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Inhibition of tumor promoting signals by activation of SSTR2 and opioid receptors in human breast cancer cells

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      Somatostatin receptors (SSTRs) and opioid receptors (ORs) belong to the superfamily of G-protein coupled receptors and function as negative regulators of cell proliferation in breast cancer. In the present study, we determined the changes in SSTR subtype 2 (SSTR2) and μ, δ and κ-ORs expression, signaling cascades and apoptosis in three different breast cancer cells namely MCF-7, MDA-MB231 and T47D.


      Immunocytochemistry and western blot analysis were employed to study the colocalization and changes in MAPKs (ERK1/2 and p38), cell survival pathway (PI3K/AKT) and tumor suppressor proteins (PTEN and p53) in breast cancer cell lines. The nature of cell death upon activation of SSTR2 or OR was analysed using flow cytometry analysis.


      The activation of SSTR2 and ORs modulate MAPKs (ERK1/2 and p38) in cell dependent and possibly estrogen receptor (ER) dependent manner. The activation of tumor suppressor proteins phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) and p53 antagonized the PI3K/AKT cell survival pathway. Flow cytometry analyses reveal increased necrosis as opposed to apoptosis in MCF-7 and T47D cells when compared to ER negative MDA-MB231 cells. Furthermore, receptor and agonist dependent expression of ORs in SSTR2 immunoprecipitate suggest that SSTR2 and ORs might interact as heterodimers and inhibit epidermal growth factor receptor phosphorylation.


      Taken together, findings indicate a new role for SSTR2/ORs in modulation of signaling pathways involved in cancer progression and provide novel therapeutic approaches in breast cancer treatment.

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      Most cited references 63

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      A functional genetic approach identifies the PI3K pathway as a major determinant of trastuzumab resistance in breast cancer.

      A large-scale RNA interference screen to discover genes involved in trastuzumab resistance in breast cancer identified only PTEN as a modulator of drug sensitivity. Oncogenic mutants of PIK3CA (activator of the same pathway and frequently mutated in breast cancer) also conferred resistance to trastuzumab in cell culture. In a cohort of 55 breast cancer patients, activation of the PI3K pathway, as judged by the presence of oncogenic PIK3CA mutations or low PTEN expression, was associated with poor prognosis after trastuzumab therapy, and the combined analysis of PTEN and PIK3CA identified twice as many patients at increased risk for progression compared to PTEN alone. Thus, assessment of PI3K pathway activation may provide a biomarker to identify patients unlikely to respond to trastuzumab-based therapy.
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        Activation and signaling of the p38 MAP kinase pathway.

        The family members of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases mediate a wide variety of cellular behaviors in response to extracellular stimuli. One of the four main sub-groups, the p38 group of MAP kinases, serve as a nexus for signal transduction and play a vital role in numerous biological processes. In this review, we highlight the known characteristics and components of the p38 pathway along with the mechanism and consequences of p38 activation. We focus on the role of p38 as a signal transduction mediator and examine the evidence linking p38 to inflammation, cell cycle, cell death, development, cell differentiation, senescence and tumorigenesis in specific cell types. Upstream and downstream components of p38 are described and questions remaining to be answered are posed. Finally, we propose several directions for future research on p38.
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          Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT-mediated activation of estrogen receptor alpha: a new model for anti-estrogen resistance.

          Estrogen receptors (ERs) mediate most of the biological effects of estrogen in mammary and uterine epithelial cells by binding to estrogen response elements in the promoter region of target genes or through protein-protein interactions. Anti-estrogens such as tamoxifen inhibit the growth of ER-positive breast cancers by reducing the expression of estrogen-regulated genes. However, anti-estrogen-resistant growth of ER-positive tumors remains a significant clinical problem. Here we show that phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase and AKT activate ERalpha in the absence of estrogen. Although PI 3-kinase increased the activity of both estrogen-independent activation function 1 (AF-1) and estrogen-dependent activation function 2 (AF-2) of ERalpha, AKT increased the activity of only AF-1. PTEN and a catalytically inactive AKT decreased PI 3-kinase-induced AF-1 activity, suggesting that PI 3-kinase utilizes AKT-dependent and AKT-independent pathways in activating ERalpha. The consensus AKT phosphorylation site Ser-167 of ERalpha is required for phosphorylation and activation by AKT. In addition, LY294002, a specific inhibitor of the PI 3-kinase/AKT pathway, reduced phosphorylation of ERalpha in vivo. Moreover, AKT overexpression led to up-regulation of estrogen-regulated pS2 gene, Bcl-2, and macrophage inhibitory cytokine 1. We demonstrate that AKT protects breast cancer cells from tamoxifen-induced apoptosis. Taken together, these results define a molecular link between activation of the PI 3-kinase/AKT survival pathways, hormone-independent activation of ERalpha, and inhibition of tamoxifen-induced apoptotic regression.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T1Z3, Canada
            Cancer Cell Int
            Cancer Cell Int
            Cancer Cell International
            BioMed Central
            23 September 2013
            : 13
            : 93
            24059654 3852783 1475-2867-13-93 10.1186/1475-2867-13-93
            Copyright © 2013 Kharmate et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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