Loss of the tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) and amplification or elevated expression of ErbB-2 are both involved in human breast cancer. To directly test the importance of these genetic events in mammary tumorigenesis, we have assessed whether mammary-specific disruption of PTEN could cooperate with activation of ErbB-2. Transgenic mice expressing ErbB-2 under the transcriptional control of its endogenous promoter (ErbB-2KI) were interbred with mice carrying conditional PTEN alleles and an MMTV/Cre transgene. Loss of one or both PTEN alleles resulted in a dramatic acceleration of mammary tumor onset and an increased occurrence of lung metastases in the ErbB-2KI strain. Tumor progression in PTEN-deficient/ErbB-2KI strains was associated with elevated ErbB-2 protein levels, which were not due to ErbB-2 amplification or to a dramatic increase in ErbB-2 transcripts. Moreover, the PTEN-deficient/ErbB- 2KI-derived mouse mammary tumors display striking morphologic heterogeneity in comparison with the homogeneous pathology of the ErbB-2 KI parental strain. Therefore, inactivation of PTEN would not only have a dramatic effect on ErbB-2-induced mammary tumorigenesis but would also lead to the formation of mammary tumors that, in part, display pathologic and molecular features associated with the basal-like subtype of primary human breast cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research