Elevated Src activity promotes cellular invasion and motility in tamoxifen resistant breast cancer cells

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2006 Jun;97(3):263-74. doi: 10.1007/s10549-005-9120-9. Epub 2005 Dec 7.


Src kinase plays a central role in growth factor signalling, regulating a diverse array of cellular functions including proliferation, migration and invasion. Recent studies have demonstrated that Src activity is frequently elevated in human tumours and correlates with disease stage. We have previously demonstrated that, upon acquisition of tamoxifen resistance, MCF7 cells display increased epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activation and a more aggressive phenotype in vitro. Since tumours exhibiting elevated EGFR signalling may possess elevated levels of Src activity, we wished to investigate the role of Src in our MCF7 model of endocrine resistance. Src kinase activity was significantly elevated in tamoxifen-resistant (TamR) cells in comparison to wild type MCF7 cells. This increase was not due to elevated Src protein or gene expression. Treatment of TamR cells with the novel Src inhibitor, AZD0530, significantly reduced the amount of activated Src detectable in both cell types whilst having no effect on total Src levels. AZD0530 significantly suppressed the motile and invasive nature of TamR cells in vitro, reduced basal levels of activated focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and paxillin and promoted elongation of focal adhesions. Furthermore, the use of this compound in conjunction with the EGFR inhibitor, gefitinib, was markedly additive towards inhibition of TamR cell motility and invasion. These observations suggest that Src plays a pivotal role in mediating the motile and invasive phenotype observed in endocrine-resistant breast cancer cells. The use of Src inhibitors in conjunction with EGFR inhibitors such as gefitinib may provide an effective method with which to prevent cancer progression and metastasis.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Drug Synergism
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Paxillin / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*
  • src-Family Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • src-Family Kinases / genetics
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • PXN protein, human
  • Paxillin
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Quinazolines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tamoxifen
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • PTK2 protein, human
  • src-Family Kinases
  • Gefitinib