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PloS one

Geminin overexpression promotes imatinib sensitive breast cancer: a novel treatment approach for aggressive breast cancers, including a subset of triple negative.


PMID 24789045

Abstract

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype that affects 10-25% mostly African American women. TNBC has the poorest prognosis of all subtypes with rapid progression leading to mortality in younger patients. So far, there is no targeted treatment for TNBC. To that end, here we show that c-Abl is one of several tyrosine kinases that phosphorylate and activate geminin's ability to promote TNBC. Analysis of >800 breast tumor samples showed that geminin is overexpressed in ∼50% of all tumors. Although c-Abl is overexpressed in ∼90% of all tumors, it is only nuclear in geminin overexpressing tumors. In geminin-negative tumors, c-Abl is only cytoplasmic. Inhibiting c-Abl expression or activity (using imatinib or nilotinib) prevented geminin Y150 phosphorylation, inactivated the protein, and most importantly converted overexpressed geminin from an oncogene to an apoptosis inducer. In pre-clinical orthotopic breast tumor models, geminin-overexpressing cells developed aneuploid and invasive tumors, which were suppressed when c-Abl expression was blocked. Moreover, established geminin overexpressing orthotopic tumors regressed when treated with imatinib or nilotinib. Our studies support imatinib/nilotonib as a novel treatment option for patients with aggressive breast cancer (including a subset of TNBCs)-overexpressing geminin and nuclear c-Abl.

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