Suppression of Her2/neu expression through ILK inhibition is regulated by a pathway involving TWIST and YB-1.
In a previous study it was found that the therapeutic effects of QLT0267, a small molecule inhibitor of integrin-linked kinase (ILK), were influenced by Her2/neu expression. To understand how inhibition or silencing of ILK influences Her2/neu expression, Her2/neu signaling was evaluated in six Her2/neu-positive breast cancer cell lines (LCC6(Her2), MCF7(Her2), SKBR3, BT474, JIMT-1 and KPL-4). Treatment with QLT0267 engendered suppression (32-87%) of total Her2/neu protein in these cells. Suppression of Her2/neu was also observed following small interfering RNA-mediated silencing of ILK expression. Time course studies suggest that ILK inhibition or silencing caused transient decreases in P-AKT(ser473), which were not temporally related to Her2/neu downregulation. Attenuation of ILK activity or expression was, however, associated with decreases in YB-1 (Y-box binding protein-1) protein and transcript levels. YB-1 is a known transcriptional regulator of Her2/neu expression, and in this study it is demonstrated that inhibition of ILK activity using QLT0267 decreased YB-1 promoter activity by 50.6%. ILK inhibition was associated with changes in YB-1 localization, as reflected by localization of cytoplasmic YB-1 into stress granules. ILK inhibition also suppressed TWIST (a regulator of YB-1 expression) protein expression. To confirm the role of ILK on YB-1 and TWIST, cells were engineered to overexpress ILK. This was associated with a fourfold increase in the level of YB-1 in the nucleus, and a 2- and 1.5-fold increase in TWIST and Her2/neu protein levels, respectively. Taken together, these data indicate that ILK regulates the expression of Her2/neu through TWIST and YB-1, lending support to the use of ILK inhibitors in the treatment of aggressive Her2/neu-positive tumors.
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