the lack of a SHP2-binding domain in IRS4 as the molecular basis of this feature. Finally, we show that IRS4 and ERBB2/HER2 synergistically induce tumorigenesis and that IRS4-expression confers resistance to HER2-targeted therapy. Taken together, our findings present the cellular and molecular mechanisms of IRS4-induced tumorigenesis and establish IRS4 as an oncogenic driver and biomarker for therapy resistance in breast cancer.