The Therapeutic Challenge of Targeting HER2 in Endometrial Cancer.
ABSTRACT: Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States, diagnosed in more than 50,000 women annually. While the majority of women present with low-grade tumors that are cured with surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy, a significant subset of women experience recurrence and do not survive their disease. A disproportionate number of the more than 8,000 annual deaths attributed to endometrial cancer are due to high-grade uterine cancers, highlighting the need for new therapies that target molecular alterations specific to this subset of tumors. Numerous correlative scientific investigations have demonstrated that the HER2 (ERBB2) gene is amplified in 17%-33% of carcinosarcoma, uterine serous carcinoma, and a subset of high-grade endometrioid endometrial tumors. In breast cancer, this potent signature has directed women to anti-HER2-targeted therapies such as trastuzumab and lapatinib. In contrast to breast cancer, therapy with trastuzumab alone revealed no responses in women with recurrent HER2 overexpressing endometrial cancer, suggesting that these tumors may possess acquired or innate trastuzumab resistance mechanisms. This review explores the literature surrounding HER2 expression in endometrial cancer, focusing on trastuzumab and other anti-HER2 therapy and resistance mechanisms characterized in breast cancer but germane to endometrial tumors. Understanding resistance pathways will suggest combination therapies that target both HER2 and key oncogenic escape pathways in endometrial cancer.This review summarizes the role of HER2 in endometrial cancer, with a focus on uterine serous carcinoma. The limitations to date of anti-HER2 therapy in this disease site are examined, and mechanisms of drug resistance are outlined based on the experience in breast cancer. Potential opportunities to overcome inherent resistance to anti-HER2 therapy in endometrial cancer are detailed, offering opportunities for further clinical study with the goal to improve outcomes in this challenging disease.
Project description:Subsets of high grade endometrial cancer (EnCa) over-express HER2 (ERBB2), yet clinical trials have failed to demonstrate any anti-tumor activity utilizing trastuzumab, an approved platform for HER2 positive breast cancer (BrCa). A truncated p95HER2 variant lacking the trastuzumab binding site may confer resistance. The objective of this investigation was to characterize the expression of the p95HER2 truncated variant in EnCa.With institutional approval, 86 high grade EnCa tumors were identified with tumor specimens from surgeries performed between 2000 and 2011. Clinical data were collected and all specimens underwent tumor genotyping, HER2 immunohistochemistry (IHC, HercepTest®), HER2 fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), along with total HER2 (H2T) and p95HER2 assessment with VeraTag® testing. Regression models were used to compare a cohort of 86 breast tumors selected for equivalent HER2 protein expression.We identified 44 high grade endometrioid and 42 uterine serous carcinomas (USC). IHC identified high HER2 expression (2+ or 3+) in 59% of the tumors. HER2 gene amplification was observed in 16 tumors (12 USC, 4 endometrioid). Both HER2 gene amplification and protein expression correlated with H2T values. High p95HER2 expression above 2.8RF/mm2 was observed in 53% (n=54) with significant correlation with H2T levels. When matched to a cohort of 107 breast tumors based on HercepTest HER2 expression, high grade EnCa presented with higher p95 levels (p<0.001).These data demonstrate that compared to BrCa, high grade EnCa expresses higher levels of p95HER2 possibly providing rationale for the trastuzumab resistance observed in EnCa.
Project description:HER2-targeting antibodies (trastuzumab, pertuzumab) and a HER2-directed antibody-drug conjugate (trastuzumab emtansine: T-DM1) are used for the treatment of HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. However, these treatments eventually become ineffective due to acquired resistance and there is an urgent need for alternative therapies. TAS0728 is a small-molecule, irreversible selective HER2 kinase inhibitor. In the present study, we established new in vivo models of cancer resistance by continuous exposure to a combination of trastuzumab and pertuzumab or to T-DM1 for evaluating the effect of TAS0728 on HER2 antibody-resistant populations. Treatment with trastuzumab and pertuzumab or with T-DM1 initially induced tumor regression in NCI-N87 xenografts. However, tumor regrowth during treatment indicated loss of drug effectiveness. In tumors with acquired resistance to trastuzumab and pertuzumab or to T-DM1, HER2-HER3 phosphorylation was retained. Switching to TAS0728 resulted in a significant anti-tumor effect associated with HER2-HER3 signal inhibition. No alternative receptor tyrosine kinase activation was observed in these resistant tumors. Furthermore, in a patient-derived xenograft model derived from breast cancer refractory to both trastuzumab/pertuzumab and T-DM1, TAS0728 exerted a potent anti-tumor effect. These results suggest that tumors with acquired resistance to trastuzumab and pertuzumab and to T-DM1 are still dependent on oncogenic HER2-HER3 signaling and are vulnerable to HER2 signal inhibition by TAS0728. These results provide a rationale for TAS0728 therapy for breast cancers that are refractory to established anti-HER2 therapies.
Project description:Although Trastuzumab, an anti-HER2 antibody, benefits certain patients with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer, de novo or acquired trastuzumab resistance remains a haunting issue. EGFRvIII, co-expressing with HER2 in some breast tumors, indicates a poor clinical prognosis. However, the role of EGFRvIII in the function of trastuzumab is not clear. Here, we demonstrated that EGFRvIII overexpression contributed to de novo trastuzumab resistance and the feedback activation of STAT3 caused by trastuzumab also resulted in acquired resistance in EGFRvIII(+)HER2(+) breast cancers. CH12, a highly effective anti-EGFRvIII monoclonal antibody that preferentially binds to EGFRvIII, significantly suppressed the growth of EGFRvIII+HER2(+) breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, CH12 in combination with trastuzumab had a synergistic inhibitory effect on EGFRvIII(+)HER2(+) breast cancers in vitro and in vivo via attenuating the phosphorylation of EGFR and HER2 and their downstream signal pathways more effectively and reversing STAT3 feedback activation. Moreover, the combination therapy suppressed angiogenesis and induced cell apoptosis significantly. Together, these results suggested a synergistic efficacy of the combination of trastuzumab with CH12 against EGFRvIII(+)HER2(+) breast cancers, which might be a potential clinical application in the future.
Project description:Trastuzumab is integral to HER2+ cancer treatment, but its therapeutic index is narrowed by the development of resistance. Phosphorylation of the translation initiation factor eIF2α (eIF2α-P) is the nodal point of the integrated stress response, which promotes survival or death in a context-dependent manner. Here, we show an anti-tumor function of the protein kinase PKR and its substrate eIF2α in a mouse HER2+ breast cancer model. The anti-tumor function depends on the transcription factor ATF4, which upregulates the CDK inhibitor P21CIP1 and activates JNK1/2. The PKR/eIF2α-P arm is induced by Trastuzumab in sensitive but not resistant HER2+ breast tumors. Also, eIF2α-P stimulation by the phosphatase inhibitor SAL003 substantially increases Trastuzumab potency in resistant HER2+ breast and gastric tumors. Increased eIF2α-P prognosticates a better response of HER2+ metastatic breast cancer patients to Trastuzumab therapy. Hence, the PKR/eIF2α-P arm antagonizes HER2 tumorigenesis whereas its pharmacological stimulation improves the efficacy of Trastuzumab therapy.
Project description:Trastuzumab has been shown to improve the survival outcomes of HER2 positive breast cancer patients. However, a significant proportion of HER2-positive patients are either inherently resistant or develop resistance to trastuzumab. We assessed the effects of neratinib, an irreversible panHER inhibitor, in a panel of 36 breast cancer cell lines. We further assessed its effects with or without trastuzumab in several sensitive and resistant breast cancer cells as well as a BT474 xenograft model. We confirmed that neratinib was significantly more active in HER2-amplified than HER2 non-amplified cell lines. Neratinib decreased the activation of the 4 HER receptors and inhibited downstream pathways. However, HER3 and Akt were reactivated at 24 hours, which was prevented by the combination of trastuzumab and neratinib. Neratinib also decreased pHER2 and pHER3 in acquired trastuzumab resistant cells. Neratinib in combination with trastuzumab had a greater growth inhibitory effect than either drug alone in 4 HER2 positive cell lines. Furthermore, trastuzumab in combination with neratinib was growth inhibitory in SKBR3 and BT474 cells which had acquired resistance to trastuzumab as well as in a BT474 xenograft model. Innately trastuzumab resistant cell lines showed sensitivity to neratinib, but the combination did not enhance response compared to neratinib alone. Levels of HER2 and phospho-HER2 showed a direct correlation with sensitivity to neratinib. Our data indicate that neratinib is an effective anti-HER2 therapy and counteracted both innate and acquired trastuzumab resistance in HER2 positive breast cancer. Our results suggest that combined treatment with trastuzumab and neratinib is likely to be more effective than either treatment alone for both trastuzumab-sensitive breast cancer as well as HER2-positive tumors with acquired resistance to trastuzumab.
Project description:Trastuzumab resistance emerges to be a major issue in anti-human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) therapy for breast cancers. Here, we demonstrated that miR-21 expression was up-regulated and its function was elevated in HER2(+) BT474, SKBR3, and MDA-MB-453 breast cancer cells that are induced to acquire trastuzumab resistance by long-term exposure to the antibody, whereas protein expression of the PTEN gene, a miR-21 target, was reduced. Blocking the action of miR-21 with antisense oligonucleotides re-sensitized the resistant cells to the therapeutic activities of trastuzumab by inducing growth arrest, proliferation inhibition, and G(1)-S cell cycle checking in the presence of the antibody. Ectopic expression of miR-21 in HER2(+) breast cancer cells confers resistance to trastuzumab. Rescuing PTEN expression with a p3XFLAG-PTEN-mut construct with deleted miR-21 targeting sequence at its 3' UTR restored the growth inhibition of trastuzumab in the resistant cells by inducing PTEN activation and AKT inhibition. In vivo, administering miR-21 antisense oligonucleotides restored trastuzumab sensitivity in the resistant breast cancer xenografts by inducing PTEN expression, whereas injection of miR-21 mimics conferred trastuzumab resistant in the sensitive breast tumors via PTEN silence. Up-regulatin of miR-21 in tumor biopsies obtained from patients receiving pre-operative trastuzumab therapy was associated with poor trastuzumab response. Therefore, miR-21 overexpression contributes to trastuzumab resistance in HER2(+) breast cancers and antagonizing miR-21 demonstrates therapeutic potential by sensitizing the malignancy to anti-HER2 treatment.
Project description:The antibody trastuzumab is approved for treatment of patients with HER2 (ERBB2)-overexpressing breast cancer. A significant fraction of these tumors are either intrinsically resistant or acquire resistance rendering the drug ineffective. The development of resistance has been attributed to failure of the antibody to inhibit phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), which is activated by the HER2 network. Herein, we examined the effects of PI3K blockade in trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cell lines. Treatment with the pan-PI3K inhibitor XL147 and trastuzumab reduced proliferation and pAKT levels, triggering apoptosis of trastuzumab-resistant cells. Compared with XL147 alone, the combination exhibited a superior antitumor effect against trastuzumab-resistant tumor xenografts. Furthermore, treatment with XL147 and trastuzumab reduced the cancer stem-cell (CSC) fraction within trastuzumab-resistant cells both in vitro and in vivo. These effects were associated with FoxO-mediated inhibition of transcription of the antiapoptosis gene survivin (BIRC5) and the CSC-associated cytokine interleukin-8. RNA interference-mediated or pharmacologic inhibition of survivin restored sensitivity to trastuzumab in resistant cells. In a cohort of patients with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer treated with trastuzumab, higher pretreatment tumor levels of survivin RNA correlated with poor response to therapy. Together, our results suggest that survivin blockade is required for therapeutic responses to trastuzumab and that by combining trastuzumab and PI3K inhibitors, CSCs can be reduced within HER2(+) tumors, potentially preventing acquired resistance to anti-HER2 therapy.
Project description:HER2+/ER+ breast cancer, a subset of the luminal B subtype, makes up approximately 10% of all breast cancers. The bidirectional crosstalk between HER2 and estrogen receptor (ER) in HER2+/ER+ breast cancer contributes to resistance towards both anti-estrogens and HER2-targeted therapies. TFF3 promotes breast cancer progression and has been implicated in anti-estrogen resistance in breast cancer. Herein, we investigated the cross-regulation between HER2 and estrogen-responsive TFF3, and the role of TFF3 in mediating trastuzumab resistance in HER2+/ER+ breast cancer. TFF3 expression was decreased by HER2 activation, and increased by inhibition of HER2 with trastuzumab in HER2+/ER+ breast cancer cells, partially in an ER?-independent manner. In contrast, the forced expression of TFF3 activated the entire HER family of receptor tyrosine kinases (HER1-4). Hence, HER2 negatively regulates its own signalling through the transcriptional repression of TFF3, while trastuzumab inhibition of HER2 results in increased TFF3 expression to compensate for the loss of HER2 signalling. In HER2+/ER+ breast cancer cells with acquired trastuzumab resistance, TFF3 expression was markedly upregulated and associated with a corresponding decrease in HER signalling. siRNA mediated depletion or small molecule inhibition of TFF3 decreased the survival and growth advantage of the trastuzumab resistant cells without re-sensitization to trastuzumab. Furthermore, TFF3 inhibition abrogated the enhanced cancer stem cell-like behaviour in trastuzumab resistant HER2+/ER+ breast cancer cells. Collectively, TFF3 may function as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target in trastuzumab resistant HER2+/ER+ breast cancer.
Project description:Despite impressive clinical benefit obtained with anti-HER2-targeted therapies, in advances stages, especially in the metastatic setting, HER2-positive tumors remain incurable. Therefore, it is important to develop novel strategies to fight these tumors, especially when they become resistant to available therapies. We show here that the anti-HER3 antibody-drug conjugate EV20/MMAF exerted potent anti-tumoral properties against several models of primary resistance and secondary resistance to common anti-HER2 available therapies, including trastuzumab, lapatinib, neratinib, and trastuzumab-emtansine. HER3 was expressed in these HER2<sup>+</sup> breast cancer cells and knockdown experiments demonstrated that HER3 expression was required for the action of EV20/MMAF. In mice injected with trastuzumab-resistant HER2<sup>+</sup> cells, a single dose of EV20/MMAF caused complete and long-lasting tumor regression. Mechanistically, EV20/MMAF bound to cell surface HER3 and became internalized to the lysosomes. Treatment with EV20/MMAF caused cell cycle arrest in mitosis and promoted cell death through mitotic catastrophe. These findings encourage the clinical testing of EV20/MMAF for several indications in the HER2<sup>+</sup> cancer clinic, including situations in which HER2<sup>+</sup> tumors become refractory to approved anti-HER2 therapies.