ErbB activation signatures as potential biomarkers for anti-ErbB3 treatment in HNSCC.
ABSTRACT: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) accounts for 3-5% of all tumor types and remains an unmet medical need with only two targeted therapies approved to date. ErbB3 (HER3), the kinase-impaired member of the EGFR/ErbB family, has been implicated as a disease driver in a number of solid tumors, including a subset of HNSCC. Here we show that the molecular components required for ErbB3 activation, including its ligand neuregulin-1 (NRG1), are highly prevalent in HNSCC and that HER2, but not EGFR, is the major activating ErbB3 kinase partner. We demonstrate that cetuximab treatment primarily inhibits the ERK signaling pathway and KTN3379, an anti-ErbB3 monoclonal antibody, inhibits the AKT signaling pathway, and that dual ErbB receptor inhibition results in enhanced anti-tumor activity in HNSCC models. Surprisingly, we found that while NRG1 is required for ErbB3 activation, it was not sufficient to fully predict for KTN3379 activity. An evaluation of HNSCC patient samples demonstrated that NRG1 expression was significantly associated with expression of the EGFR ligands amphiregulin (AREG) and transforming growth factor ? (TGF?). Furthermore, NRG1-positive HNSCC cell lines that secreted high levels of AREG and TGF? or contained high levels of EGFR homodimers (H11D) demonstrated a better response to KTN3379. Although ErbB3 and EGFR activation are uncoupled at the receptor level, their respective signaling pathways are linked through co-expression of their respective ligands. We propose that NRG1 expression and EGFR activation signatures may enrich for improved efficacy of anti-ErbB3 therapeutic mAb approaches when combined with EGFR-targeting therapies in HNSCC.
Project description:Recently, the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR), a member of the ErbB receptor family, and its down-stream signalling have been identified as co-factors for HCV entry and replication. Since EGFR also functions as a heterodimer with other ErbB receptor family members, the subject of the present study was to investigate a possible viral interference with these cellular components. By using genotype 1b replicon cells as well as an infection-based system we found that while transcript and protein levels of EGFR and ErbB2 were up-regulated or unaffected, respectively, HCV induced a substantial reduction of ErbB3 and ErbB4 expression. Down-regulation of ErbB3 expression by HCV involves specificity protein (Sp)1-mediated induction of Neuregulin (NRG)1 expression as well as activation of Akt. Consistently, at transcript level disruption of ErbB3 expression by HCV can be prevented by knockdown of NRG1 or Sp1 expression, whereas reconstitution of ErbB3 protein levels requires inhibition of HCV-induced NRG1 expression and of Akt activity. Interestingly, the NRG1-mediated suppression of ErbB3 expression by HCV results in an enhanced expression of EGFR and ErbB2 on the cell surface, which can be mimicked by siRNA-mediated knockdown of ErbB3 expression. These data delineate a novel mechanism enabling HCV to sway the composition of the ErbB family members on the surface of its host cell by an NRG1-driven circuit and unravels a yet unknown cross-regulation between ErbB3 and the two other family members ErbB2 and EGFR. The shift of the receptor surface expression of the ErbB family towards enhanced expression of ErbB2 and EGFR triggered by HCV was found to promote viral RNA replication and infectivity. This suggests that HCV rearranges expression of ErbB family members to adapt the cellular environment to its requirements.
Project description:ErbB3 has been widely implicated in treatment resistance, but its role as a primary treatment target is less clear. Canonically ErbB3 requires EGFR or ErbB2 for activation, whereas these two established treatment targets are thought to signal independently of ErbB3. In this study, we show that ErbB3 is essential for tumor growth of treatment-naive HNSCC patient-derived xenografts. This ErbB3 dependency occurs via ErbB3-mediated control of EGFR activation and HIF1? stabilization, which require ErbB3 and its ligand neuregulin-1. Here, we show that ErbB3 antibody treatment selects for a population of ErbB3-persister cells that express high levels of the transmembrane protein Trop2 that we previously identified as an inhibitor of ErbB3. Co-treatment with anti-ErbB3 and anti-Trop2 antibodies is synergistic and produces a greater anti-tumor response than either antibody alone. Collectively, these data both compel a revision of ErbB-family signaling and delineate a strategy for its effective inhibition in HNSCC.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Therapies targeting ERBB2 have shown success in the clinic. However, response is not determined solely by expression of ERBB2. Levels of ERBB3, its preferred heterodimerisation partner and ERBB ligands may also have a role.<h4>Methods</h4>We measured NRG1 expression by real-time quantitative RT-PCR and ERBB receptors by western blotting and immunohistochemistry in bladder tumours and cell lines.<h4>Results</h4>NRG1α and NRG1β showed significant coordinate expression. NRG1β was upregulated in 78% of cell lines. In tumours, there was a greater range of expression with a trend towards increased NRG1α with higher stage and grade. Increased expression of ERBB proteins was detected in 15% (EGFR), 20% (ERBB2), 41% (ERBB3) and 0% (ERBB4) of cell lines. High EGFR expression was detected in 28% of tumours, associated with grade and stage (P=0.05; P=0.04). Moderate or high expression of ERBB2 was detected in 22% and was associated with stage (P=0.025). Cytoplasmic ERBB3 was associated with high tumour grade (P=0.01) and with ERBB2 positivity. In cell lines, NRG1β expression was significantly inversely related to ERBB3, but this was not confirmed in tumours.<h4>Conclusion</h4>There is a wide spectrum of NRG1 and ERBB receptor expression in bladder cancer. In advanced tumours, EGFR, ERBB2 and ERBB3 upregulation is common and there is a relationship between expression of ERBB2 and ERBB3 but not the NRG1 ligand.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like factors [amphiregulin (AREG), betacellulin, and epiregulin] are induced by LH and activate the EGF receptor (ERBB1)/ERK1/2 pathway in granulosa cells and cumulus cells of preovulatory follicles to impact ovulation. However, the expression and roles of other ERBB family members and their ligands have not been explored in detail. Herein, we document that two transcripts of the neuregulin (Nrg1) gene are expressed in granulosa cells, and that the type III Nrg1 is induced during ovulation in an ERK1/2 and C/EBP?-dependent manner. Western blotting shows that intact (75 kDa) and secreted (45 kDa) forms of neuregulin 1 (NRG1) are present in the ovary. NRG1 likely binds to ERBB3/ERBB2 complexes that are expressed in granulosa cells and cumulus cells. In cultured granulosa cells, NRG1 selectively stimulates the phosphorylation of AKT/PKB compared to ERK1/2. However, when granulosa cells were cultured with NRG1 and AREG, the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was markedly enhanced as compared with that by AREG alone. Cotreatment with NRG1 and AREG also increased progesterone production. When cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were cultured with both NRG1 and AREG, the matured oocytes exhibited significantly higher developmental competence as compared with that of oocytes cultured with AREG alone. Collectively, these results document that the expression of type III NRG1 is induced in granulosa cells during ovulation and that NRG1 enhances AREG-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation in both granulosa cells and cumulus cells. The NRG1 pathway has two roles: one is to enhance AREG-induced progesterone production in granulosa cells, and the other is to regulate oocyte maturation by a cumulus cell-dependent mechanism.
Project description:Integrin-growth factor receptor cross-talk plays a role in growth factor signaling, but the specifics are unclear. In a current model, integrins and growth factor receptors independently bind to their ligands (extracellular matrix and growth factors, respectively). We discovered that neuregulin-1 (NRG1), either as an isolated EGF-like domain or as a native multi-domain form, binds to integrins ?v?3 (with a K(D) of 1.36 × 10(-7) m) and ?6?4. Docking simulation predicted that three Lys residues at positions 180, 184, and 186 of the EGF-like domain are involved in integrin binding. Mutating these residues to Glu individually or in combination markedly suppressed integrin binding and ErbB3 phosphorylation. Mutating all three Lys residues to Glu (the 3KE mutation) did not affect the ability of NRG1 to bind to ErbB3 but markedly reduced the ability of NRG1 to induce ErbB3 phosphorylation and AKT and Erk1/2 activation in MCF-7 and T47D human breast cancer cells. This suggests that direct integrin binding to NRG1 is critical for NRG1/ErbB signaling. Notably, stimulation of cells with WT NRG1 induced co-precipitation of ErbB3 with ?6?4 and with ?v?3 to a much lower extent. This suggests that WT NRG1 induces integrin-NRG1-ErbB3 ternary complex formation. In contrast, the 3KE mutant was much less effective in inducing ternary complex formation than WT NRG1, suggesting that this process depends on the ability of NRG1 to bind to integrins. These results suggest that direct NRG1-integrin interaction mediates integrin-ErbB cross-talk and that ?6?4 plays a major role in NRG-ErbB signaling in these cancer cells.
Project description:Mechanisms underlying ovarian cancer initiation and progression are unclear. Herein, we report that the Yes-associated protein (YAP), a major effector of the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway, interacts with ERBB signaling pathways to regulate the initiation and progression of ovarian cancer. Immunohistochemistry studies indicate that YAP expression is associated with poor clinical outcomes in patients. Overexpression or constitutive activation of YAP leads to transformation and tumorigenesis in human ovarian surface epithelial cells, and promotes growth of cancer cells in vivo and in vitro. YAP induces the expression of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors (EGFR, ERBB3) and production of EGF-like ligands (HBEGF, NRG1 and NRG2). HBEGF or NRG1, in turn, activates YAP and stimulates cancer cell growth. Knockdown of ERBB3 or HBEGF eliminates YAP effects on cell growth and transformation, whereas knockdown of YAP abrogates NRG1- and HBEGF-stimulated cell proliferation. Collectively, our study demonstrates the existence of HBEGF & NRGs/ERBBs/YAP/HBEGF & NRGs autocrine loop that controls ovarian cell tumorigenesis and cancer progression.
Project description:The inhibitory epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibody, cetuximab, is an approved therapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Despite tumor response observed in some HNSCC patients, cetuximab alone or combined with radio- or chemotherapy fails to yield long-term control or cures. We hypothesize that a flexible receptor tyrosine kinase coactivation signaling network supports HNSCC survival in the setting of EGFR blockade, and that drugs disrupting this network will provide superior tumor control when combined with EGFR inhibitors. In this work, we submitted EGFR-dependent HNSCC cell lines to RNA interference-based functional genomics screens to identify, in an unbiased fashion, essential protein kinases for growth and survival as well as synthetic lethal targets for combined inhibition with EGFR antagonists. Mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase (MTOR) and erythroblastosis oncogene B (ERBB)3 were identified as high-ranking essential kinase hits in the HNSCC cell lines. MTOR dependency was confirmed by distinct short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) and high sensitivity of the cell lines to AZD8055, whereas ERBB3 dependency was validated by shRNA-mediated silencing. Furthermore, a synthetic lethal kinome shRNA screen with a pan-ERBB inhibitor, AZD8931, identified multiple components of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, consistent with ERK reactivation and/or incomplete ERK pathway inhibition in response to EGFR inhibitor monotherapy. As validation, distinct mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitors yielded synergistic growth inhibition when combined with the EGFR inhibitors, gefitinib and AZD8931. The findings identify ERBB3 and MTOR as important pharmacological vulnerabilities in HNSCC and support combining MEK and EGFR inhibitors to enhance clinical efficacy in HNSCC. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Many cancers are driven by nonmutated receptor tyrosine kinase coactivation networks that defy full inhibition with single targeted drugs. This study identifies erythroblastosis oncogene B (ERBB)3 as an essential protein kinase in epidermal growth factor receptor-dependent head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) cell lines and a synthetic lethal interaction with the extracellular signal-regulated kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway that provides a rationale for combining pan-ERBB and mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitors as a therapeutic approach in subsets of HNSCC.
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:Clear cell sarcoma of soft tissue (CCSST) represents a highly malignant tumor of the musculoskeletal system that is characterized by the chromosomal translocation t(12;22)(q13;q12) of the Ewing sarcoma gene (EWSR1) and activating transcription factor 1 (ATF1). In a former microarray expression study, we identified ERBB3, a member of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family, as a promising new diagnostic marker in the differential diagnosis of CCSST. Here we show that, besides ErbB3, all CCSST cell lines (n = 8) also express the ErbB2 receptor or the ErbB4 receptor, representing an adequate coreceptor of ErbB3. The phosphorylation status of ErbB3 revealed these receptor pairs to be either constitutively activated in CCSST cells with high neuregulin-1 (NRG1) expression (n = 4) or activatable by exogenic NRG1 in cells showing low amounts of NRG1 mRNA (n = 4). Exogenous NRG1 stimulated the growth of a subset of CCSST cells but did not affect the kinetics of another subset. This difference was not strictly dependent on endogenous NRG1 expression; however, the growth-inhibiting effect of the pan-ErbB tyrosine kinase inhibitor CI-1033 or PD158780 clearly correlated with NRG1 expression indicating an autocrine growth stimulation loop which may constitute an interesting target of new therapeutic strategies in this tumor entity.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have not been effective in unselected head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) populations. We previously reported an exceptional response to a brief course of erlotinib in a patient with advanced HNSCC whose tumor harbored a MAPK1E322K somatic mutation. MAPK1E322Kwas associated with increased p-EGFR, increased EGFR downstream signaling and increased sensitivity to erlotinib. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of MAPK1E322K-mediated EGFR activation in the context of erlotinib sensitivity. We demonstrated increased AREG secretion in HNSCC cell lines harboring endogenous or exogenous MAPK1E322K compared to wild type MAPK1. We found inhibition or knockdown of MAPK1 with siRNA resulted in reduced secretion of AREG and decreased sensitivity to erlotinib in the setting of MAPK1E322K. MAPK1E322K was associated with increased AREG secretion leading to an autocrine feedback loop involving AREG, EGFR and downstream signaling. Knockdown of AREG in HNSCC cells harboring MAPK1E322K abrogated EGFR signaling and decreased sensitivity to erlotinib in vitro and in vivo. These cumulative findings implicate increased AREG secretion and EGFR activation as contributing to increased erlotinib sensitivity in MAPK1E322K HNSCC.