BCAR4 induces antioestrogen resistance but sensitises breast cancer to lapatinib

M. F.E. Godinho*, J. D. Wulfkuhle, M. P. Look, A. M. Sieuwerts, S. Sleijfer, J. A. Foekens, E. F. Petricoin, L. C.J. Dorssers, T. Van Agthoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: High BCAR4 and ERBB2 mRNA levels in primary breast cancer associate with tamoxifen resistance and poor patient outcome. We determined whether BCAR4 expression sensitises breast cancer cells to lapatinib, and identifies a subgroup of patients who possibly may benefit from ERBB2-targeted therapies despite having tumours with low ERBB2 expression. Methods :Proliferation assays were applied to determine the effect of BCAR4 expression on lapatinib treatment. Changes in cell signalling were quantified with reverse-phase protein microarrays. Quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of ERBB2 and BCAR4 was performed in 1418 primary breast cancers. Combined BCAR4 and ERBB2 mRNA levels were evaluated for association with progression-free survival (PFS) in 293 oestrogen receptor-α (ER)-positive patients receiving tamoxifen as first-line monotherapy for recurrent disease.Results:BCAR4 expression strongly sensitised ZR-75-1 and MCF7 breast cancer cells to the combination of lapatinib and antioestrogens. Lapatinib interfered with phosphorylation of ERBB2 and its downstream mediators AKT, FAK, SHC, STAT5, and STAT6. Reverse transcriptase-PCR analysis showed that 27.6% of the breast cancers were positive for BCAR4 and 22% expressed also low levels of ERBB2. The clinical significance of combining BCAR4 and ERBB2 mRNA status was underscored by the finding that the group of patients having BCAR4-positive/ERBB2-low-expressing cancers had a shorter PFS on tamoxifen treatment than the BCAR4-negative group. Conclusion :This study shows that BCAR4 expression identifies a subgroup of ER-positive breast cancer patients without overexpression of ERBB2 who have a poor outcome and might benefit from combined ERBB2-targeted and antioestrogen therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-955
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • BCAR4
  • ERBB2
  • breast cancer
  • tamoxifen resistance
  • targeted therapy


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