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Hyperexpression of Integrin α5β1 Promotes Resistance of MCF-7 Human Breast Carcinoma Cells to Doxorubicin via ERK Protein Kinase Down-regulation

G. E. Morozevich1, N. I. Kozlova1, O. Y. Susova2, A. Y. Lupatov1, and A. E. Berman1*

1Orekhovich Institute of Biomedical Chemistry, 119121 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: 1938berman@gmail.com

2Blokhin Russian Oncological Center, 115478 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: susovaolga@gmail.com

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received March 14, 2017; Revision received May 11, 2017
In MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cells, α5β1 integrin hyperexpression, which was accomplished by transduction of a full-length α5 integrin cDNA, increased by about 50-70% the number of cells, survived during 48-72 h cell treatment with doxorubicin. Up-regulation of α5β1 reduced the level of the apoptogenic p53 protein and p21 cell cycle inhibitor, but enhanced the activity of Akt and mTOR protein kinases. In addition to these findings, we observed a significant decrease in the activity of both isoforms of phosphokinase Erk1/2, which is known to play a key role in cell viability pathways, including pathways alleviating stress damages caused by distinct antitumor drugs. Diminished Erk activity accompanying the rise of drug resistance can be explained by an “atypical” function of this kinase, which, in the cells studied, promotes an enhanced rather than reduced sensitivity to doxorubicin. To verify this suggestion, the effect of a specific Erk inhibitor, PD98059, on the resistance to doxorubicin of control and α5 cDNA-transduced MCF-7 cells was investigated. The data showed that suppression of Erk activity increased the resistance of control cells (transduced with an “empty” vector) to a level higher than that demonstrated by the α5 cDNA-transduced cells. The highest level of resistance was observed in α5β1-trancduced cells treated with PD98059. Akt and mTOR kinase inhibitors had little if any effect on doxorubicin resistance of α5 cDNA-transduced MCF-7 cells. The data show for the first time that integrin α5β1 can stimulate drug resistance of tumor cells through a mechanism based on the inhibition of protein kinase Erk. From a more general view, the results of this investigation suggest that signal protein kinases can perform in tumor cells “non-canonical” functions, opposite to those, which are the basis for using kinase inhibitors in targeted cancer therapy. It follows that if a protein kinase is supposed to be used as a target for such therapy, it is important to explore its features in the particular tumor prior to the onset of treatment.
KEY WORDS: integrins, tumor growth, drug resistance, Erk protein kinase, signaling

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297917090048