HER2/HER3 signaling regulates NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity via MHC class I chain-related molecule A and B expression in human breast cancer cell lines.

Okita R, Mougiakakos D, Ando T, Mao Y, Sarhan D, Wennerberg E, Seliger B, Lundqvist A, Mimura K, Kiessling R

J. Immunol. 188 (5) 2136-2145 [2012-03-01; online 2012-02-01]

Overexpression of the receptor tyrosine kinases HER2 and HER3 is associated with a poor prognosis in several types of cancer. Presently, HER2- as well as HER3-targeted therapies are in clinical practice or evaluated within clinical trials, including treatment with mAbs mediating growth inhibition and/or activation of Ab-induced innate or adaptive cellular immunity. A better understanding of how HER2/HER3 signaling in tumors influences cellular immune mechanisms is therefore warranted. In this study, we demonstrate that HER2/HER3 signaling regulates the expression of MHC class I-related chain A and B (MICA and MICB) in breast cancer cell lines. The MICA and MICB (MICA/B) molecules act as key ligands for the activating receptor NK group 2, member D (NKG2D) and promote NK cell-mediated recognition and cytolysis. Genetic silencing of HER3 but not HER2 downregulated the expression of MICA/B, and HER3 overexpression significantly enhanced MICA expression. Among the major pathways activated by HER2/HER3 signaling, the PI3K/AKT pathway was shown to predominantly regulate MICA/B expression. Treatment with the HER3-specific ligand neuregulin 1β promoted the expression in a process that was antagonized by pharmacological and genetic interference with HER3 but not by the ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) and ATM and Rad3-related protein kinases inhibitor caffeine. These observations further emphasize that HER2/HER3 signaling directly, and not via genotoxic stress, regulates MICA/B expression. As anticipated, stimulating HER2/HER3 enhanced the NKG2D-MICA/B-dependent NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Taken together, we conclude that signaling via the HER2/HER3 pathway in breast carcinoma cell lines may lead to enhanced NKG2D-MICA/B recognition by NK cells and T cells.

SciLifeLab Fellow

Yumeng Mao

PubMed 22301547

DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.1102237

Crossref 10.4049/jimmunol.1102237

pii: jimmunol.1102237

Publications 9.5.0