In the present studies, we demonstrate that heregulin is a potent and rapid activator of the serine/threonine kinase called Akt in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line but not in 3 other breast cancer cell lines (T47D, HBL-100, and MDA-231). The extent of activation of Akt in the 4 cell lines correlated with the ability of heregulin to activate phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and inhibition of the kinase blocked Akt activation. A monoclonal antibody to HER2 inhibited the ability of heregulin to activate Akt in the MCF-7 cells. BT474, a breast cancer cell line which overexpresses HER2, had high basal Akt enzymatic activity. This high basal activity was lowered when cells were pre-incubated with an anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody which is used to treat breast cancer patients. Our results indicate that heregulin is a potent activator of Akt and that overexpression of HER2 in breast cancers could also lead to activation of Akt.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.