Purpose: FGFR1 amplification occurs in approximately 15% of estrogen receptor–positive (ER+) human breast cancers. We investigated mechanisms by which FGFR1 amplification confers antiestrogen resistance to ER+ breast cancer. Experimental Design: ER+ tumors from patients treated with letrozole before surgery were subjected to Ki67 IHC, FGFR1 FISH, and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). ER+/FGFR1–amplified breast cancer cells, and patient-derived xenografts (PDX) were treated with FGFR1 siRNA or the FGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor lucitanib. Endpoints were cell/xenograft growth, FGFR1/ERa association by coimmunoprecipitation and proximity ligation, ER genomic activity by ChIP sequencing, and gene expression by RT-PCR. Results: ER+/FGFR1–amplified tumors in patients treated with letrozole maintained cell proliferation (Ki67). Estrogen deprivation increased total and nuclear FGFR1 and FGF ligands expression in ER+/FGFR1–amplified primary tumors and breast cancer cells. In estrogen-free conditions, FGFR1 associated with ERα in tumor cell nuclei and regulated the transcription of ER-dependent genes. This association was inhibited by a kinase-dead FGFR1 mutant and by treatment with lucitanib. ChIP-seq analysis of estrogen-deprived ER+/FGFR1–amplified cells showed binding of FGFR1 and ERα to DNA. Treatment with fulvestrant and/or lucitanib reduced FGFR1 and ERα binding to DNA. RNA-seq data from FGFR1-amplified patients' tumors treated with letrozole showed enrichment of estrogen response and E2F target genes. Finally, growth of ER+/FGFR1–amplified cells and PDXs was more potently inhibited by fulvestrant and lucitanib combined than each drug alone. Conclusions: These data suggest the ERα pathway remains active in estrogen-deprived ER+/FGFR1–amplified breast cancers. Therefore, these tumors are endocrine resistant and should be candidates for treatment with combinations of ER and FGFR antagonists.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research