Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 126, Issue 1, pp 27–36 | Cite as

The ErbB3 binding protein EBP1 regulates ErbB2 protein levels and tamoxifen sensitivity in breast cancer cells

  • Yan Lu
  • Hua Zhou
  • Wantao Chen
  • Yuexing Zhang
  • Anne W. Hamburger
Preclinical study


The ErbB2/3 heterodimer plays a critical role in breast cancer progression and in the development of endocrine resistance. EBP1, an ErbB3 binding protein, inhibits HRG-stimulated breast cancer growth, decreases ErbB2 protein levels and contributes to tamoxifen sensitivity. We report here that ectopic expression of EBP1 in Estrogen Receptor (ER) positive breast cancers that express ErbB2 at both high and low levels decreased ErbB2 protein levels. ErbB2 protein expression was also increased in mammary glands of Ebp1 knock out mice. To define the mechanism of ErbB2 down regulation, we examined the effects of EBP1 on ErbB2 mRNA levels, transcription of the ErbB2 gene and ErbB2 protein stability. We found that ectopic expression of EBP1 decreased steady state levels of endogenous ErbB2 mRNA in all cell lines tested. EBP1 overexpression decreased the activity of an ErbB2 promoter reporter in cells which overxpress ErbB2. However, reporter activity was unchanged or increased in cells which express low endogenous levels of ErbB2. We also found that ectopic expression of EBP1 accelerated ErbB2 protein degradation and enhanced ErbB2 ubiquitination in cells which express both low and high levels of ErbB2. Treatment with proteasome inhibitors prevented this decrease in ErbB2 protein levels. Ablation of EBP1 expression led to tamoxifen resistance that was abrogated by inhibition of ErbB2 activity. These results suggest that EBP1 inhibits expression of ErbB2 protein levels by multiple mechanisms and that EBP1’s effects on tamoxifen sensitivity are mediated in part by its ability to modulate ErbB2 levels.


EBP1 ErbB2 Tamoxifen Breast cancer 



This study was supported by NIH grants R01 CA76047, RC1 CA145066-01 and DOD W81XWH-08-1-0560 (to AWH), and by the Project of the Shanghai Science and Technology Committee (08JC1414400, 08JC1404800) and the Shanghai Leading Academic Discipline Project (S30206). We thank Dr. Kay Huebner, Ohio State University Cancer Center, and Dr. Helen Hurst for the ErbB2 promoter plasmid and Dr. Yossi Yarden for the ErbB2 expression construct.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hua Zhou
    • 1
    • 3
  • Wantao Chen
    • 2
  • Yuexing Zhang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Anne W. Hamburger
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Greenebaum Cancer CenterUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Oral and Maxillofacial SurgeryShanghai Jiaotong University School of MedicineShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Department of PathologyUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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