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Aberrant expression of cortactin in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells is associated with enhanced cell proliferation and resistance to the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor gefitinib


The CTTN gene (formerly designated EMS1), encodes cortactin, a key regulator of dynamic actin networks. Both CTTN and CCND1, the latter encoding the cell cycle regulator cyclin D1, reside at chromosomal locus 11q13, a region commonly amplified in breast cancers and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Previously, we identified a novel role for cortactin in cancer cells, whereby cortactin overexpression attenuated ligand-induced down-regulation of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR), leading to sustained signaling. However, how this affected growth factor-induced cellular responses was unclear. Here, by modulation of cortactin expression in a panel of HNSCC cell lines, we show that cortactin overexpression enhances serum- and EGF-stimulated proliferation under both anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent conditions and also increases resistance to anoikis (detachment-induced apoptosis). These effects are associated with increased activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase and/or AKT. Furthermore, we report that cortactin stabilizes the c-MET receptor tyrosine kinase and enhances hepatocyte growth factor-induced mitogenesis and cell scattering. Therefore, cortactin may modulate signaling by a broader range of receptors than originally proposed and thereby affect a variety of responses. Finally, we have determined that cortactin overexpression, either alone or in combination with cyclin D1 up-regulation, promotes resistance to the EGFR kinase inhibitor gefitinib. These findings indicate that cortactin may play multiple roles in progression of HNSCC and should be evaluated as a marker of prognosis, disease progression, and therapeutic responsiveness, particularly to EGFR-directed agents.

Type Journal
ISBN 0008-5472 (Print)
Authors Timpson, P.;Wilson, A. S.;Lehrbach, G. M.;Sutherland, R. L.;Musgrove, E. A.;Daly, R. J. :
Published Date 2007-01-01
Published Volume 67
Published Issue 19
Published Pages 9304-14
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version