Trastuzumab, a HER2-targeted antibody, is widely used for targeted therapy of HER2-positive breast cancer (BC) patients; yet, not all of them respond to this treatment. We investigated here whether trastuzumab activity on the growth of HER2-overexpressing BT474 cells may interfere with human peripheral blood endogenous factors. Among 33 individual BC patient blood samples supplemented to the media, BT474 sensitivity to trastuzumab varied up to 14 times. In the absence of trastuzumab, human peripheral blood serum samples could inhibit growth of BT474, and this effect varied ~10 times for 50 individual samples. In turn, the epidermal growth factor (EGF) suppressed the trastuzumab effect on BT474 cell growth. Trastuzumab treatment increased the proportion of BT474 cells in the G0/G1 phases of cell cycle, while simultaneous addition of EGF decreased it, yet not to the control level. We used RNA sequencing profiling of gene expression to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in EGF- and human-sera-mediated attenuation of the trastuzumab effect on BT474 cell growth. Bioinformatic analysis of the molecular profiles suggested that trastuzumab acts similarly to the inhibition of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling axis, and the mechanism of EGF suppression of trastuzumab activity may be associated with parallel activation of PKC and transcriptional factors ETV1-ETV5.
Keywords: BT474; ERBB2 amplification; HER2 overexpression; RNA sequencing; breast cancer; ductal carcinoma; human serum endogenous factors; molecular pathway analysis; personalized medicine; targeted therapy; trastuzumab.