Research Papers:

Inhibition of HER2-Integrin signaling by Cucurbitacin B leads to in vitro and in vivo breast tumor growth suppression

Parul Gupta and Sanjay K. Srivastava _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:1812-1828. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1743

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Parul Gupta1 and Sanjay K. Srivastava1,2

1 Department of Biomedical Sciences and Cancer Biology Center, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Amarillo, TX, USA.

2 Cancer Preventive Material Development Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Department of Pathology, Kyunghee University, 1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-ku, Seoul, South Korea


Sanjay K. Srivastava, email:

Keywords: Breast cancer, in vivo, ITGB4, ITGA6, Cucurbitacin B

Received: December 25, 2013 Accepted: February 24, 2014 Published: February 25, 2014


HER2, an oncogenic receptor is overexpressed in about 25-30% of breast cancer patients. HER2 has been shown to play role in tumor promotion by having cross-talk with multiple oncogenic pathways in cancer cells. Our results show that Cucurbitacin B (CuB), a triterpenoid steroidal compound inhibited the growth of various breast cancer cells with an IC50 ranging from 18-50nM after 48 and 72 h of treatment. Our study also revealed the significant inhibitory effects of CuB on HER2 and integrin signaling in breast cancer. Notably, CuB inhibited ITGA6 and ITGB4 (integrin α6 & integrin β4), which are overexpressed in breast cancer. Furthermore, CuB also induced the expression of major ITGB1and ITGB3, which are known to cause integrin-mediated cell death. In addition, we observed that TGFβ treatment resulted in the increased association of HER2 with ITGA6 and this association was inhibited by CuB treatment. Efficacy of CuB was tested in vivo using two different orthotopic models of breast cancer. MDA-MB-231 and 4T-1 cells were injected orthotopically in the mammary fat pad of female athymic nude mice or BALB/c mice respectively. Our results showed that CuB administration inhibited MDA-MB-231 orthotopic tumors by 55%, and 4T-1 tumors by 40%. The 4T-1 cells represent stage IV breast cancer and form very aggressive tumors. CuB mediated breast tumor growth suppression was associated with the inhibition of HER2/integrin signaling. Our results suggest novel targets of CuB in breast cancer in vitro and in vivo.

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