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BACKGROUND - 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.
METHODS - 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).
RESULTS - 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 dams weighed significantly less when compared to litters nursed by ErbB3 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 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 aMECs as well as Akt phosphorylation, STAT5A activity, and expression of milk-encoding genes observed in ErbB3 MECs progressively improved between late pregnancy and lactation day 5. We found a compensatory upregulation of ErbB4 activity in ErbB3 mammary glands. Enforced ErbB4 expression alleviated the consequences of ErbB3 ablation in aMECs, while combined ablation of both ErbB3 and ErbB4 exaggerated the phenotype.
CONCLUSIONS - 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.
Paneth cells (PCs), a secretory population located at the base of the intestinal crypt, support the intestinal stem cells (ISC) with growth factors and participate in innate immunity by releasing antimicrobial peptides, including lysozyme and defensins. PC dysfunction is associated with disorders such as Crohn's disease and necrotizing enterocolitis, but the specific pathways regulating PC development and function are not fully understood. Here we tested the role of the neuregulin receptor ErbB3 in control of PC differentiation and the ISC niche. Intestinal epithelial ErbB3 knockout caused precocious appearance of PCs as early as postnatal day 7, and substantially increased the number of mature PCs in adult mouse ileum. ErbB3 loss had no effect on other secretory lineages, but increased expression of the ISC marker Lgr5. ErbB3-null intestines had elevated levels of the Atoh1 transcription factor, which is required for secretory fate determination, while Atoh1 cells had reduced ErbB3, suggesting reciprocal negative regulation. ErbB3-null intestinal progenitor cells showed reduced activation of the PI3K-Akt and ERK MAPK pathways. Inhibiting these pathways in HT29 cells increased levels of ATOH1 and the PC marker LYZ. Conversely, ErbB3 activation suppressed LYZ and ATOH1 in a PI3K-dependent manner. Expansion of the PC compartment in ErbB3-null intestines was accompanied with elevated ER stress and inflammation markers, raising the possibility that negative regulation of PCs by ErbB3 is necessary to maintain homeostasis. Taken together, our data suggest that ErbB3 restricts PC numbers through PI3K-mediated suppression of Atoh1 levels leading to inhibition of PC differentiation, with important implications for regulation of the ISC niche.
Cervical cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Here we report the extensive molecular characterization of 228 primary cervical cancers, one of the largest comprehensive genomic studies of cervical cancer to date. We observed notable APOBEC mutagenesis patterns and identified SHKBP1, ERBB3, CASP8, HLA-A and TGFBR2 as novel significantly mutated genes in cervical cancer. We also discovered amplifications in immune targets CD274 (also known as PD-L1) and PDCD1LG2 (also known as PD-L2), and the BCAR4 long non-coding RNA, which has been associated with response to lapatinib. Integration of human papilloma virus (HPV) was observed in all HPV18-related samples and 76% of HPV16-related samples, and was associated with structural aberrations and increased target-gene expression. We identified a unique set of endometrial-like cervical cancers, comprised predominantly of HPV-negative tumours with relatively high frequencies of KRAS, ARID1A and PTEN mutations. Integrative clustering of 178 samples identified keratin-low squamous, keratin-high squamous and adenocarcinoma-rich subgroups. These molecular analyses reveal new potential therapeutic targets for cervical cancers.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ERBB3 have been implicated in hepatocellular carcinogenesis (HCC). However, it is not known whether altering the activity of either EGFR or ERBB3 affects HCC development. We now show that Egfr(Dsk5) mutant mice, which have a gain-of-function allele that increases basal EGFR kinase activity, develop spontaneous HCC by 10 mo of age. Their tumors show increased activation of EGFR, ERBB2, and ERBB3 as well as AKT and ERK1,2. Hepatocyte-specific models of EGFR and ERBB3 gene ablation were generated to evaluate how the loss of these genes affected tumor progression. Loss of either receptor tyrosine kinase did not alter liver development or regenerative liver growth following carbon tetrachloride injection. However, using a well-characterized model of HCC in which N-nitrosodiethylamine is injected into 14-day-old mice, we discovered that loss of hepatocellular ERBB3 but not EGFR, which occurred after tumor initiation, retarded liver tumor formation and cell proliferation. We found no evidence that this was due to increased apoptosis or diminished phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase activity in the ERBB3-null cells. However, the relative amount of phospho-STAT3 was diminished in tumors derived from these mice, suggesting that ERBB3 may promote HCC through STAT3 activation.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.
ErbB3, a member of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases, is a potent activator of phosphatidyl inositol-3 kinase (PI3K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, driving tumor cell survival and therapeutic resistance in breast cancers. In luminal breast cancers, ErbB3 upregulation following treatment with the antiestrogen fulvestrant enhances PI3K/mTOR-mediated cell survival. However, the mechanism by which ErbB3 is upregulated in fulvestrant-treated cells is unknown. We found that ErbB3 protein levels and cell surface presentation were increased following fulvestrant treatment, focusing our attention on proteins that regulate ErbB3 at the cell surface, including Nrdp1, NEDD4 and LRIG1. Among these, only LRIG1 correlated positively with ERα, but inversely with ErbB3 in clinical breast cancer data sets. LRIG1, an estrogen-inducible ErbB downregulator, was decreased in a panel of fulvestrant-treated luminal breast cancer cells. Ectopic LRIG1 expression from an estrogen-independent promoter uncoupled LRIG1 from estrogen regulation, thus sustaining LRIG1 and maintaining low ErbB3 levels in fulvestrant-treated cells. An LRIG1 mutant lacking the ErbB3 interaction motif was insufficient to downregulate ErbB3. Importantly, LRIG1 overexpression improved fulvestrant-mediated growth inhibition, whereas cells expressing the LRIG1 mutant were poorly sensitive to fulvestrant, despite effective ERα downregulation. Consistent with these results, LRIG1 expression correlated positively with increased disease-free survival in antiestrogen-treated breast cancer patients. These data suggest that ERα-dependent expression of LRIG1 dampens ErbB3 signaling in luminal breast cancer cells, and by blocking ERα activity with fulvestrant, LRIG1 is decreased thus permitting ErbB3 accumulation, enhanced ErbB3 signaling to cell survival pathways and blunting therapeutic response to fulvestrant.
The role(s) of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in hepatocytes is unknown. We generated a murine hepatocyte specific-EGFR knockout (KO) model to evaluate how loss of hepatocellular EGFR expression affects processes such as EGF clearance, circulating EGF concentrations, and liver regeneration following 70% resection or CCl4-induced centrilobular injury. We were able to disrupt EGFR expression effectively in hepatocytes and showed that the ability of EGF and heregulin (HRG) to phosphorylate EGFR and ERBB3, respectively, required EGFR. Loss of hepatocellular EGFR impaired clearance of exogenous EGF from the portal circulation but paradoxically resulted in reduced circulating levels of endogenous EGF. This was associated with decreased submandibular salivary gland production of EGF. EGFR disruption did not result in increased expression of other ERBB proteins or Met, except in neonatal mice. Liver regeneration following 70% hepatectomy revealed a mild phenotype, with no change in cyclin D1 expression and slight differences in cyclin A expression compared with controls. Peak 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine labeling was shifted from 36 to 48 h. Centrilobular damage and regenerative response induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) were identical in the KO and wild-type mice. In contrast, loss of Met increased CCl4-induced necrosis and delayed regeneration. Although loss of hepatocellular EGFR alone did not have an effect in this model, EGFR-Met double KOs displayed enhanced necrosis and delayed liver regeneration compared with Met KOs alone. This suggests that EGFR and Met may partially compensate for the loss of the other, although other compensatory mechanisms can be envisioned.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.
ERBB receptors were linked to human cancer pathogenesis approximately three decades ago. Biomedical investigators have since developed substantial understanding of the biology underlying the dependence of cancers on aberrant ERBB receptor signaling. An array of cancer-associated genetic alterations in ERBB receptors has also been identified. These findings have led to the discovery and development of mechanism-based therapies targeting ERBB receptors that have improved outcome for many cancer patients. In this Perspective, we discuss current paradigms of targeting ERBB receptors with cancer therapeutics and our understanding of mechanisms of action and resistance to these drugs. As current strategies still have limitations, we also discuss challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as basic scientists and clinical investigators work toward more breakthroughs.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
NRG-1β (neuregulin-1β) serves multiple functions during embryonic heart development by signalling through ErbB family receptor tyrosine kinases (ErbB2, ErbB3 and ErbB4). Previous studies reported that NRG-1β induces cardiomyogenesis of mESCs (mouse embryonic stem cells) at the later stages of differen-tiation through ErbB4 receptor activation. In the present study we systematically examined NRG-1β induction of cardiac myocytes in mESCs and identified a novel time window, the first 48 h, for NRG-1β-based cardiomyogenesis. At this time point ErbB3, but not ErbB4, is expressed. In contrast with the later differentiation of mESCs in which NRG-1β induces cardiomyogenesis via the ErbB4 receptor, we found that knocking down ErbB3 or ErbB2 with siRNA during the early differentiation inhibited NRG-1β-induced cardiomyogenesis in mESCs. Microarray analysis of RNA expression at this early time point indicated that NRG-1β treatment in mESCs resulted in gene expression changes important to differentiation including up-regulation of components of PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase), a known mediator of the NRG-1β/ErbB signalling pathway, as well as activation of CREB (cAMP-response-element-binding protein). Further study demonstrated that the NRG-1β-induced phosphorylation of CREB was required for cardiomyogenesis of mESCs. In summary, we report a previously unrecognized role for NRG-1β/ErbB3/CREB signalling at the pre-mesoderm stage for stem cell cardiac differentiation.
Aberrant regulation of the erythroblastosis oncogene B (ErbB) family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and their ligands is common in human cancers. ErbB3 is required in luminal mammary epithelial cells (MECs) for growth and survival. Since breast cancer phenotypes may reflect biological traits of the MECs from which they originate, we tested the hypothesis that ErbB3 drives luminal breast cancer growth. We found higher ERBB3 expression and more frequent ERBB3 gene copy gains in luminal A/B breast cancers compared with other breast cancer subtypes. In cell culture, ErbB3 increased growth of luminal breast cancer cells. Targeted depletion of ErbB3 with an anti-ErbB3 antibody decreased 3D colony growth, increased apoptosis, and decreased tumor growth in vivo. Treatment of clinical breast tumors with the antiendocrine drug fulvestrant resulted in increased ErbB3 expression and PI3K/mTOR signaling. Depletion of ErbB3 in fulvestrant-treated tumor cells reduced PI3K/mTOR signaling, thus decreasing tumor cell survival and tumor growth. Fulvestrant treatment increased phosphorylation of all ErbB family RTKs; however, phospho-RTK upregulation was not seen in tumors treated with both fulvestrant and anti-ErbB3. These data indicate that upregulation of ErbB3 in luminal breast cancer cells promotes growth, survival, and resistance to fulvestrant, thus suggesting ErbB3 as a target for breast cancer treatment.
Nuclear localized HER family receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) have been observed in primary tumor specimens and cancer cell lines for nearly two decades. Inside the nucleus, HER family members (EGFR, HER2, and HER3) have been shown to function as co-transcriptional activators for various cancer-promoting genes. However, the regions of each receptor that confer transcriptional potential remain poorly defined. The current study aimed to map the putative transactivation domains (TADs) of the HER3 receptor. To accomplish this goal, various intracellular regions of HER3 were fused to the DNA binding domain of the yeast transcription factor Gal4 (Gal4DBD) and tested for their ability to transactivate Gal4 UAS-luciferase. Results from these analyses demonstrated that the C-terminal domain of HER3 (CTD, amino acids distal to the tyrosine kinase domain) contained potent transactivation potential. Next, nine HER3-CTD truncation mutants were constructed to map minimal regions of transactivation potential using the Gal4 UAS-luciferase based system. These analyses identified a bipartite region of 34 (B₁) and 27 (B₂) amino acids in length that conferred the majority of HER3's transactivation potential. Next, we identified full-length nuclear HER3 association and regulation of a 122 bp region of the cyclin D1 promoter. To understand how the B₁ and B₂ regions influenced the transcriptional functions of nuclear HER3, we performed cyclin D1 promoter-luciferase assays in which HER3 deleted of the B₁ and B₂ regions was severely hindered in regulating this promoter. Further, the overexpression of HER3 enhanced cyclin D1 mRNA expression, while HER3 deleted of its identified TADs was hindered at doing so. Thus, the ability for HER3 to function as a transcriptional co-activator may be dependent on specific C-terminal TADs.