Truncated-ERBB2 isoforms (t-ERBB2s), resulting from receptor proteolysis or alternative translation of the ERBB2 mRNA, exist in a subset of human breast tumors. t-ERBB2s lack the receptor extracellular domain targeted by therapeutic anti-ERBB2 antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates, including trastuzumab, trastuzumab-DM1 and pertuzumab. In clinical studies, expression of t-ERBB2 in breast tumors correlates with metastasis as well as trastuzumab resistance. By using a novel immuno-microarray method, we detect a significant t-ERBB2 fraction in 18 of 31 (58%) of immunohistochemistry (IHC)3+ ERBB2+ human tumor specimens, and further show that t-ERBB2 isoforms are phosphorylated in a subset of IHC3+ samples (10 of 31, 32%). We investigated t-ERBB2 biological activity via engineered expression of full-length and truncated ERBB2 isoforms in human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs), including HMEC and MCF10A cells. Expression of p110 t-ERBB2, but not p95m (m=membrane, also 648CTF) or intracellular ERBB2s, significantly enhanced cell migration and invasion in multiple cell types. In addition, only expression of the p110 isoform led to human breast epithelial cell (HMLE) xenograft formation in vivo. Expression of t-ERBB2s did not result in hyperactivation of the phosphoinositide kinase-3/AKT or mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways in these cells; rather, phosphoproteomic array profiling revealed attenuation of phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) in p110-t-ERBB2-expressing cells compared to controls. Short hairpin-mediated silencing of STAT5 phenocopied p110-t-ERBB2-driven cell migration and invasion, while expression of constitutively active STAT5 reversed these effects. Thus, we provide novel evidence that (1) expression of p110 t-ERBB2 is sufficient for full transformation of HMEC, yielding in vivo xenograft formation, and (2) truncated p110 t-ERBB2 expression is associated with decreased phosphorylation of STAT5.
View details for DOI 10.1038/onc.2012.256
View details for PubMedID 22751112