The current standard of care for endometrial cancer patients involves hysterectomy with adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy, with no effective treatment for advanced and metastatic disease. MUC1 is a large, heavily glycosylated transmembrane protein that lubricates and protects cell surfaces and increases cellular signaling through the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). We show for the first time that MUC1 stimulates EGFR expression and function in endometrial cancer. siRNA knockdown and CRISPR/Cas knockout of MUC1 reduced EGFR gene expression, mRNA, protein levels and signaling. MUC1 bound strongly to two regions of the EGFR promoter: -627/-511 and -172/-64. MUC1 knockout also reduced EGFR-dependent proliferation in two dimensional culture, as well as growth and survival in three dimensional spheroid cultures. MUC1 knockout cells were more sensitive to the EGFR inhibitor, lapatinib. Finally, MUC1 and EGFR co-expression was associated with increased cellular proliferation in human endometrial tumors. These data demonstrate the importance of MUC1-driven EGFR expression and signaling and suggest dual-targeted therapies may provide improved response for endometrial tumors.
Engel, B. J., Bowser, J. L., Broaddus, R. R., & Carson, D. D. (2016). MUC1 stimulates EGFR expression and function in endometrial cancer. Oncotarget, 7(22). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8743