Research Papers:

DUSP4 is associated with increased resistance against anti-HER2 therapy in breast cancer

Otília Menyhart, Jan Budczies, Gyöngyi Munkácsy, Francisco J. Esteva, András Szabó, Teresa Puig Miquel and Balázs Győrffy _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:77207-77218. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20430

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Otília Menyhart1, Jan Budczies2, Gyöngyi Munkácsy1, Francisco J. Esteva3, András Szabó1, Teresa Puig Miquel4 and Balázs Győrffy1,5

1Semmelweis University 2nd Department of Pediatrics, Budapest, Hungary

2Institute of Pathology, Charité University Hospital, Berlin, Germany

3Clinical Cancer Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

4New Terapeutics Targets Laboratory (TargetsLab), Department of Medical Sciences, University of Girona, Girona, Spain

5MTA TTK Lendület Cancer Biomarker Research Group, Institute of Enzymology, Budapest, Hungary

Correspondence to:

Balázs Győrffy, email: [email protected]

Keywords: DUSP4, targeted therapy, trastuzumab, biomarker, breast cancer

Received: March 09, 2017     Accepted: June 27, 2017     Published: August 24, 2017


The majority of patients develop resistance against suppression of HER2-signaling mediated by trastuzumab in HER2 positive breast cancer (BC). HER2 overexpression activates multiple signaling pathways, including the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade. MAPK phosphatases (MKPs) are essential regulators of MAPKs and participate in many facets of cellular regulation, including proliferation and apoptosis. We aimed to identify whether differential MKPs are associated with resistance to targeted therapy in patients previously treated with trastuzumab. Using gene chip data of 88 HER2-positive, trastuzumab treated BC patients, candidate MKPs were identified by Receiver Operator Characteristics analysis performed in R. Genes were ranked using their achieved area under the curve (AUC) values and were further restricted to markers significantly associated with worse survival. Functional significance of the two strongest predictive markers was evaluated in vitro by gene silencing in HER2 overexpressing, trastuzumab resistant BC cell lines SKTR and JIMT-1. The strongest predictive MKPs were DUSP4/MKP-2 (AUC=0.75, p=0.0096) and DUSP6/MKP-3 (AUC=0.77, p=5.29E-05). Higher expression for these correlated to worse survival (DUSP4: HR=2.05, p=0.009 and DUSP6: HR=2, p=0.0015). Silencing of DUSP4 had significant sensitization effects – viability of DUSP4 siRNA transfected, trastuzumab treated cells decreased significantly compared to scramble-siRNA transfected controls (SKTR: p=0.016; JIMT-1: p=0.016). In contrast, simultaneous treatment with DUSP6 siRNA and trastuzumab did not alter cell proliferation. Our findings suggest that DUSP4 may represent a new potential target to overcome trastuzumab resistance.

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