Overexpression and mutational activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). EGFR tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are given as a primary therapy for advanced patients with EGFR-activating mutations; however, the majority of these tumors relapse and patients eventually develop resistance to TKIs. To address a potential role of protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes in the resistance to TKIs, we used the isogenic NSCLC H1650 cell line and its erlotinib-resistant derivative H1650-M3, a cell line that displays a mesenchymal-like morphology driven by transforming growth factor-β signaling. We found that H1650-M3 cells display remarkable PKCα upregulation and PKCδ downregulation. Notably, silencing PKCα from H1650-M3 cells using RNA interference caused a significant reduction in the expression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers vimentin, Zeb2, Snail, and Twist. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition or PKCα RNA interference depletion and PKCδ restoring sensitized H1650-M3 cells to erlotinib. Whereas ectopic overexpression of PKCα in parental H1650 cells was not sufficient to alter the expression of EMT genes or to confer resistance to erlotinib, it caused downregulation of PKCδ expression, suggesting a unidirectional crosstalk. Finally, mechanistic studies revealed that PKCα upregulation in H1650-M3 cells is driven by transforming growth factor-β. Our results identified important roles for specific PKC isozymes in erlotinib resistance and EMT in lung cancer cells, and highlight PKCα as a potential target for lung cancer treatment.
Abera, M. B., & Kazanietz, M. G. (2015). Protein Kinase C Mediates Erlotinib Resistance in Lung Cancer Cells. Molecular Pharmacology, 87(5), 832–841. https://doi.org/10.1124/mol.115.097725