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Involvement of the HER2 pathway in repair of DNA damage produced by chemotherapeutic agents

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Michael Tilby


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HER2 (ErbB2) is overexpressed in up to 30% of human breast cancers. Preclinical and clinical studies suggest synergy between some chemotherapeutic agents and the humanized anti-HER2 antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin). This study investigated the effects of etoposide and cisplatin on the repair of DNA damage in breast cancer cell lines. We examined the potential significance of HER2 nuclear expression in DNA repair. MCF-7, SK-BR-3, and MDA-MB-453 cells were treated with cisplatin and etoposide. Repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICL) and strand breaks, following incubation with cisplatin and etoposide, respectively, were quantitated by the single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay. Intrastrand crosslinks produced by cisplatin were assessed by ELISA. The effects of trastuzumab were measured in combination with these drugs. Similar experiments were done using HER2-negative MDA-MB-468 cells transfected with HER2 and a construct lacking the nuclear localization sequence. Incubation of breast cancer cell lines with trastuzumab delayed the repair of ICL produced by cisplatin. There were no effects on the repair of intrastrand crosslinks produced by cisplatin, or repair of DNA strand breaks following etoposide treatment. Transfection of HER2 into MDA-MB-468 cells inhibited the repair of cisplatin-induced ICL, whereas transfection of a HER2 construct lacking the nuclear localization sequence did not affect DNA repair. These results indicate that HER2 expression modulates the repair of specific DNA lesions produced by chemotherapy. The effect on ICL repair requires nuclear expression of HER2. Understanding the mechanisms of interaction between DNA-interacting agents and HER2 inhibitors will inform the design of clinical trials and optimize the therapeutic effects of these combinations. [Mol Cancer Ther 2009;8(11):3015-23]

Publication metadata

Author(s): Boone JJM, Bhosle J, Tilby MJ, Hartley JA, Hochhauser D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

Year: 2009

Volume: 8

Issue: 11

Pages: 3015-3023

ISSN (print): 1535-7163

ISSN (electronic): 1538-8514

Publisher: American Association for Cancer Research


DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0219


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Funder referenceFunder name
Breast Cancer Research Trust
UCL Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre
UCLH/UCL National Institute for Health Research Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre
C2259/A9994Cancer Research UK