Dissecting GRB7-mediated signals for proliferation and migration in HER2 overexpressing breast tumor cells: GTP-ase rules

Am J Cancer Res. 2013 Apr 3;3(2):173-95. Print 2013.


Amplification of human Her2 and its aberrant signaling in 20-30% of early breast cancer patients is responsible for highly aggressive tumors with poor outcome. Grb7 is reported to be co-amplified with Her2. We report a concurrent high expression of mRNA (from FFPE tumor samples; mRNA correlation, Pearson r(2)= 0.806), and high levels of GRB7 protein (immunoblot) in HER2+ breast cancer cell lines. We demonstrated the signaling mechanism of HER2 and downstream effectors that contributes to proliferation and migration. Using HER2+ and trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cell lines, we identified the interaction between GRB7 and HER2 in the control of HER2+ cell proliferation. Our co-IP data show that GRB7 recruits SHC into the HER2-GRB7 signaling complex. This complex formation leads to activation of RAS-GTP. We also observed that following integrin engagement, GRB7 is phosphorylated at tyrosine in a p-FAK (Y397) dependent manner. This FAK-GRB7 complex leads to downstream activation of RAC1-GTP (responsible for migration) probably through the recruitment of VAV2. Our CO-IP data demonstrate that GRB7 directly binds with VAV2 following fibronectin engagement in HER2+ cells. To address whether GRB7 could serve as a pathway specific therapeutic target, we used siRNA to suppress GRB7 expression. Knockdown of GRB7 expression in the HER2+ breast cancer cell lines decreases RAS activation, cell proliferation, 2D and 3D colony formation and also blocked integrin-mediated RAC1 activation along with integrin-directed cell migration. These findings dissected the HER2-mediated signaling cascade into (1) HER2+ cell proliferation (HER2-GRB7-SHC-RAS) and (2) HER2+ cell migration (alpha5 beta1/alpha4 beta1-FAK-GRB7-VAV2-RAC1). Our data clearly demonstrate that a coupling of GRB7 with HER2 is required for the proliferative and migratory signals in HER2+ breast tumor cells.

Keywords: GRB7; Her2/Neu; RAC; RAS; adapter protein; proliferation and migration.