Targeting Cholesterol-Rich Microdomains to Circumvent Tamoxifen-Resistant Breast Cancer
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Adjuvant treatment with tamoxifen substantially improves survival of women with estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) tumors. Tamoxifen resistance (TAMR) limits clinical benefit. RRR alpha tocopherol ether-linked acetic acid analogue (alpha-TEA) is a small bioactive lipid with potent anticancer activity. We evaluated the ability of alpha-TEA in the presence of tamoxifen to circumvent TAMR in human breast cancer cell lines. Methods: Two genotypically matched sets of TAM-sensitive (TAMS) and TAM-resistant (TAMR) human breast cancer cell lines were assessed for signal-transduction events with Western blotting, apoptosis induction with Annexin V-FITC/PI assays, and characterization of cholesterol-rich microdomains with fluorescence staining. Critical involvement of selected mediators was determined by using RNA interference and chemical inhibitors. Results: Growth-factor receptors (total and phosphorylated forms of HER-1 and HER-2), their downstream prosurvival mediators pAkt, pmTOR, and pERK1/2, phosphorylated form of estrogen receptor-alpha (pER-alpha at Ser-167 and Ser-118, and cholesterol-rich lipid microdomains were highly amplified in TAMR cell lines and enhanced by treatment with TAM. alpha-TEA disrupted cholesterol-rich microdomains, acted cooperatively with TAM to reduce prosurvival mediators, and induced DR5-mediated mitochondria-dependent apoptosis via an endoplasmic reticulum stress-triggered pro-death pJNK/CHOP/DR5 amplification loop. Furthermore, methyl-beta-cyclodextrin (M beta CD), a chemical disruptor of cholesterol rich microdomains, acted cooperatively with TAM to reduce prosurvival mediators and to induce apoptosis. Conclusions: Data for the first time document that targeting cholesterol-rich lipid microdomains is a potential strategy to circumvent TAMR, and the combination of alpha-TEA + TAM can circumvent TAMR by suppression of prosurvival signaling via disruption of cholesterol-rich lipid microdomains and activation of apoptotic pathways via induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress.