Transforming Potential of Alternatively Spliced Variants of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 2 in Human Mammary Epithelial Cells
Allison B. Moffa, Stacey L. Tannheimer, Stephen P. Ethier
Molecular Cancer Research
A breast cancer cell line developed in our laboratory (SUM-52PE) has a 12-fold amplification and high-level overexpression of the oncogene fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2). Previously, nine different alternatively spliced FGFR2 variants were isolated from this cell line. Overexpression of two variants that differ only in their carboxyl termini (C1 and C3) has been successfully accomplished in the immortalized human mammary epithelial cell line H16N2. FGFR2 expression led to the
... tion of the mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling cascades. Phosphorylation of the adapter protein FGF receptor substrate 2 is much more robust in the cells expressing the C3 variant of FGFR2 compared with the C1 variant. H16N2 cells expressing the full-length FGFR2 with the C1 or C3 carboxyl terminus were tested for their ability to grow under epidermal growth factor (EGF)–independent conditions, in soft agar, and for their ability to invade naturally occurring basement membranes and compared with the parental SUM-52PE cell line. All three cell lines grew under EGF-independent conditions and all were inhibited by the FGFR family specific inhibitor PD173074. The full-length FGFR2-C1 and FGFR2-C3 variants grew robustly in soft agar similar to the parental cell line SUM-52PE. However, cells expressing the C3 variant formed large colonies in agar in both insulin-free and EGF-free medium, whereas the cells expressing the C1 variant required insulin for growth. Soft agar growth was also inhibited by PD173074. Because SUM-52PE was developed from a metastatic breast carcinoma, the FGFR2-overexpressing cell lines were assessed for their ability to invade sea urchin embryo cell membranes. H16N2 cells expressing the C1 carboxyl terminus failed to invade sea urchin embryo cell membranes. By contrast, FGFR2-C3-expressing cells were as invasive as the SUM-52 breast cancer cells and erbB-2-overexpressing H16N2 cells. These results indicate that FGFR2 is a transforming oncogene in human mammary epithelial cells when expressed to levels similar to that found in breast cancer cells with FGFR2 gene amplification. Furthermore, the results suggest that different splice variants have differing transforming activities and that signaling from variants expressing the C3 carboxyl terminus results in more autonomous signaling, cell growth, and invasion.