Activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT signaling confers resistance to trastuzumab but not lapatinib

Neil A O'Brien, Brigid C Browne, Lucy Chow, Yuhua Wang, Charles Ginther, Jane Arboleda, Michael J Duffy, John Crown, Norma O'Donovan, Dennis J Slamon
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2010, 9 (6): 1489-502
Trastuzumab and lapatinib provide clinical benefit to women with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER)-positive breast cancer. However, not all patients whose tumors contain the HER2 alteration respond. Consequently, there is an urgent need to identify new predictive factors for these agents. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway activation in conferring resistance to trastuzumab and lapatinib. To address this question, we evaluated response to trastuzumab and lapatinib in a panel of 18 HER2-amplified cell lines, using both two- and three-dimensional culture. The SUM-225, HCC-1419, HCC-1954, UACC-893, HCC-1569, UACC-732, JIMT-1, and MDA-453 cell lines were found to be innately resistant to trastuzumab, whereas the MDA-361, MDA-453, HCC-1569, UACC-732, JIMT-1, HCC-202, and UACC-893 cells are innately lapatinib resistant. Lapatinib was active in de novo (SUM-225, HCC-1419, and HCC-1954) and in a BT-474 cell line with acquired resistance to trastuzumab. In these cells, trastuzumab had little effect on AKT phosphorylation, whereas lapatinib retained activity through the dephosphorylation of AKT. Increased phosphorylation of HER2, epidermal growth factor receptor, HER3, and insulin-like growth factor IR correlated with response to lapatinib but not trastuzumab. Loss of PTEN or the presence of activating mutations in PI3K marked resistance to trastuzumab, but lapatinib response was independent of these factors. Thus, increased activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway correlates with resistance to trastuzumab, which can be overcome by lapatinib. In conclusion, pharmacologic targeting of the PI3K/AKT pathway may provide benefit to HER2-positive breast cancer patients who are resistant to trastuzumab therapy.

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