Transcriptome analysis of HER2 reveals a molecular connection to fatty acid synthesis

Chandan Kumar-Sinha, Kathleen Woods Ignatoski, Marc E Lippman, Stephen P Ethier, Arul M Chinnaiyan
Cancer Research 2003 January 1, 63 (1): 132-9
HER2 (erbB2/neu) is a member of the erbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases and is involved in regulating the growth of several types of human carcinomas. HER2 represents a successful therapeutic target of the biotechnology era as exemplified by the drug Herceptin (trastuzumab), which has clinical activity in a subset of breast cancer patients. Using DNA microarrays, we identified a cohort of genes that are differentially regulated by HER2 in breast epithelial cells. One of the HER2-regulated genes discovered was fatty acid synthase (FAS), which has been shown to be overexpressed in breast cancer as well as other cancers. FAS is implicated in tumorigenesis through its role in cell proliferation and membrane lipid incorporation of neoplastic cells. Here, we demonstrate that HER2-mediated induction of FAS is inhibitable by Herceptin and tyrosine kinase inhibitors of HER2. Through a phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase-dependent pathway, HER2 stimulates the FAS promoter and ultimately mediates increased fatty acid synthesis. Interestingly, pharmacological inhibition of FAS preferentially induced apoptosis of HER2-overexpressing breast epithelial cells relative to matched vector control cells. These studies characterize a molecular connection between two genes individually implicated in tumorigenesis but never linked together.

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