Loss of E-cadherin Enhances IGF1-IGF1R Pathway Activation and Sensitizes Breast Cancers to Anti-IGF1R/InsR Inhibitors

Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Oct 15;24(20):5165-5177. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-0279. Epub 2018 Jun 25.


Purpose: Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) signaling regulates breast cancer initiation and progression and associated cancer phenotypes. We previously identified E-cadherin (CDH1) as a repressor of IGF1 signaling and in this study examined how loss of E-cadherin affects IGF1R signaling and response to anti-IGF1R/insulin receptor (InsR) therapies in breast cancer.Experimental Design: Breast cancer cell lines were used to assess how altered E-cadherin levels regulate IGF1R signaling and response to two anti-IGF1R/InsR therapies. In situ proximity ligation assay (PLA) was used to define interaction between IGF1R and E-cadherin. TCGA RNA-seq and RPPA data were used to compare IGF1R/InsR activation in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) and invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) tumors. ER+ ILC cell lines and xenograft tumor explant cultures were used to evaluate efficacy to IGF1R pathway inhibition in combination with endocrine therapy.Results: Diminished functional E-cadherin increased both activation of IGF1R signaling and efficacy to anti-IGF1R/InsR therapies. PLA demonstrated a direct endogenous interaction between IGF1R and E-cadherin at points of cell-cell contact. Increased expression of IGF1 ligand and levels of IGF1R/InsR phosphorylation were observed in E-cadherin-deficient ER+ ILC compared with IDC tumors. IGF1R pathway inhibitors were effective in inhibiting growth in ER+ ILC cell lines and synergized with endocrine therapy and similarly IGF1R/InsR inhibition reduced proliferation in ILC tumor explant culture.Conclusions: We provide evidence that loss of E-cadherin hyperactivates the IGF1R pathway and increases sensitivity to IGF1R/InsR targeted therapy, thus identifying the IGF1R pathway as a potential novel target in E-cadherin-deficient breast cancers. Clin Cancer Res; 24(20); 5165-77. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Receptors, Somatomedin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Somatomedin / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cadherins
  • IGF1 protein, human
  • IGF1R protein, human
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Somatomedin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1