Nanolipoprotein-Mediated Her2 Protein Transfection Induces Malignant Transformation in Human Breast Acinar Cultures

Wei He, Angela C. Evans, William F. Hynes, Matthew A. Coleman, Claire Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Her2 overexpression is associated with an aggressive form of breast cancer and malignant transformation. We demonstrate in this work that nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs) synthesized in a cell-free manner can be used to transfer Her2 protein into the membrane of nonmalignant cells in 3D culture in a nontoxic and facile manner. With NLP-mediated Her2 protein delivery, we observed an increased probability of nonmalignant cells forming apolar nongrowth-arrested tumor-like structures. The NLP delivery system alone or Her2-NLPs plus the Her2 inhibitor trastuzumab showed no effect on the acinar organization rate, indicating that Her2 signaling is key to this process. Transcriptomics revealed essentially no effect of empty NLPs compared to untreated cells, whereas Her2-NLPs versus either untreated or empty-NLP-treated cells revealed upregulation of several factors associated with breast cancer. Pathway analysis also suggested that known nodes downstream of Her2 were activated in response to Her2-NLP treatment. This demonstrates that Her2 protein delivery with NLPs is sufficient for the malignant transformation of nonmalignant cells. Thus, this system offers a new model for studying cell surface receptor signaling without genomic modification or transformation techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29416-29423
Number of pages8
JournalACS Omega
Issue number44
StatePublished - Nov 9 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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