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Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Spears M.,Ontario Cancer Institute | Spears M.,Endocrine Cancer Research Group | Cunningham C.A.,Endocrine Cancer Research Group | Taylor K.J.,Edinburgh Breakthrough Breast Cancer Unit | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Pathology | Year: 2012

The PI3K/Akt signal transduction pathway plays an important role in cancer progression and cell survival. Akt activation is associated with poor outcome in endocrine-treated breast cancer, whereas high levels of cytoplasmic Akt2 are associated with an improved overall survival. Proximity ligation assays (PLAs) were used to determine quantitative expression levels of isoform-specific activation (phosphorylation) of Akt1 and Akt2 in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded cell lines and breast cancer tumour tissues in situ. PLAs demonstrated a range of expression in breast cancer samples for total pAkt1 and pAkt2. High levels of pAkt1 were associated with reduced DRFS (HR: 1.45, 95% CI 1.14-1.83, p = 0.002) and OS (HR: 1.42, 95% CI 1.10-1.83, p = 0.007). When PLA results were combined, patients that had high levels of pAkt1 only had a significantly decreased DRFS (HR: 1.92, 95% CI 1.34-2.76, p = 0.005) and OS (HR: 1.94, 95% CI 1.32-2.86, p = 0.008) compared to other patients. Using PLAs to discriminate activation of Akt1 versus Akt2 suggests that Akt1 drives progression in early breast cancers. In cases where both Akt1/Akt2 are activated, Akt2 may act to reverse this effect. Using PLAs, we have measured activation of Akt1 and Akt2 proteins separately in situ in FFPE breast cancer samples. © 2012 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Source

Spears M.,Edinburgh Breakthrough Breast Cancer Unit | Spears M.,Endocrine Cancer Research Group | Taylor K.J.,Edinburgh Breakthrough Breast Cancer Unit | Taylor K.J.,Endocrine Cancer Research Group | And 8 more authors.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment | Year: 2012

HER2 overexpression/amplification is linked with poor prognosis in early breast cancer. Co-expression of HER2 and HER3 is associated with endocrine and chemotherapy resistance, driven not simply by expression but by signalling via HER2:HER3 or HER2:HER2 dimers. Proximity ligation assays (PLAs) detect protein-protein complexes at a single-molecule level and allow study of signalling pathways in situ. A cohort of 100 tumours was analyzed by PLA, IHC and FISH. HER complexes were analyzed by PLA in a further 321 tumours from the BR9601 trial comparing cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil (CMF) with epirubicin followed by CMF (epi-CMF). The relationships between HER dimer expression and RFS and OS were investigated, and multivariate regression analysis identified factors influencing patient prognosis. PLA successfully and reproducibly detected HER2:HER2 and HER2:HER3 protein complexes in vivo. A significant association (P < 0.00001) was identified between HER2 homodimerization and HER2 gene amplification. Following a minimum p value approach high levels of HER2:HER2 dimers were significantly associated with reduced relapse-free (RFS; hazard ratio = 1.72, 95% confidence interval 1.15-2.56, P = 0.008) and overall survival (OS HR = 1.69 95% CI = 1.09-2.62, P = 0.019). Similarly, high levels of HER2:HER3 dimers were associated with reduced RFS (HR = 2.18, 95% CI = 1.46-3.26, P = 0.00016) and OS (HR = 2.21, 95% CI = 1.41-3.47, P = 0.001). This study demonstrates that in situ detection of HER2 and HER2:3 protein:protein complexes can be performed robustly and reproducibly in clinical specimens, provides novel prognostic information and opens a significant novel opportunity to probe the clinical impact of cellular signalling processes. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source

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