Phosphatase PTP4A3 promotes triple-negative breast cancer growth and predicts poor patient survival

Petra Den Hollander, Kathryn Rawls, Anna Tsimelzon, Jonathan Shepherd, Abhijit Mazumdar, Jamal Hill, Suzanne A.W. Fuqua, Jenny C. Chang, C. Kent Osborne, Susan G. Hilsenbeck, Gordon B. Mills, Powel H. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has the worst prognosis of all breast cancers, and women diagnosed with TNBC currently lack targeted treatment options. To identify novel targets for TNBC, we evaluated phosphatase expression in breast tumors and characterized their contributions to in vitro and in vivo growth of TNBC. Using Affymetrix microarray analysis of 102 breast cancers, we identified 146 phosphatases that were significantly differentially expressed in TNBC compared with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors. Of these, 19 phosphatases were upregulated (0.66-fold; FDR = 0.05) in TNBC compared with ERpositive breast cancers. We knocked down 17 overexpressed phosphatases in four triple-negative and four ER-positive breast cancer lines using specific siRNAs and found that depletion of six of these phosphatases significantly reduced growth and anchorageindependent growth of TNBC cells to a greater extent than ERpositive cell lines. Further analysis of the phosphatase PTP4A3 (also known as PRL-3) demonstrated its requirement for G1-S cell-cycle progression in all breast cancer cells, but PTP4A3 regulated apoptosis selectively in TNBC cells. In addition, PTP4A3 inhibition reduced the growth of TNBC tumors in vivo. Moreover, in silico analysis revealed the PTP4A3 gene to be amplified in 29% of basal-like breast cancers, and high expression of PTP4A3 could serve as an independent prognostic indicator for worse overall survival. Collectively, these studies define the importance of phosphatase overexpression in TNBC and lay the foundation for the development of new targeted therapies directed against phosphatases or their respective signaling pathways for TNBC patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1942-1953
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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