We have reported that a novel isoform of BTK (BTK-C) expressed in breast cancer protects these cells from apoptosis. In this study, we show that recently developed inhibitors of BTK, such as ibrutinib (PCI-32765), AVL-292, and CGI-1746, reduce breast cancer cell survival and prevent drug-resistant clones from arising. Ibrutinib treatment impacts HER2+ breast cancer cell viability at lower concentrations than the established breast cancer therapeutic lapatinib. In addition to inhibiting BTK, ibrutinib, but not AVL-292 and CGI-1746, efficiently blocks the activation of EGFR, HER2, ErbB3, and ErbB4. Consequently, the activation of AKT and ERK signaling pathways are also blocked leading to a G1–S cell-cycle delay and increased apoptosis. Importantly, inhibition of BTK prevents activation of the AKT signaling pathway by NRG or EGF that has been shown to promote growth factor–driven lapatinib resistance in HER2+ breast cancer cells. HER2+ breast cancer cell proliferation is blocked by ibrutinib even in the presence of these factors. AVL-292, which has no effect on EGFR family activation, prevents NRG- and EGF-dependent growth factor–driven resistance to lapatinib in HER2+ breast cancer cells. In vivo, ibrutinib inhibits HER2+ xenograft tumor growth. Consistent with this, immunofluorescence analysis of xenograft tumors shows that ibrutinib reduces the phosphorylation of HER2, BTK, Akt, and Erk and histone H3 and increases cleaved caspase-3 signals. As BTK-C and HER2 are often coexpressed in human breast cancers, these observations indicate that BTK-C is a potential therapeutic target and that ibrutinib could be an effective drug especially for HER2+ breast cancer. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(9); 1–11. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received October 8, 2015.
- Revision received April 12, 2016.
- Accepted May 19, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.