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Despite the benefit of endocrine therapy, acquired resistance during or after treatment still remains a major challenge in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. We investigated the potential role of histone demethylase retinoblastoma-binding protein 2 (RBP2) in endocrine therapy resistance of breast cancer. Survival of breast cancer patients according to RBP2 expression was analyzed in three different breast cancer cohorts including METABRIC (n = 1980) and KM plotter (n = 1764). RBP2-mediated tamoxifen resistance was confirmed by invitro sulforhodamine B (SRB) colorimetric, colony-forming assays, and invivo xenograft models (n = 8 per group). RNA-seq analysis and receptor tyrosine kinase assay were performed to identify the tamoxifen resistance mechanism by RBP2. All statistical tests were two-sided. RBP2 was associated with poor prognosis to tamoxifen therapy in ER-positive breast cancer (P = .04 in HYU cohort, P = .02 in KM plotter, P = .007 in METABRIC, log-rank test). Furthermore, RBP2 expression was elevated in patients with tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer (P = .04, chi-square test). Knockdown of RBP2 conferred tamoxifen sensitivity, whereas overexpression of RBP2 induced tamoxifen resistance invitro and invivo (MCF7 xenograft: tamoxifen-treated control, mean [SD] tumor volume = 70.8 [27.9] mm3, vs tamoxifen-treated RBP2, mean [SD] tumor volume = 387.9 [85.1] mm3, P < .001). Mechanistically, RBP2 cooperated with ER co-activators and corepressors and regulated several tamoxifen resistance-associated genes, including NRIP1, CCND1, and IGFBP4 and IGFBP5. Furthermore, epigenetic silencing of IGFBP4/5 by RBP2-ER-NRIP1-HDAC1 complex led to insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) activation. RBP2 also increased IGF1R-ErbB crosstalk and subsequent PI3K-AKT activation via demethylase activity-independent ErbB protein stabilization. Combinational treatment with tamoxifen and PI3K inhibitor could overcome RBP2-mediated tamoxifen resistance (RBP2-overexpressing cells: % cell viability [SD], tamoxifen = 89.0 [3.8]%, vs tamoxifen with BKM120 = 41.3 [5.6]%, P < .001). RBP2 activates ER-IGF1R-ErbB signaling cascade in multiple ways to induce tamoxifen resistance, suggesting that RBP2 is a potential therapeutic target for ER-driven cancer.


Hee-Joo Choi, Hyeong-Seok Joo, Hee-Young Won, Kyueng-Whan Min, Hyung-Yong Kim, Taekwon Son, Young-Ha Oh, Jeong-Yeon Lee, Gu Kong. Role of RBP2-Induced ER and IGF1R-ErbB Signaling in Tamoxifen Resistance in Breast Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2018 Apr 01;110(4)

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PMID: 29028222

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