Insulin-like growth factor-I receptor signaling in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer: a supporting role to the epidermal growth factor receptor

J M Knowlden, I R Hutcheson, D Barrow, J M W Gee, R I Nicholson
Endocrinology 2005, 146 (11): 4609-18
There is considerable evidence that the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) cross-talk in breast cancer cells. In the present study, we have examined whether EGFR/IGF-IR cross-talk exists in EGFR-positive tamoxifen-resistant variants of MCF-7 (Tam-R) and T47D (T47D-R) breast cancer cell lines. Although Tam-R cells expressed reduced IGF-IR protein levels compared with their wild-type MCF-7 counterparts, phosphorylated IGF-IR protein levels were equivalent in the two cell lines under basal growth conditions, possibly as a consequence of increased IGF-II expression in Tam-R cells. IGF-II activated both IGF-IR and EGFR in Tam-R cells, whereas only activation of IGF-IR was observed in wild-type cells. In contrast, epidermal growth factor rapidly induced EGFR, but not IGF-IR, phosphorylation in Tam-R cells. IGF-II promoted direct association of c-SRC with IGF-IR, phosphorylated c-SRC, and increased EGFR phosphorylation at tyrosine 845, a c-SRC-dependent phosphorylation site. Pretreatment with either AG1024 (IGF-IR-specific inhibitor) or an IGF-II neutralizing antibody inhibited basal IGF-IR, c-SRC, and EGFR phosphorylation, and AG1024 significantly reduced Tam-R basal cell growth. The c-SRC inhibitor SU6656 also inhibited growth, reduced basal and IGF-II-induced c-SRC and EGFR phosphorylation, and blocked EGFR activation by TGFalpha. Similarly, in T47D-R cells, AG1024 and SU6656 inhibited basal and IGF-II-induced phosphorylation of c-SRC and EGFR, and SU6656 reduced TGFalpha-induced EGFR activity. These results suggest the existence of a unidirectional IGF-IR/EGFR cross-talk mechanism whereby IGF-II, acting through the IGF-IR, regulates basal and ligand-activated EGFR signaling and cell proliferation in a c-SRC-dependent manner in Tam-R cells. This cross-talk between IGF-IR and EGFR is not unique to Tam-R cells because this mechanism is also active in a tamoxifen-resistant T47D-R cell line.

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