Epidermal growth factor receptor pathway analysis identifies amphiregulin as a key factor for cisplatin resistance of human breast cancer cells

Niels Eckstein, Kati Servan, Luc Girard, Di Cai, Georg Von Jonquieres, Ulrich Jaehde, Matthias U. Kassack, Adi F. Gazdar, John D. Minna, Hans Dieter Royer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The use of platinum complexes for the therapy of breast cancer is an emerging new treatment modality. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying cisplatin resistance in breast cancer, we used estrogen receptor-positive MCF-7 cells as a model system. We generated cisplatin-resistant MCF-7 cells and determined the functional status of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), MAPK, and AKT signaling pathways by phosphoreceptor tyrosine kinase and phospho-MAPK arrays. The cisplatin-resistant MCF-7 cells are characterized by increased EGFR phosphorylation, high levels of AKT1 kinase activity, and ERK1 phosphorylation. In contrast, the JNK and p38 MAPK modules of the MAPK signaling pathway were inactive. These conditions were associated with inactivation of the p53 pathway and increased BCL-2 expression. We investigated the expression of genes encoding the ligands for the ERBB signaling cascade and found a selective up-regulation of amphiregulin expression, which occurred at later stages of cisplatin resistance development. Amphiregulin is a specific ligand of the EGFR (ERBB1) and a potent mitogen for epithelial cells. After exposure to cisplatin, the resistant MCF-7 cells secreted amphiregulin protein over extended periods of time, and knockdown of amphiregulin expression by specific short interfering RNA resulted in a nearly complete reversion of the resistant phenotype. To demonstrate the generality and importance of our findings, we examined amphiregulin expression and cisplatin resistance in a variety of human breast cancer cell lines and found a highly significant correlation. In contrast, amphiregulin levels did not significantly correlate with cisplatin resistance in a panel of lung cancer cell lines. We have thus identified a novel function of amphiregulin for cisplatin resistance in human breast cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-750
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 11 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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