Although it is established that fatty acid (FA) synthesis supports anabolic growth in cancer, the role of exogenous FA uptake remains elusive. Here we show that, during acquisition of resistance to HER2 inhibition, metabolic rewiring of breast cancer cells favors reliance on exogenous FA uptake over de novo FA synthesis. Through cDNA microarray analysis, we identify the FA transporter CD36 as a critical gene upregulated in cells with acquired resistance to the HER2 inhibitor lapatinib. Accordingly, resistant cells exhibit increased exogenous FA uptake and metabolic plasticity. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of CD36 suppresses the growth of lapatinib-resistant but not lapatinib-sensitive cells in vitro and in vivo. Deletion of Cd36 in mammary tissues of MMTV-neu mice significantly attenuates tumorigenesis. In breast cancer patients, CD36 expression increases following anti-HER2 therapy, which correlates with a poor prognosis. Our results define CD36-mediated metabolic rewiring as an essential survival mechanism in HER2-positive breast cancer.
Keywords: AKT; ERK; FASN; HER2; MAPK; drug resistance; lipid metabolism; tyrosine kinase.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.