Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-related protein inhibits multiple members of the EGFR family in colon and breast cancer cells

Hu Xu, Yingjie Yu, Dorota Marciniak, Arun K Rishi, Fazlul H Sarkar, Omer Kucuk, Adhip P N Majumdar
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2005, 4 (3): 435-42
Inactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family members represents a promising strategy for the development of selective therapies against epithelial cancers. Current anti-EGFR therapies, such as cetuximab (Erbitux), gefitinib (Iressa), or trastuzumab (Herceptin), target EGFR or HER-2 but not both. Because solid tumors express different EGFRs, identification of inhibitor(s), targeting multiple EGFR family members may provide a therapeutic benefit to a broader patient population. We have identified a natural inhibitor of EGFRs called EGFR-related protein (ERRP), a 53 to 55 kDa protein that is present in most, if not all, normal human epithelial cells. The growth of colon (HCT-116, Caco2, and HT-29) and breast (MDA-MB-468 and SKBR-3) cancer cells expressing varying levels of EGFR, HER-2, and/or HER-4 was inhibited by recombinant ERRP in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, ERRP caused no inhibition of growth of normal mouse fibroblast cell lines (NIH-3T3, NIH-3T3/P67), and the growth of nontransformed rat small intestinal IEC-6 cells expressing relatively low levels of EGFRs was inhibited only at high doses of ERRP. Transforming growth factor-alpha or heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-induced activation of EGFR and HER-2 was inhibited by ERRP in colon and breast cancer cells expressing high levels of EGFR or HER-2. In contrast, cetuximab inhibited the growth- and ligand-induced activation of EGFR in cell lines expressing high levels of EGFR, whereas trastuzumab was effective only in HER-2-overexpressing cells. ERRP and trastuzumab, but not cetuximab, attenuated heregulin-alpha-induced activation of colon and breast cancer cells that expressed high levels of HER-2. Furthermore, ERRP, but not cetuximab or trastuzumab, significantly induced apoptosis of colon and breast cancer cells. None of these agents induced apoptosis of either NIH-3T3 mouse fibroblast or normal rat small intestinal IEC cells. Our results suggest that ERRP is an effective pan-erbB inhibitor and, thus, may be a potential therapeutic agent for a wide variety of epithelial cancers expressing different levels and subclasses of EGFRs.

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