Breast cancer research : BCR

BRCA1-IRIS inactivation overcomes paclitaxel resistance in triple negative breast cancers.

PMID 25583261


Intrinsic or acquired chemoresistance is a major problem in oncology. Although highly responsive to chemotherapies such as paclitaxel, most triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients develop chemoresistance. Here we investigate the role of BRCA1-IRIS as a novel treatment target for TNBCs and their paclitaxel-resistant recurrences. We analyzed the response of BRCA1-IRIS overexpressing normal mammary cells or established TNBC cells silenced from BRCA1-IRIS to paclitaxel in vitro and in vivo. We analyzed BRCA1-IRIS downstream signaling pathways in relation to paclitaxel treatment. We also analyzed a large cohort of breast tumor samples for BRCA1-IRIS, Forkhead box class O3a (FOXO3a) and survivin expression. Finally, we analyzed the effect of BRCA1-IRIS silencing or inactivation on TNBCs formation, maintenance and response to paclitaxel in an orthotopic model. We show that low concentrations of paclitaxel triggers BRCA1-IRIS expression in vitro and in vivo, and that BRCA1-IRIS activates two autocrine signaling loops (epidermal growth factor (EGF)/EGF receptor 1 (EGFR)-EGF receptor 2 (ErbB2) and neurogulin 1 (NRG1)/ErbB2-EGF receptor 3 (ErbB3), which enhances protein kinase B (AKT) and thus survivin expression/activation through promoting FOXO3a degradation. This signaling pathway is intact in TNBCs endogenously overexpressing BRCA1-IRIS. These events trigger the intrinsic and acquired paclitaxel resistance phenotype known for BRCA1-IRIS-overexpressing TNBCs. Inactivating BRCA1-IRIS signaling using a novel inhibitory mimetic peptide inactivates these autocrine loops, AKT and survivin activity/expression, in part by restoring FOXO3a expression, and sensitizes TNBC cells to low paclitaxel concentrations in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we show BRCA1-IRIS and survivin overexpression is correlated with lack of FOXO3a expression in a large cohort of primary tumor samples, and that BRCA1-IRIS overexpression-induced signature is associated with decreased disease free survival in heavily treated estrogen receptor alpha-negative patients. In addition to driving TNBC tumor formation, BRCA1-IRIS overexpression drives their intrinsic and acquired paclitaxel resistance, partly by activating autocrine signaling loops EGF/EGFR-ErbB2 and NRG1/ErbB2-ErbB3. These loops activate AKT, causing FOXO3a degradation and survivin overexpression. Taken together, this underscores the need for BRCA1-IRIS-specific therapy and strongly suggests that BRCA1-IRIS and/or signaling loops activated by it could be rational therapeutic targets for advanced TNBCs.