The HER2- and heregulin b1 (HRG)-inducible TNFR superfamily member Fn14 promotes HRG-driven breast cancer cell migration, invasion, and MMP9 expression

Kaushal Asrani, Ruth A. Keri, Rebeca Galisteo, Sharron A.N. Brown, Sarah J. Morgan, Arundhati Ghosh, Nhan L. Tran, Jeffrey A. Winkles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


HER2 overexpression occurs in 15% to 20% of all breast cancers and is associated with increased metastatic potential and poor patient survival. Abnormal HER2 activation, either through HER2 overexpression or heregulin (HRG):HER3 binding, elicits the formation of potent HER2-HER3 heterodimers and drives breast cancer cell growth and metastasis. In a previous study, we found that fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14), a member of the TNF receptor superfamily, was frequently overexpressed in human HER2+ breast tumors. We report here that HER2 and Fn14 are also coexpressed in mammary tumors that develop in two different transgenic mouse models of breast cancer. In consideration of these findings, we investigated whether HER2 activation in breast cancer cells could directly induce Fn14 gene expression. We found that transient or stable transfection of MCF7 cells with a HER2 expression plasmid increased Fn14 protein levels. Also, HRG1-β1 treatment of MCF7 cells transiently induced Fn14 mRNA and protein expression. Both the HER2- and HRG1-β1-induced increase in Fn14 expression in MCF7 cells as well as basal Fn14 expression in HER2 gene-amplified AU565 cells could be reduced by HER2 kinase inhibition with lapatinib or combined HER2 and HER3 depletion using siRNA. We also report that Fn14-depleted, HER2-overexpressing MCF7 cells have reduced basal cell migration capacity and reduced HRG1-β1-stimulated cell migration, invasion, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 expression. Together, these results indicate that Fn14 may be an important downstream regulator of HER2/HER3-driven breast cancer cell migration and invasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-404
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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