Hormone therapy with the selective estrogen-receptor modulator tamoxifen provides a temporary relief for patients with estrogen receptor α (ER)-positive breast cancers. However, a subset of patients exhibiting overexpression of the HER2 receptor tyrosine kinase displays intrinsic resistance to tamoxifen therapy. Therefore, elucidating the mechanisms promoting the estrogen (E2)-independent ER-regulated gene transcription in tamoxifen-resistant breast tumors is essential to identify new therapeutic avenues to overcome drug resistance and ameliorate poor prognosis. The non-receptor tyrosine kinase, ACK1 (also known as TNK2), has emerged as a major integrator of signaling from various receptor tyrosine kinases including HER2. We have uncovered that heregulin-mediated ACK1 activation promoted ER activity in the presence of tamoxifen, which was significantly down-regulated upon ACK1 knockdown or inhibition of ACK1 by small molecule inhibitors, AIM-100 or Dasatinib. We report that ACK1 phosphorylates the ER co-activator, KDM3A, a H3K9 demethylase, at an evolutionary conserved tyrosine 1114 site in a heregulin-dependent manner, even in the presence of tamoxifen. Consistent with this finding, ACK1 activation resulted in a significant decrease in the deposition of dimethyl H3K9 epigenetic marks. Conversely, inhibition of ACK1 by AIM-100 or Dasatinib restored dimethyl H3K9 methylation marks and caused transcriptional suppression of the ER-regulated gene HOXA1. Thus, by its ability to regulate the epigenetic activity of an ER co-activator KDM3A, ACK1 modulates HOXA1 expression in the absence of E2, conferring tamoxifen resistance. These data reveal a novel therapeutic option, suppression of ACK1 signaling by AIM-100 or Dasatinib, to mitigate HOXA1 up-regulation in breast cancer patients displaying tamoxifen resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28179-28191
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 10 2014


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