Regulation of survivin by ErbB2 signaling: therapeutic implications for ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancers.


Journal Article

In breast cancer, overexpression of ErbB2 or aberrant regulation of survivin, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis family, is associated with resistance to chemo/hormone therapy and predicts for a poor clinical outcome. A functional link between the two predictive factors has not been previously shown. Here, using genetic and pharmacologic approaches to block ErbB2 signaling, we show that ErbB2 regulates survivin protein expression in ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells. Selective knockdown of ErbB2 using small interfering RNA markedly reduced survivin protein, resulting in apoptosis of ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cell lines such as BT474. Alternatively, inhibition of ErbB2 signaling using lapatinib (GW572016), a reversible small-molecule inhibitor of ErbB1/ErbB2 tyrosine kinases, at pharmacologically relevant concentrations, leads to marked inhibition of survivin protein with subsequent apoptosis. The effect of lapatinib on survivin seems to be predominantly posttranslational, mediated by ubiquitin-proteosome degradation as lactacystin, a proteosome inhibitor, reverses these effects. Furthermore, lapatinib down-regulated the expression of His-tagged survivin, which was under the transcriptional control of a heterologous promoter, providing additional evidence supporting a posttranslational mechanism of regulation. In contrast, trastuzumab and gefitinib failed to down-regulate survivin in ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells. Importantly, the clinical relevance of these findings was illustrated in patients with ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer whose clinical response to lapatinib was associated with marked inhibition of survivin in their tumors. These findings shed new light on the mechanism by which ErbB2 overexpression protects against apoptotic stimuli in breast cancer and identifies therapeutic interventions to improve clinical outcomes in these aggressive tumors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Xia, W; Bisi, J; Strum, J; Liu, L; Carrick, K; Graham, KM; Treece, AL; Hardwicke, MA; Dush, M; Liao, Q; Westlund, RE; Zhao, S; Bacus, S; Spector, NL

Published Date

  • February 1, 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 66 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 1640 - 1647

PubMed ID

  • 16452223

Pubmed Central ID

  • 16452223

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0008-5472

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-2000


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States