Tumor-specific apoptosis caused by deletion of the ERBB3 pseudo-kinase in mouse intestinal epithelium.
ABSTRACT: Pharmacologic blockade of EGFR or the closely related receptor ERBB2 has modest efficacy against colorectal cancers in the clinic. Although the upregulation of ERBB3, a pseudo-kinase member of the EGFR/ERBB family, is known to contribute to EGFR inhibitor resistance in other cancers, its functions in normal and malignant intestinal epithelium have not been defined. We have shown here that the intestinal epithelium of mice with intestine-specific genetic ablation of Erbb3 exhibits no cytological abnormalities but does exhibit loss of expression of ERBB4 and sensitivity to intestinal damage. By contrast, intestine-specific Erbb3 ablation resulted in almost complete absence of intestinal tumors in the ApcMin mouse model of colon cancer. Unlike nontransformed epithelium lacking ERBB3, intestinal tumors lacking ERBB3 had reduced PI3K/AKT signaling, which led to attenuation of tumorigenesis via a tumor-specific increase in caspase-3-mediated apoptosis. Consistent with the mouse data, which suggest that ERBB3-ERBB4 heterodimers contribute to colon cancer survival, experimentally induced loss of ERBB3 in a KRAS mutant human colon cancer cell line was associated with loss of ERBB4 expression, and siRNA knockdown of either ERBB3 or ERBB4 resulted in elevated levels of apoptosis. These results indicate that the ERBB3 pseudo-kinase has essential roles in supporting intestinal tumorigenesis and suggest that ERBB3 may be a promising target for the treatment of colorectal cancers.
Project description:ErbB3 (HER3) is a member of the EGF receptor (EGFR) family of receptor tyrosine kinases, which, unlike the other three family members, contains a pseudo kinase in place of a tyrosine kinase domain. In cancer, ErbB3 activation is driven by a ligand-dependent mechanism through the formation of heterodimers with EGFR, ErbB2, or ErbB4 or via a ligand-independent process through heterodimerization with ErbB2 overexpressed in breast tumors or other cancers. Here we describe the crystal structure of the Fab fragment of an antagonistic monoclonal antibody KTN3379, currently in clinical development in human cancer patients, in complex with the ErbB3 extracellular domain. The structure reveals a unique allosteric mechanism for inhibition of ligand-dependent or ligand-independent ErbB3-driven cancers by binding to an epitope that locks ErbB3 in an inactive conformation. Given the similarities in the mechanism of ErbB receptor family activation, these findings could facilitate structure-based design of antibodies that inhibit EGFR and ErbB4 by an allosteric mechanism.
Project description:Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States. Failure may be due to variable expression and/or complex interactions of growth factor receptors in individual tumors. As ErbB3-MET cooperativity is implicated in solid tumor resistance to EGFR/ErbB2 inhibitors, we evaluated expression of MET and all 4 ErbB family members in ovarian cancers. Tissue arrays were prepared from archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor samples, including 202 ovarian carcinomas (Stage I-IV) and controls. Of 202 patient samples, only 25% were positive for EGFR and 35% for ErbB2 expression. ErbB3, ErbB4, and MET showed marked expression in 76%, 98%, and 96% of cases. Consistent with high incidence, there was no significant correlation for expression of ErbB3, ErbB4, or MET with outcome. On the basis of their high expression in the majority of cases, inhibitors targeting ErbB3, ErbB4, and/or MET may be broadly applicable as therapeutic agents in this disease.
Project description:ErbB3/HER3 is one of four members of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/HER) or ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase family. ErbB3 binds neuregulins via its extracellular region and signals primarily by heterodimerizing with ErbB2/HER2/Neu. A recently appreciated role for ErbB3 in resistance of tumor cells to EGFR/ErbB2-targeted therapeutics has made it a focus of attention. However, efforts to inactivate ErbB3 therapeutically in parallel with other ErbB receptors are challenging because its intracellular kinase domain is thought to be an inactive pseudokinase that lacks several key conserved (and catalytically important) residues-including the catalytic base aspartate. We report here that, despite these sequence alterations, ErbB3 retains sufficient kinase activity to robustly trans-autophosphorylate its intracellular region--although it is substantially less active than EGFR and does not phosphorylate exogenous peptides. The ErbB3 kinase domain binds ATP with a K(d) of approximately 1.1 microM. We describe a crystal structure of ErbB3 kinase bound to an ATP analogue, which resembles the inactive EGFR and ErbB4 kinase domains (but with a shortened alphaC-helix). Whereas mutations that destabilize this configuration activate EGFR and ErbB4 (and promote EGFR-dependent lung cancers), a similar mutation conversely inactivates ErbB3. Using quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics simulations, we delineate a reaction pathway for ErbB3-catalyzed phosphoryl transfer that does not require the conserved catalytic base and can be catalyzed by the "inactive-like" configuration observed crystallographically. These findings suggest that ErbB3 kinase activity within receptor dimers may be crucial for signaling and could represent an important therapeutic target.
Project description:Ablation of the kinases Mst1 and Mst2, orthologs of the Drosophila antiproliferative kinase Hippo, from mouse intestinal epithelium caused marked expansion of an undifferentiated stem cell compartment and loss of secretory cells throughout the small and large intestine. Although median survival of mice lacking intestinal Mst1/Mst2 is 13 wk, adenomas of the distal colon are common by this age. Diminished phosphorylation, enhanced abundance, and nuclear localization of the transcriptional coactivator Yes-associated protein 1 (Yap1) is evident in Mst1/Mst2-deficient intestinal epithelium, as is strong activation of ?-catenin and Notch signaling. Although biallelic deletion of Yap1 from intestinal epithelium has little effect on intestinal development, inactivation of a single Yap1 allele reduces Yap1 polypeptide abundance to nearly wild-type levels and, despite the continued Yap hypophosphorylation and preferential nuclear localization, normalizes epithelial structure. Thus, supraphysiologic Yap polypeptide levels are necessary to drive intestinal stem cell proliferation. Yap is overexpressed in 68 of 71 human colon cancers and in at least 30 of 36 colon cancer-derived cell lines. In colon-derived cell lines where Yap is overabundant, its depletion strongly reduces ?-catenin and Notch signaling and inhibits proliferation and survival. These findings demonstrate that Mst1 and Mst2 actively suppress Yap1 abundance and action in normal intestinal epithelium, an antiproliferative function that frequently is overcome in colon cancer through Yap1 polypeptide overabundance. The dispensability of Yap1 in normal intestinal homeostasis and its potent proliferative and prosurvival actions when overexpressed in colon cancer make it an attractive therapeutic target.
Project description:Background:Somatic mutations in the ERBB genes (epidermal growth factor receptor: EGFR, ERBB2, ERBB3, ERBB4) promote oncogenesis and lapatinib resistance in metastatic HER2+ (human epidermal growth factor-like receptor 2) breast cancer in vitro. Our study aimed to determine the frequency of mutations in four genes: EGFR, ERBB2, ERBB3 and ERBB4 and to investigate whether these mutations affect cellular behaviour and therapy response in vitro and outcomes after adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy in clinical samples. Methods:We performed Agena MassArray analysis of 227 HER2+ breast cancer samples to identify the type and frequency of ERBB family mutations. Of these, two mutations, the somatic mutations ERBB4-V721I and ERBB4-S303F, were stably transfected into HCC1954 (PIK3CA mutant), HCC1569 (PIK3CA wildtype) and BT474 (PIK3CA mutant, ER positive) HER2+ breast cancer cell lines for functional in vitro experiments. Results:A total of 12 somatic, likely deleterious mutations in the kinase and furin-like domains of the ERBB genes (3 EGFR, 1 ERBB2, 3 ERBB3, 5 ERBB4) were identified in 7% of HER2+ breast cancers, with ERBB4 the most frequently mutated gene. The ERBB4-V721I kinase domain mutation significantly increased 3D-colony formation in 3/3 cell lines, whereas ERBB4-S303F did not increase growth rate or 3D colony formation in vitro. ERBB4-V721I sensitized HCC1569 cells (PIK3CA wildtype) to the pan class I PI3K inhibitor copanlisib but increased resistance to the pan-HER family inhibitor afatinib. The combinations of copanlisib with trastuzumab, lapatinib, or afatinib remained synergistic regardless of ERBB4-V721I or ERBB4-S303F mutation status. Conclusions:ERBB gene family mutations, which are present in 7% of our HER2+ breast cancer cohort, may have the potential to alter cellular behaviour and the efficacy of HER- and PI3K-inhibition.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The ErbB family consists of four proteins including (EGFR)/ErbB1, ErbB2, ErbB3, and ErbB4, and plays a crucial role in the promotion of multiple tumorigenic processes. In addition to the traditional pathways of EGFR signaling, EGFR translocates to the nucleus and acts as a transcription factor in the proliferation of cancer cells. Heregulin is known as both an ErbB3 and an ErbB4 ligand. This study aimed to investigate the expression of heregulin and its relevant EGFR family members as well as their phosphorylated forms in human colorectal cancer (CRC) tissues and to determine the relationship between their expression and clinicopathological factors including patient prognosis. METHODS: We analyzed the effects of exogenous heregulin on ErbB2, ErbB3 and ErbB4 phosphorylation in Caco-2, DLD-1, and HCT 116 colon cancer cell lines by western blot analysis. We examined 155 surgical resections from colorectomy patients. Cellular localization of ErbB1-4, their phosphorylated forms and heregulin protein was analyzed in CRC surgical resections by immunohistochemical analysis. Immunohistochemical results were compared with clinicopathological factors and patient prognosis. RESULTS: Phosphorylated ErbB2 (pErbB2) and phosphorylated ErbB3 (pErbB3) were detected in both nuclear and cytosolic fractions of Caco-2 and DLD-1 cells stimulated by exogenous heregulin. Whereas, phosphorylated ErbB4 (pErbB4) was detected only in cytosolic fractions of HCT 116 cells stimulated by exogenous heregulin. Phosphorylated EGFR (pEGFR) immunoreactivity was observed in the cytoplasm and nuclei of cancer cells, whereas the pattern of EGFR staining was membranous and cytoplasmic. Subcellular localization of pErbB2, cytoplasmic, membranous, or nuclear, varied among cases. pErbB3 immunoreactivity was exclusively observed in the nuclei of cancer cells. pErbB4 immunoreactivity was observed in the cell membrane of cancer cells. Statistically, heregulin immunoreactivity correlated with pErbB2 and pErbB4 expression. In multivariate analysis for disease free survival, lymph node status, pErbB3 and pErbB4 expression retained independent prognostic significance. In multivariate analysis for overall survival, lymph node status, pEGFR and pErbB4 retained independent prognostic significance. CONCLUSIONS: ErbB2 and ErbB3 phosphorylated by heregulin localized in the nucleus of CRC cells. Phosphorylated ErbB1-4 and heregulin contribute to poorer patient prognosis in CRC. This heregulin-ErbB family member autocrine loop may be a candidate for targeted treatment of CRC.
Project description:The four members of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ERBB) family form homo- and heterodimers which mediate ligand-specific regulation of many key cellular processes in normal and cancer tissues. While signaling through the EGFR has been extensively studied on the molecular level, signal transduction through ERBB3/ERBB4 heterodimers is less well understood. Here, we generated isogenic mouse Ba/F3 cells that express full-length and functional membrane-integrated ERBB3 and ERBB4 or ERBB4 alone, to serve as a defined cellular model for biological and phosphoproteomics analysis of ERBB3/ERBB4 signaling. ERBB3 co-expression significantly enhanced Ba/F3 cell proliferation upon neuregulin-1 (NRG1) treatment. For comprehensive signaling studies we performed quantitative mass spectrometry (MS) experiments to compare the basal ERBB3/ERBB4 cell phosphoproteome to NRG1 treatment of ERBB3/ERBB4 and ERBB4 cells. We employed a workflow comprising differential isotope labeling with mTRAQ reagents followed by chromatographic peptide separation and final phosphopeptide enrichment prior to MS analysis. Overall, we identified 9686 phosphorylation sites which could be confidently localized to specific residues. Statistical analysis of three replicate experiments revealed 492 phosphorylation sites which were significantly changed in NRG1-treated ERBB3/ERBB4 cells. Bioinformatics data analysis recapitulated regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and Akt pathways, but also indicated signaling links to cytoskeletal functions and nuclear biology. Comparative assessment of NRG1-stimulated ERBB4 Ba/F3 cells revealed that ERBB3 did not trigger defined signaling pathways but more broadly enhanced phosphoproteome regulation in cells expressing both receptors. In conclusion, our data provide the first global picture of ERBB3/ERBB4 signaling and provide numerous potential starting points for further mechanistic studies.
Project description:The human ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases comprises the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ErbB1/HER1), ErbB2 (HER2/Neu), ErbB3 (HER3), and ErbB4 (HER4). ErbBs play fundamental roles in cell growth and differentiation events in embryonic and adult tissues, and inappropriate ErbB activity has been implicated in several human cancers. We report here the 2.4 A crystal structure of the extracellular region of human ErbB4 in the absence of ligand and show that it adopts a tethered conformation similar to inactive forms of ErbB1 and ErbB3. This structure completes the gallery of unliganded ErbB receptors and demonstrates that all human ligand-binding ErbBs adopt the autoinhibited conformation. We also show that the binding of neuregulin-1beta to ErbB4 and ErbB3 and the binding of betacellulin to both ErbB4 and ErbB1 does not decrease at low pH, unlike the binding of epidermal growth factor and transforming growth factor-alpha to ErbB1. These results indicate an important role for ligand in determining pH-dependent binding and may explain different responses observed when the same ErbB receptor is stimulated by different ligands.
Project description:During pregnancy, as the mammary gland prepares for synthesis and delivery of milk to newborns, a luminal mammary epithelial cell (MEC) subpopulation proliferates rapidly in response to systemic hormonal cues that activate STAT5A. While the receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB4 is required for STAT5A activation in MECs during pregnancy, it is unclear how ErbB3, a heterodimeric partner of ErbB4 and activator of phosphatidyl inositol-3 kinase (PI3K) signaling, contributes to lactogenic expansion of the mammary gland.We assessed mRNA expression levels by expression microarray of mouse mammary glands harvested throughout pregnancy and lactation. To study the role of ErbB3 in mammary gland lactogenesis, we used transgenic mice expressing WAP-driven Cre recombinase to generate a mouse model in which conditional ErbB3 ablation occurred specifically in alveolar mammary epithelial cells (aMECs).Profiling of RNA from mouse MECs isolated throughout pregnancy revealed robust Erbb3 induction during mid-to-late pregnancy, a time point when aMECs proliferate rapidly and undergo differentiation to support milk production. Litters nursed by ErbB3 KO dams weighed significantly less when compared to litters nursed by ErbB3 WT dams. Further analysis revealed substantially reduced epithelial content, decreased aMEC proliferation, and increased aMEC cell death during late pregnancy. Consistent with the potent ability of ErbB3 to activate cell survival through the PI3K/Akt pathway, we found impaired Akt phosphorylation in ErbB3 KO samples, as well as impaired expression of STAT5A, a master regulator of lactogenesis. Constitutively active Akt rescued cell survival in ErbB3-depleted aMECs, but failed to restore STAT5A expression or activity. Interestingly, defects in growth and survival of ErbB3 KO aMECs as well as Akt phosphorylation, STAT5A activity, and expression of milk-encoding genes observed in ErbB3 KO MECs progressively improved between late pregnancy and lactation day 5. We found a compensatory upregulation of ErbB4 activity in ErbB3 KO mammary glands. Enforced ErbB4 expression alleviated the consequences of ErbB3 ablation in aMECs, while combined ablation of both ErbB3 and ErbB4 exaggerated the phenotype.These studies demonstrate that ErbB3, like ErbB4, enhances lactogenic expansion and differentiation of the mammary gland during pregnancy, through activation of Akt and STAT5A, two targets crucial for lactation.
Project description:Probiotic bacteria can potentially have beneficial effects on the clinical course of several intestinal disorders, but our understanding of probiotic action is limited. We have identified a probiotic bacteria-derived soluble protein, p40, from Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), which prevents cytokine-induced apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells. In the current study, we analyzed the mechanisms by which p40 regulates cellular responses in intestinal epithelial cells and p40's effects on experimental colitis using mouse models. We show that the recombinant p40 protein activated EGFR, leading to Akt activation. Activation of EGFR by p40 was required for inhibition of cytokine-induced apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells in vitro and ex vivo. Furthermore, we developed a pectin/zein hydrogel bead system to specifically deliver p40 to the mouse colon, which activated EGFR in colon epithelial cells. Administration of p40-containing beads reduced intestinal epithelial apoptosis and disruption of barrier function in the colon epithelium in an EGFR-dependent manner, thereby preventing and treating DSS-induced intestinal injury and acute colitis. Furthermore, p40 activation of EGFR was required for ameliorating colon epithelial cell apoptosis and chronic inflammation in oxazolone-induced colitis. These data define what we believe to be a previously unrecognized mechanism of probiotic-derived soluble proteins in protecting the intestine from injury and inflammation.