HER2 as a potential therapeutic target on quiescent prostate cancer cells

Transl Oncol. 2023 Feb 18;31:101642. doi: 10.1016/j.tranon.2023.101642. Online ahead of print.


Quiescent prostate cancer (PCa) cells are common in tumors but are often resistant to chemotherapy. Quiescent PCa cells are also enriched for a stem-like tumor initiating population, and can lead to recurrence after dormancy. Unfortunately, quiescent PCa cells are difficult to identify and / or target with treatment in part because the relevant markers are intracellular and regulated by protein stability. We addressed this problem by utilizing PCa cells expressing fluorescent markers for CDKN1B (p27) and CDT1, which can separate viable PCa cells into G0, G1, or combined S/G2/M populations. We used FACS to collect G1 and G0 PC3 PCa cells, isolated membrane proteins, and analyzed protein abundance in G0 vs G1 cells by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Enrichment analysis identified nucleocytoplasmic transport as the most significantly different pathway. To identify cell surface proteins potentially identifying quiescent PCa cells for future patient samples or for antibody based therapeutic research, we focused on differentially abundant plasma membrane proteins, and identified ERBB2 (HER2) as a cell surface protein enriched on G0 PCa cells. High HER2 on the cell membrane is associated with quiescence in PCa cells and likely induced by the bone microenvironment. Using a drug conjugated anti-HER2 antibody (trastuzumab emtansine) in a mouse PCa xenograft model delayed metastatic tumor growth, suggesting approaches that target HER2-high cells may be beneficial in treating PCa. We propose that HER2 is deserving of further study in PCa as a target on quiescent cells to prevent recurrence, decrease chemotherapy resistance, or eradicate minimal residual disease.

PMID:36805918 | DOI:10.1016/j.tranon.2023.101642


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