Hydroxychloroquine inhibits autophagy to potentiate antiestrogen responsiveness in ER+ breast cancer.
ABSTRACT: Estrogen receptor-? (ER?)-targeted therapies including tamoxifen (TAM) or Faslodex (ICI) are used to treat ER(+) breast cancers. Up to 50% of tumors will acquire resistance to these interventions. Autophagy has been implicated as a major driver of antiestrogen resistance. We have explored the ability of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which inhibits autophagy, to affect antiestrogen responsiveness.TAM-resistant MCF7-RR and ICI-resistant/TAM cross-resistant LCC9 ER(+) breast cancer cells were injected into mammary fat pads of female athymic mice and treated with TAM and/or ICI in combination with oral low-dose HCQ.We show that HCQ can increase antiestrogen responsiveness in MCF7-RR and LCC9 cells and tumors, likely through the inhibition of autophagy. However, the combination of ICI+HCQ was less effective than HCQ alone in vivo, unlike the TAM+HCQ combination. Antiestrogen treatment stimulated angiogenesis in tumors but did not prevent HCQ effectiveness. The lower efficacy of ICI+HCQ was associated with ICI effects on cell-mediated immunity within the tumor microenvironment. The mouse chemokine KC (CXCL1) and IFN? were differentially regulated by both TAM and ICI treatments, suggesting a possible effect on macrophage development/activity. Consistent with these observations, TAM+HCQ treatment increased tumor CD68(+) cells infiltration, whereas ICI and ICI+HCQ reduced peripheral tumor macrophage content. Moreover, macrophage elimination of breast cancer target cells in vitro was reduced following exposure to ICI.HCQ restores antiestrogen sensitivity to resistant tumors. Moreover, the beneficial combination of TAM+HCQ suggests a positive outcome for ongoing neoadjuvant clinical trials using this combination for the treatment of ER(+) ductal carcinoma in situ lesions.
Project description:Approximately 70% of all newly diagnosed breast cancers express estrogen receptor (ER)-?. Although inhibiting ER action using targeted therapies such as fulvestrant (ICI) is often effective, later emergence of antiestrogen resistance limits clinical use. We used antiestrogen-sensitive and -resistant cells to determine the effect of antiestrogens/ER? on regulating autophagy and unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling. Knockdown of ER? significantly increased the sensitivity of LCC1 cells (sensitive) and also resensitized LCC9 cells (resistant) to antiestrogen drugs. Interestingly, ER? knockdown, but not ICI, reduced nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like (NRF)-2 (UPR-induced antioxidant protein) and increased cytosolic kelch-like ECH-associated protein (KEAP)-1 (NRF2 inhibitor), consistent with the observed increase in ROS production. Furthermore, autophagy induction by antiestrogens was prosurvival but did not prevent ER? knockdown-mediated death. We built a novel mathematical model to elucidate the interactions among UPR, autophagy, ER signaling, and ROS regulation of breast cancer cell survival. The experimentally validated mathematical model explains the counterintuitive result that knocking down the main target of ICI (ER?) increased the effectiveness of ICI. Specifically, the model indicated that ER? is no longer present in excess and that the effect on proliferation from further reductions in its level by ICI cannot be compensated for by increased autophagy. The stimulation of signaling that can confer resistance suggests that combining autophagy or UPR inhibitors with antiestrogens would reduce the development of resistance in some breast cancers.
Project description:BCL2 family members affect cell fate decisions in breast cancer but the role of BCL-W (BCL2L2) is unknown. We now show the integrated roles of the antiapoptotic BCL-W and BCL2 in affecting responsiveness to the antiestrogen ICI 182,780 (ICI; Fulvestrant Faslodex), using both molecular (siRNA; shRNA) and pharmacologic (YC137) approaches in three breast cancer variants; MCF-7/LCC1 (ICI sensitive), MCF-7/LCC9 (ICI resistant), and LY2 (ICI resistant). YC137 inhibits BCL-W and BCL2 and restores ICI sensitivity in resistant cells. Co-inhibition of BCL-W and BCL2 is both necessary and sufficient to restore sensitivity to ICI, and explains mechanistically the action of YC137. These data implicate functional cooperation and/or redundancy in signaling between BCL-W and BCL2, and suggest that broad BCL2 family member inhibitors will have greater therapeutic value than targeting only individual proteins. Whereas ICI sensitive MCF-7/LCC1 cells undergo increased apoptosis in response to ICI following BCL-W+/-BCL2 co-inhibition, the consequent resensitization of resistant MCF-7/LCC9 and LY2 cells reflects increases in autophagy (LC3 cleavage; p62/SQSTM1 expression) and necrosis but not apoptosis or cell cycle arrest. Thus, de novo sensitive cells and resensitized resistant cells die through different mechanisms. Following BCL-W+BCL2 co-inhibition, suppression of functional autophagy by 3-methyladenine or BECN1 shRNA reduces ICI-induced necrosis but restores the ability of resistant cells to die through apoptosis. These data demonstrate the plasticity of cell fate mechanisms in breast cancer cells in the context of antiestrogen responsiveness. Restoration of ICI sensitivity in resistant cells appears to occur through an increase in autophagy-associated necrosis. BCL-W, BCL2, and BECN1 integrate important functions in determining antiestrogen responsiveness, and the presence of functional autophagy may influence the balance between apoptosis and necrosis.
Project description:Antiestrogens are effective therapies for the management of many estrogen receptor-alpha (ER)-positive breast cancers. Nonetheless, both de novo and acquired resistance occur and remain major problems in the clinical setting. IFNgamma is an inflammatory cytokine that induces the expression and function of IFN regulatory factor 1 (IRF1), a tumor suppressor gene that can increase antiestrogen responsiveness. We show that IFNgamma, but not IFNalpha, IFNbeta, or fulvestrant (ICI; ICI 182,780; Faslodex), induces IRF1 expression in antiestrogen-resistant MCF7/LCC9 and LY2 cells. Moreover, IFNgamma restores the responsiveness of these cells to fulvestrant. Increased IRF1 activation suppresses NF-kappaB p65 (RELA) activity, inhibits the expression of prosurvival (BCL2, BCL-W), and induces the expression of proapoptotic members (BAK, mitochondrial BAX) of the BCL2 family. This molecular signaling is associated with the activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 and leads to increased mitochondrial membrane permeability; activation of caspase-7 (CASP7), CASP8, and CASP9; and induction of apoptosis but not autophagy. Whereas antiestrogen-resistant cells are capable of inducing autophagy through IFN-mediated signaling, their ability to do so through antiestrogen-regulated signaling is lost. The abilities of IFNgamma to activate CASP8, induce apoptosis, and restore antiestrogen sensitivity are prevented by siRNA targeting IRF1, whereas transient overexpression of IRF1 mimics the effects of IFNgamma treatment. These observations support the exploration of clinical trials combining antiestrogens and compounds that can induce IRF1, such as IFNgamma, for the treatment of some ER-positive breast cancers.
Project description:Acquired tamoxifen (TAM) resistance is a significant clinical problem in treating patients with estrogen receptor ? (ER?)+ breast cancer. We reported that ER? increases nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1), which regulates nuclear-encoded mitochondrial gene transcription, in MCF-7 breast cancer cells and NRF-1 knockdown stimulates apoptosis. Whether NRF-1 and target gene expression is altered in endocrine resistant breast cancer cells is unknown. We measured NRF-1and metabolic features in a cell model of progressive TAM-resistance. NRF-1 and its target mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) were higher in TAM-resistant LCC2 and LCC9 cells than TAM-sensitive MCF-7 cells. Using extracellular flux assays we observed that LCC1, LCC2, and LCC9 cells showed similar oxygen consumption rate (OCR), but lower mitochondrial reserve capacity which was correlated with lower Succinate Dehydrogenase Complex, Subunit B in LCC1 and LCC2 cells. Complex III activity was lower in LCC9 than MCF-7 cells. LCC1, LCC2, and LCC9 cells had higher basal extracellular acidification (ECAR), indicating higher aerobic glycolysis, relative to MCF-7 cells. Mitochondrial bioenergetic responses to estradiol and 4-hydroxytamoxifen were reduced in the endocrine-resistant cells compared to MCF-7 cells. These results suggest the acquisition of altered metabolic phenotypes in response to long term antiestrogen treatment may increase vulnerability to metabolic stress.
Project description:PURPOSE:We previously identified small molecules that fit into a BRCA1-binding pocket within estrogen receptor-alpha (ER?), mimic the ability of BRCA1 to inhibit ER? activity ("BRCA1-mimetics"), and overcome antiestrogen resistance. One such compound, the hydrochloride salt of NSC35446 ("NSC35446.HCl"), also inhibited the growth of antiestrogen-resistant LCC9 tumor xenografts. The purpose of this study was to investigate the down-stream effects of NSC35446.HCl and its mechanism of action. METHODS:Here, we studied antiestrogen-resistant (LCC9, T47DCO, MCF-7/RR, LY2), ER?-negative (MDA-MB-231, HCC1806, MDA-MB-468), and antiestrogen-sensitive (MCF-7) cell lines. Techniques utilized include RNA-seq, qRT-PCR, cell growth analysis, cell-cycle analysis, Western blotting, luciferase reporter assays, TUNEL assays, in silico analysis of the IKKB gene, and ChIP assays. RESULTS:SC35446.HCl inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in antiestrogen-resistant LCC9, T47DCO, MCF-7/RR, and LY2 cells but not in ER?-negative breast cancer cell lines. IKKB (IKK?, IKBKB), an upstream activator of NF-?B, was identified as a BRCA1-mimetic-regulated gene based on an RNA-seq analysis. NSC35446.HCl inhibited IKKB, IKKA, and IKKG/NEMO mRNA and protein expression in LCC9 cells. NSC35446.HCl also inhibited NF-?B activity and expression of NF-?B target genes. In silico analysis of the IKKB promoter identified nine estrogen response element (ERE) half-sites and one ERE-like full-site. ChIP assays revealed that ER? was recruited to the ERE-like full-site and five of the nine half-sites and that ER? recruitment was inhibited by NSC35446.HCl in LCC9 and T47DCO cells. CONCLUSIONS:These studies identify functional EREs in the IKKB promoter and identify IKKB as an ER? and NSC35446.HCl-regulated gene, and they suggest that NF-?B and IKKB, which were previously linked to antiestrogen resistance, are targets for NSC35446.HCl in reversing antiestrogen resistance.
Project description:Resistance to endocrine therapy remains a clinical challenge in the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. We investigated if adding a traditional Asian herbal mixture consisting of 12 herbs, called Jaeumkanghwa-tang (JEKHT), to tamoxifen (TAM) therapy might prevent resistance and recurrence in the ER+ breast cancer model of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-exposed Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats were divided into four groups treated as follows: 15 mg/kg TAM administered via diet as TAM citrate (TAM only); 500 mg/kg JEKHT administered via drinking water (JEKHT only group); TAM + JEKHT and no treatment control group. The study was replicated using two different batches of JEKHT. In both studies, a significantly higher proportion of ER+ mammary tumors responded to TAM if animals also were treated with JEKHT (experiment 1: 47% vs 65%, P = 0.015; experiment 2: 43% vs 77%, P < 0.001). The risk of local recurrence also was reduced (31% vs 12%, P = 0.002). JEKHT alone was mostly ineffective. In addition, JEKHT prevented the development of premalignant endometrial lesions in TAM-treated rats (20% in TAM only vs 0% in TAM + JEKHT). Co-treatment of antiestrogen-resistant LCC9 human breast cancer cells with 1.6 mg/mL JEKHT reversed their TAM resistance in dose-response studies in vitro. Several traditional herbal medicine preparations can exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and may increase anti-tumor immune activities in the tumor microenvironment. In the tumors of rats treated with both JEKHT and TAM, expression of Il-6 (P = 0.03), Foxp3/T regulatory cell (Treg) marker (P = 0.033) and Tgf?1 that activates Tregs (P < 0.001) were significantly downregulated compared with TAM only group. These findings indicate that JEKHT may prevent TAM-induced evasion of tumor immune responses.
Project description:Antiestrogen therapy resistance remains a huge stumbling block in the treatment of breast cancer. We have found significant elevation of O(6) methylguanine DNA methyl transferase (MGMT) expression in a small sample of consecutive patients who have failed tamoxifen treatment. Here, we show that tamoxifen resistance is accompanied by upregulation of MGMT. Further we show that administration of the MGMT inhibitor, O(6)-benzylguanine (BG), at nontoxic doses, leads to restoration of a favorable estrogen receptor alpha (ER?) phosphorylation phenotype (high p-ER? Ser167/low p-ER? Ser118), which has been reported to correlate with sensitivity to endocrine therapy and improved survival. We also show BG to be a dual inhibitor of MGMT and ER?. In tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells, BG alone or in combination with antiestrogen (tamoxifen [TAM]/ICI 182,780 [fulvestrant, Faslodex]) therapy enhances p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) expression, cytochrome C release and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, all indicative of apoptosis. In addition, BG increases the expression of p21(cip1/waf1). We also show that BG, alone or in combination therapy, curtails the growth of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer in vitro and in vivo. In tamoxifen-resistant MCF7 breast cancer xenografts, BG alone or in combination treatment causes significant delay in tumor growth. Immunohistochemistry confirms that BG increases p21(cip1/waf1) and p-ER? Ser167 expression and inhibits MGMT, ER?, p-ER? Ser118 and ki-67 expression. Collectively, our results suggest that MGMT inhibition leads to growth inhibition of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer in vitro and in vivo and resensitizes tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells to antiestrogen therapy. These findings suggest that MGMT inhibition may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for overcoming antiestrogen resistance.
Project description:About 70% of all breast cancers are estrogen receptor alpha positive (ER+; ESR1). Many are treated with antiestrogens. Unfortunately, de novo and acquired resistance to antiestrogens is common but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Since growth of cancer cells is dependent on adequate energy and metabolites, the metabolomic profile of endocrine resistant breast cancers likely contains features that are deterministic of cell fate. Thus, we integrated data from metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses of ER+ MCF7-derived breast cancer cells that are antiestrogen sensitive (LCC1) or resistant (LCC9) that resulted in a gene-metabolite network associated with EGR1 (early growth response 1). In human ER+ breast tumors treated with endocrine therapy, higher EGR1 expression was associated with a more favorable prognosis. Mechanistic studies showed that knockdown of EGR1 inhibited cell growth in both cells and EGR1 overexpression did not affect antiestrogen sensitivity. Comparing metabolite profiles in LCC9 cells following perturbation of EGR1 showed interruption of lipid metabolism. Tolfenamic acid, an anti-inflammatory drug, decreased EGR1 protein levels and synergized with antiestrogens in inhibiting cell proliferation in LCC9 cells. Collectively, these findings indicate that EGR1 is an important regulator of breast cancer cell metabolism and is a promising target to prevent or reverse endocrine resistance.
Project description:While more than 70% of breast cancers express estrogen receptor-? (ER+), endocrine therapies targeting these receptors often fail. The molecular mechanisms that underlie treatment resistance remain unclear. We investigated the potential role of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) in mediating estrogen resistance. Human breast tumors showed increased GRP78 expression when compared with normal breast tissues. However, GRP78 expression was reduced in ER+ breast tumors compared with HER2-amplifed or triple-negative breast tumors. ER+ antiestrogen-resistant cells and ER+ tumors with an acquired resistant antiestrogen phenotype were both shown to overexpress GRP78, which was not observed in cases of de novo resistance. Knockdown of GRP78 restored antiestrogen sensitivity in resistant cells, and overexpression of GRP78 promoted resistance in sensitive cells. Mechanistically, GRP78 integrated multiple cellular signaling pathways to inhibit apoptosis and stimulate prosurvival autophagy, which was dependent on TSC2/AMPK-mediated mTOR inhibition but not on beclin-1. Inhibition of autophagy prevented GRP78-mediated endocrine resistance, whereas caspase inhibition abrogated the resensitization that resulted from GRP78 loss. Simultaneous knockdown of GRP78 and beclin-1 synergistically restored antiestrogen sensitivity in resistant cells. Together, our findings reveal a novel role for GRP78 in the integration of cellular signaling pathways including the unfolded protein response, apoptosis, and autophagy to determine cell fate in response to antiestrogen therapy.
Project description:Endocrine-resistance develops in ?40% of breast cancer patients after tamoxifen (TAM) therapy. Although microRNAs are dysregulated in breast cancer, their contribution to endocrine-resistance is not yet understood. Previous microarray analysis identified miR-29a and miR-29b-1 as repressed by TAM in MCF-7 endocrine-sensitive breast cancer cells but stimulated by TAM in LY2 endocrine-resistant breast cancer cells. Here we examined the mechanism for the differential regulation of these miRs by TAM in MCF-7 versus TAM-resistant LY2 and LCC9 breast cancer cells and the functional role of these microRNAs in these cells. Knockdown studies revealed that ER? is responsible for TAM regulation of miR-29b-1/a transcription. We also demonstrated that transient overexpression of miR-29b-1/a decreased MCF-7, LCC9, and LY2 proliferation and inhibited LY2 cell migration and colony formation but did not sensitize LCC9 or LY2 cells to TAM. Furthermore, TAM reduced DICER1 mRNA and protein in LY2 cells, a known target of miR-29. Supporting this observation, anti-miR-29b-1 or anti-miR-29a inhibited the suppression of DICER by 4-OHT. These results suggest miR-29b-1/a has tumor suppressor activity in TAM-resistant cells and does not appear to play a role in mediating TAM resistance.