Research Papers:

ErbB2 inhibition by lapatinib promotes degradation of mutant p53 protein in cancer cells

Dun Li and Natalia D. Marchenko _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:5823-5833. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12878

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Dun Li1,2, Natalia D. Marchenko1

1Department of Pathology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794, USA

2Department of Pharmacology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, 02118, USA

Correspondence to:

Natalia D. Marchenko, email: [email protected]

Keywords: lapatinib, mutant p53, ErbB2, Hsp90, MDM2

Received: July 28, 2016     Accepted: October 13, 2016     Published: October 25, 2016


Mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene are the most prevalent genetic events in human Her2-positive breast cancer and are associated with poor prognosis and survival. Human clinical data and our in vitro and in vivo studies strongly suggest potent oncogenic cooperation between mutant p53 and Her2 (ErbB2). Yet, the translational significance of mutant p53 in Her2 positive breast cancer, especially with respect to Her2-targeted therapies, has not been evaluated. Our previous work identified novel oncogenic activity of mutant p53 whereby mutp53 amplifies ErbB2 signaling via the mutp53-HSF1-ErbB2 feed-forward loop. Here we report that pharmacological interception of this circuit by ErbB2 inhibitor lapatinib downregulates mutant p53 in vitro and in vivo. We found that ErbB2 inhibition by lapatinib inhibits transcription factor HSF1, and its target Hsp90, followed by mutant p53 degradation in MDM2 dependent manner. Thus, our data suggest that mutant p53 sensitizes cancer cells to lapatinib via two complementary mechanisms: mutant p53 mediated amplification of ErbB2 signaling, and simultaneous annihilation of both potent oncogenic drivers, ErbB2 and mutant p53. Hence, our study could provide valuable information for the optimization of therapeutic protocols to achieve superior clinical effects in the treatment of Her2 positive breast cancer.

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