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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Jab1 is a target of EGFR signaling in ERα-negative breast cancer

Jiaxu Wang1, Rebecca O Barnes1, Nathan R West12, Melanie Olson1, Jenny E Chu12 and Peter H Watson134*

Author Affiliations

1 Deeley Research Center, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Island Center, 2410 Lee Avenue, Victoria, BC, V8R 6V5, Canada

2 University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2, Canada

3 Molecular Oncology and Breast Cancer Program, BC Cancer Agency, 600 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4E6, Canada

4 Department of Pathology, BC Cancer Agency, 600 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4E6, Canada

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Breast Cancer Research 2008, 10:R51  doi:10.1186/bcr2105

Published: 6 June 2008



c-Jun activation domain-binding protein-1 (Jab1) is a multifunctional signaling protein that previously has been shown to be a master regulator of a poor prognostic gene signature in invasive breast cancer and to mediate the action of S100A7. Since epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), like S100A7, is often expressed in estrogen receptor-alpha-negative (ERα-) breast cancer, we set out to investigate the role of Jab1 in mediating EGFR signaling, another facet of the ERα- phenotype.


MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 ERα-/EGFR+ cell lines were assessed for localization of Jab1 and levels of downstream genes by immunofluorescence and nuclear protein extract assay following treatment with epidermal growth factor (EGF) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway inhibitor. A cohort of 424 human breast tumors was also assessed by immunohistochemistry.


EGF treatment of cell lines resulted in increased Jab1 nuclear expression. This effect was inhibited by the ERK pathway inhibitor, PD98059. EGF treatment was also associated with colocalization of pERK (phosphorylated ERK) and Jab1 as well as regulation of the Jab1 downstream target gene, p27. When Jab1 activity was knocked down, p27 levels were restored to pre-EGF treatment level. Analysis of EGFR and Jab1 expression in a cohort of invasive breast tumors by tissue microarray and immunohistochemistry confirmed a relationship between EGFR and increased nuclear Jab1 within the ERα- subset (n = 154, P = 0.019). The same association was also confirmed for S100A7 and Jab1 (P = 0.036), and high Jab1 nuclear expression was most frequent in tumors that were positive for both EGFR and S100A7 (P = 0.004).


Jab1 is a target of EGFR signaling in ERα- cell lines and breast tumors and therefore may be a common central factor and potential therapeutic target for important cell signaling pathways in ERα- breast cancer.