Loss of androgen receptor associated protein 70 (ARA70) expression in a subset of HER2-positive breast cancers

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2001 Jun;67(3):245-53. doi: 10.1023/a:1017938608460.


Co-transfection studies indicate that HER2 (erbB-2) overexpression results in the phosphorylation and enhanced transcriptional activity of the androgen receptor (AR). This amplification of AR action is further enhanced by the expression of ARA70, a putative co-activator with a predilection for the AR. Because androgens inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells whereas HER2 overexpression stimulates the growth of these cells, it seems possible that loss of expression of AR or ARA70 in some HER2 overexpressing tumors might confer a growth advantage to these cells. We examined ARA70 and AR expression in 20 HER2-positive (overexpressing) and 21 HER2-negative cases of breast invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) to determine the relationship between loss of ARA70 and/or AR with HER2 overexpression. Strong ARA70 immunostaining was observed in all normal and breast epithelial cells in fibrocystic change and in in situ carcinoma present in the patient samples. Of the 41 cases of IDC, focal or complete loss of ARA70 protein expression was observed in 46% of the cases, with 60% of HER2-positive versus 33% of HER2-negative cases showing loss. Loss of AR expression was observed in 60% of HER2-positive versus 43% of HER2-negative cases. Remarkably, only 20% of HER2-positive tumors expressed both AR and ARA70, while 43% of HER2-negative tumors expressed both of these elements of the AR signaling pathway. This trend is consistent with a possible clinical relevance of the potential crosstalk between the HER2 and AR signaling pathways. Western blot analysis for ARA70 expression performed on frozen breast biopsies of normal or malignant breast tissue from four patients revealed a 70 kDa immunoreactive band in all four normal tissue samples, with an additional 35 kDa band in two of the breast cancer samples and in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. This may reflect aberrant splicing in some breast cancers, leading to the emergence of the 35 kDa isoform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Blotting, Western
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology*
  • Cell Division*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivators
  • Oncogene Proteins*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptors, Androgen / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • NCOA4 protein, human
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivators
  • Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors