Cellular signalling

Pharmacological inhibition of Rac1-PAK1 axis restores tamoxifen sensitivity in human resistant breast cancer cells.

PMID 27939839


Tamoxifen is a standard endocrine therapy for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients. Despite its success, development of resistance mechanisms is still a serious clinical problem. Deregulation of survival signaling pathways play a key role in tamoxifen resistance, being upregulation of Rac1-PAK1 signaling pathway one of the most important. Here, we report the development of the breast cancer cell model MCF7::C1199 having Rac1 enhanced activity with the aim of evaluating the role of Rac1 in acquired endocrine resistance. These cells not only showed distinctive features of Rac1-regulated process as increased migration and proliferation rates, but also showed that upregulation of Rac1 activity triggered a hormonal-independent and tamoxifen resistant phenotype. We also demonstrated that PAK1 activity increases in response to Tamoxifen, increasing phosphorylation levels of estrogen receptor at Ser305, a key phosphorylation site involved in tamoxifen resistance. Finally, we evaluated the effect of 1A-116, a specific Rac1 inhibitor developed by our group, in tamoxifen-resistant cells. 1A-116 effectively restored tamoxifen anti-proliferative effects, switched off PAK1 activity and decreased estrogen receptor phospho-Ser305 levels. Since combination schemes of novel targeted agents with endocrine therapy could be potential new strategies to restore tamoxifen sensibility, these results show that inhibition of Rac1-PAK1 signaling pathway may provides benefits to revert resistance mechanisms in endocrine therapies.