MUC1-C inhibitor is synergistic with chemotherapeutic and targeted drugs
Oncogene , 2014; 33(26):3422-3431; Raina D, Uchida Y, Kharbanda A, Rajabi H, Panchamoorthy G, Jin C, Kharbanda S, Scaltriti M, Baselga J, and Kufe D.
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Patients with HER2-positive breast cancer often exhibit intrinsic or acquired resistance to trastuzumab treatment. The transmembrane mucin 1 (MUC1) oncoprotein is aberrantly overexpressed in breast cancer cells and associates with HER2. The present studies demonstrate that silencing MUC1 C-terminal subunit (MUC1-C) in HER2-overexpressing SKBR3 and BT474 breast cancer cells results in the downregulation of constitutive HER2 activation. Moreover, treatment with the MUC1-C inhibitor, GO-203, was associated with disruption of MUC1-C/HER2 complexes and decreases in tyrosine-phosphorylated HER2 (p-HER2) levels. In studies of trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3R and BT474R cells, we found that the association between MUC1-C and HER2 is markedly increased (∼20-fold) as compared with that in sensitive cells. In addition, silencing MUC1-C in the trastuzumab-resistant cells or treatment with GO-203 decreased p-HER2 and AKT activation. Moreover, targeting MUC1-C was associated with the downregulation of phospho-p27 and cyclin E, which confer trastuzumab resistance. Consistent with these results, targeting MUC1-C inhibited the growth and clonogenic survival of both trastuzumab-resistant cells. Our results further demonstrate that silencing MUC1-C reverses resistance to trastuzumab and that the combination of GO-203 and trastuzumab is highly synergistic. These findings indicate that MUC1-C contributes to constitutive activation of the HER2 pathway and that targeting MUC1-C represents a potential approach to abrogate trastuzumab resistance.
Targeting MUC1-C is synergistic with bortezomib in downregulating TIGAR and inducing ROS-mediated myeloma cell death
Blood , 2014; 123(19):2997-3006; Yin L, Kufe T, Avigan D, and Kufe D.
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The proteosome inhibitor bortezomib (BTZ) induces endoplasmic reticulum and oxidative stress in multiple myeloma (MM) cells. The mucin 1 C-terminal subunit (MUC1-C) oncoprotein is aberrantly expressed in most MM cells, and targeting MUC1-C with GO-203, a cell-penetrating peptide inhibitor of MUC1-C homodimerization, is effective in inducing reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated MM cell death. The present results demonstrate that GO-203 and BTZ synergistically downregulate expression of the p53-inducible regulator of glycolysis and apoptosis (TIGAR), which promotes shunting of glucose-6-phosphate into the pentose phosphate pathway to generate reduced glutathione (GSH). In turn, GO-203 blocks BTZ-induced increases in GSH and results in synergistic increases in ROS and MM cell death. The results also demonstrate that GO-203 is effective against BTZ-resistant MM cells. We show that BTZ resistance is associated with BTZ-induced increases in TIGAR and GSH levels, and that GO-203 resensitizes BTZ-resistant cells to BTZ treatment by synergistically downregulating TIGAR and GSH. The GO-203/BTZ combination is thus highly effective in killing BTZ-resistant MM cells. These findings support a model in which targeting MUC1-C is synergistic with BTZ in suppressing TIGAR-mediated regulation of ROS levels and provide an experimental rationale for combining GO-203 with BTZ in certain settings of BTZ resistance.
Oncogenic MUC1-C promotes tamoxifen resistance in human breast cancer
Clinical Cancer Research , 2013; 11(7):714-723; Kharbanda A, Rajabi H, Jin C, Raina D, and Kufe D.
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Tamoxifen resistance of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer cells has been linked in part to activation of receptor tyrosine kinases, such as HER2, and the PI3K-AKT pathway. Mucin 1 (MUC1) is aberrantly overexpressed in about 90% of human breast cancers, and the oncogenic MUC1-C subunit is associated with ERα. The present studies using HER2 overexpressing BT-474 breast cancer cells, which are constitutively resistant to tamoxifen, demonstrate that silencing MUC1-C is associated with (i) downregulation of p-HER2 and (ii) sensitivity to tamoxifen-induced growth inhibition and loss of clonogenic survival. In contrast, overexpression of MUC1-C in tamoxifen-sensitive MCF-7 breast cancer cells resulted in upregulation of p-AKT and tamoxifen resistance. We show that MUC1-C forms complexes with ERα on the estrogen-responsive promoter of Rab31 and that MUC1-C blocks tamoxifen-induced decreases in ERα occupancy. MUC1-C also attenuated tamoxifen-induced decreases in (i) recruitment of the coactivator CREB binding protein, (ii) Rab31 promoter activation, and (iii) Rab31 mRNA and protein levels. The importance of MUC1-C is further supported by the demonstration that targeting MUC1-C with the cell-penetrating peptide inhibitor, GO-203, sensitized tamoxifen-resistant cells to tamoxifen treatment. Moreover, we show that targeting MUC1-C in combination with tamoxifen is highly synergistic in the treatment of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells. Combined, these findings indicate that MUC1-C contributes to tamoxifen resistance.
Inhibition of the MUC1-C oncoprotein is synergistic with cytotoxic agents in the treatment of breast cancer cells
Cancer Biology & Therapy , 2013; 14(2):127-134; Uchida Y, Raina D, Kharbanda S, and Kufe D.
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Mucin 1 (MUC1) is a heterodimeric glycoprotein that is aberrantly overexpressed in most human breast cancers. The oncogenic MUC1-C subunit promotes survival and blocks the apoptotic response to genotoxic anticancer agents. In the present studies, human MCF-7 and ZR-75-1 breast cancer cells were treated with the MUC1-C inhibitor, GO-203, a cell-penetrating peptide that blocks MUC1-C homodimerization and thereby its oncogenic function. Treatment with GO-203 was found to promote the apoptotic response of MCF-7 and ZR-75-1 cells to the therapeutic drugs taxol and doxorubicin (DOX). This effect was (1) attenuated by a pan-caspase inhibitor, and (2) mediated, at least in part, by activation of the effector caspase-7 and cleavage of the downstream substrate PARP. Further analysis of the interaction between GO-203 and taxol using isobolograms, which evaluate the nature of the interaction of two drugs, demonstrated that the combination is highly synergistic. These results were supported by combination index (CI) analysis with values of less than 1. GO-203 was also highly synergistic with DOX in studies of both MCF-7 and ZR-75-1 breast cancer cells. These findings indicate that blocking MUC1-C function could be effective in combination with taxol and DOX for the treatment of breast cancer.