Targeting the actin cytoskeleton in HER2+ metastatic cancer cells using a macrolide toxin
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Breast and ovarian cancers are among the leading causes of cancer related deaths in women worldwide. In a subset of these cancers, dysregulation of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) leads to overexpression of the receptor on the cell surface. Previous studies have found that these HER2+ cancers show high rates of progression to metastatic disease. Metastasis is driven by cytoskeletal rearrangements that produce filamentous actin (F-actin) based structures that penetrate and degrade extracellular matrix to facilitate tumour invasion. Advancements in targeted therapy have made F-actin an attractive target for the development of new cancer therapies. In this thesis, we tested the actin-depolymerizing macrolide toxin, Mycalolide B (MycB), as a potential warhead for a novel antibody drug conjugate (ADC) to target highly metastatic HER2+ breast and ovarian cancers. We found that MycB treatment of HER2+ breast (SKBR3, MDA-MB-453) and ovarian (SKOV3) cancer cells led to loss of viability (IC50 values ≤ 64 nM). Sub-lethal doses of MycB treatment caused potent suppression of leading edge protrusions, migration and invasion potential of HER2+ cancer cells (IC50 ≤ 32 nM). In contrast, other F-actin based processes such as receptor endocytosis were less sensitive to MycB treatment. MycB treatment skewed the size of endocytic vesicles, which may reflect defects in F-actin based vesicle motility or maturation. Given that HER2+ cancers have been effectively targeted by Trastuzumab and Trastuzumab-based ADCs, we tested the effects of a combination of Trastuzumab and MycB on cell migration and invasion. We found that MycB/ Trastuzumab combination treatments inhibited motility of SKOV3 cells to a greater degree than either treatment alone. Altogether, our results provide proof-of-principle that actin toxins such as MycB can be used as a novel class of warheads for ADCs to target and combat highly metastatic cancers.