AMP-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) activity retards growth of many types of cancers. Investigating effects of AMPK activation on breast cancer cell signaling and survival, we found that breast cancer cell lines with amplification and over-expression of HER2 or EGFR are 2- to 5-fold more sensitive to cytotoxic effects of AICAR, a canonical pharmacological activator of AMPK, than breast cancer cell lines lacking HER2 or EGFR overexpression. Paralleling effects on cell survival, AICAR leads to dose- and time-dependent inhibition of HER2 and EGFR in HER2-amplified breast cancer cells, with activation of AMPK and suppression of HER2/ EGFR activity preceding commitment to cell death. Transfection of constitutively active AMPKa also leads to decreased HER2 and EGFR phosphorylation, reduced downstream signaling associated with these receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), and reduced breast cancer cell growth, confirming effects of AMPK activity on HER2/ EGFR. Ensuing co-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated an interaction of HER2 with AMPK and an in vitro phosphorylation assay found that HER2 and EGFR contain sequences that are potential substrates for AMPK. Our results lead us to postulate that AMPK regulates HER2 and EGFR activity in HER2-amplified breast cancer cells and thus activation of AMPK might provide therapeutic benefit in such cancers.
- AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)
- Cancer cell metabolism
- Cancer therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas