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Title: The role of HER4 in relation to trastuzumab resistance and prognosis in HER2 positive breast cancer
Author: Mohd Nafi, Siti Norasikin
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 9192
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Background Trastuzumab resistance imposes a major limitation to the successful treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer. The expression of HER4 and its prognostic value is controversial in breast cancer. Furthermore, its role in trastuzumab treatment and resistance in HER2 positive breast cancer has not been reported. Methods The effects of trastuzumab on HER4 cleavage and its localisation were studied in both parental and trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3 and BT474 cells using western blot, RT-PCR, nuclear fractionation and confocal microscopy. Tissue microarrays consisting of a cohort of HER2 positive breast cancer patients were stained for HER4 by immunohistochemistry and the results were correlated with patients’ outcome. This study also assessed HER4 expression in the tumor samples from a window study of trastuzumab alone or in combination with neoadjuvant chemotherapy in HER2 positive breast cancer patients. Results Trastuzumab treatment upregulated HER4 mRNA, and increased expression of both 80 and 180 kDa HER4 protein isoforms, and induced nuclear translocation of 80kDa HER4 protein isoforms, which the results similar to heregulin stimulation. This was also seen in trastuzumab resistant cells although HER480kDa and nuclear HER4 decreased upon overnight withdrawal of trastuzumab in resistant cell lines. In addition, knockdown of HER4 protein expression by specific siRNAs increased trastuzumab sensitivity and reversed trastuzumab resistance in SKBR3 and BT474 cells, confirming the importance of HER4 in trastuzumab response. This study also showed that trastuzumab-induced HER4 nuclear translocation is due to HER4 activation and cleavage since γ-secretase inhibitor (GSi) and neratinib prevented the process when combined with trastuzumab treatment, correlating with an increased apoptosis and decreased cell viability. There was also increased nuclear HER4 expression in tumors from both BT474 xenografts and from patients with breast cancer treated with trastuzumab monotherapy. Furthermore, nuclear HER4 predicted poor clinical response to trastuzumab monotherapy in patients undergoing a window study and was a poor prognostic factor in HER2 positive breast cancer. Conclusions This study suggests HER4 activation, cleavage and nuclear translocation play a key role in trastuzumab resistance in HER2 positive breast cancer. Nuclear HER4 could be a novel predictive and prognostic biomarker in HER2 positive breast cancer patients.
Supervisor: Kong, Anthony; Ioannis, Roxanis Sponsor: Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medical Sciences ; Oncology ; Multidrug resistance ; Tumour pathology ; nuclear HER4 ; trastuzumab resistance ; HER2 positive ; breast cancer