ETV6-NTRK3-mediated breast epithelial cell transformation is blocked by targeting the IGF1R signaling pathway

Cristina E. Tognon, Aruna M. Somasiri, Valentina E. Evdokimova, Genny Trigo, Evett E. Uy, Nataliya Melnyk, Joan M. Carboni, Marco M. Gottardis, Calvin D. Roskelley, Michael Pollak, Poul H.B. Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) 1 receptor (IGF1R) is an important therapeutic target under study in many cancers. Here, we describe a breast cancer model based on expression of the ETV6-NTRK3 (EN) chimeric tyrosine kinase that suggests novel therapeutic applications of IGF1R inhibitors in secretory breast cancers. Originally discovered in congenital fibrosarcomas with t(12;15) translocations, EN was identified subsequently in secretory breast carcinoma (SBC) which represent a variant of invasive ductal carcinoma. Because fibroblast transformation by EN requires the IGF1R axis, we hypothesized a similar dependency may exist in mammary cells and, if so, that IGF1R inhibitors might be useful to block EN-driven breast oncogenesis. In this study, we analyzed EN expressing murine and human mammary epithelial cell lines for transformation properties. Various IGF1R signaling inhibitors, including the dual specificity IGF1R/insulin receptor (INSR) inhibitor BMS-536924, were then tested for effects on three-dimensional Matrigel cell growth, migration, and tumor formation. We found that EN expression increased acinar size and luminal filling in Matrigel cultures and promoted orthotopic tumor growth in mice. Tumors were well differentiated and nonmetastatic, similar to human SBC. The known EN effector pathway, PI3K-Akt, was activated in an IGF1- or insulin-dependent manner. BMS-536924 blocked EN transformation in vitro, whereas BMS-754807, another IGIFR/INSR kinase inhibitor currently in clinical trials, significantly reduced tumor growth in vivo. Importantly, EN model systems mimic the clinical phenotype observed in human SBC. Moreover, EN has a strict requirement for IGF1R or INSR in breast cell transformation. Thus, our findings strongly encourage the evaluation of IGF1R/INSR inhibitors to treat EN-driven breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1060-1070
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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