Activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and downstream signaling pathways, such as phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/Akt and Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), have been implicated in causing resistance to EGFR-targeted therapy in solid tumors, including the urogenital tumors. To investigate the mechanism of resistance to EGFR inhibition in bladder cancer, we compared EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (Gefitinib, Iressa, ZD1839) with respect to its inhibitory effects on three kinases situated downstream of EGFR: MAPK, Akt, and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). We found that the resistance to the antiproliferative effects of gefitinib, in vitro as well as in vivo in nude mice models, was associated with uncoupling between EGFR and MAPK inhibition, and that GSK-3β activation and degradation of its target cyclin D1 were indicators of a high cell sensitivity to gefitinib. Further analysis of one phenotypic sensitive (253J B-V) and resistant (UM-UC13) cell lines revealed that platelet-derived growth factor receptor-β (PDGFRβ) activation was responsible for short circuiting the EGFR/MAPK pathway for mitogenic stimuli. However, invasion as well as actin dynamics were efficiently reduced by EGFR inhibition in UM-UC13. Chemical disruption of signaling pathways or of PDGFR kinase activity significantly reduced the inactive pool of cellular GSK-3β in UM-UC13 cells. In conclusion, our data show that the uncoupling of EGFR with mitogenic pathways can cause resistance to EGFR inhibition in bladder cancer. Although this uncoupling may arise through different mechanisms, we suggest that the resistance of bladder cancer cells to EGFR blockade can be predicted early in the course of treatment by measuring the activation of GSK-3β and of nuclear cyclin D1.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research