Upregulation of VEGF through p70S6K in ErbB2 -mediated angiogenesis and inhibition by combined herceptin plus taxol therapy

Kristine Sue Klos, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


ErbB2 overexpression in breast tumors increases metastasis, angiogenesis, and reduces survival. To study ErbB2 signaling mechanisms in metastasis and angiogenesis, a spontaneous metastasis assay was performed using human breast cancer cells transfected with constitutively active ErbB2 kinase (V659E), an ErbB2 kinase-dead mutant (K753M), or vector control. Mice injected with V659E had increased metastasis and tumor microvessel density; and the increased angiogenesis in vivo from the V659E transfectants paralleled increased angiogenic potential in vitro, which resulted from increased VEGF by increased protein synthesis. This appeared to be mediated through a PI3K, Akt, mTOR, p70S6K-signaling pathway. Furthermore, V659E xenografts had significantly increased phosphorylated Akt, phosphorylated p70S6K, and VEGF compared with control. To validate the clinical relevance of these findings, human breast tumor samples were examined. Tumors overexpressing ErbB2 correlated with p70S6K phosphorylation and VEGF expression, which significantly correlated with higher levels of Akt and mTOR phosphorylation. Additionally, patients with tumors having increased p70S6K phosphorylation showed a trend for worse disease-free survival and increased metastasis. Together, ErbB2 increases VEGF expression by activating the p70S6K signaling pathway, which may serve as targets for antiangiogenic and antimetastatic therapies. Herceptin is an anti-ErbB2 antibody that demonstrated anti-tumor function, especially in combination with other chemotherapies such as Taxol, in patients with ErbB2-overexpressing tumors. Since the repeated administration of low-dose chemotherapy endorsed an antiangiogenic effect in vitro, and Herceptin was shown to inhibit angiogenesis in tumor xenografts, I investigated whether combined Taxol plus Herceptin treatment inhibits ErbB2-mediated angiogenic responses more effectively. Mice with ErbB2-overexpressing xenografts were treated with control, Herceptin, Taxol, or combination Herceptin plus Taxol. Mice treated with the combination exhibited reduced tumor volumes, tumor microvessel densities, and lung metastasis; and ErbB2-overexpressing cells treated with the combination secreted less VEGF, and stimulated less endothelial cell migration. Furthermore, Akt phosphorylation contributed to VEGF upregulation and was most effectively reduced by combination treatment. In summary, ErbB2 activates signaling to Akt and p70S6K leading to increased VEGF and angiogenesis. Combination Herceptin plus Taxol treatment most effectively inhibited ErbB2-mediated angiogenesis, resulting in pronounced tumoricidal effects, and may be mediated through reduction of phosphorylated Akt, a positive regulator in the p70S6K pathway.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Klos, Kristine Sue, "Upregulation of VEGF through p70S6K in ErbB2 -mediated angiogenesis and inhibition by combined herceptin plus taxol therapy" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3168440.