Mismatch repair deficiency predicts response to HER2 blockade in HER2-negative breast cancer

Nindo B. Punturi, Sinem Seker, Vaishnavi Devarakonda, Aloran Mazumder, Rashi Kalra, Ching Hui Chen, Shunqiang Li, Tina Primeau, Matthew J. Ellis, Shyam M. Kavuri, Svasti Haricharan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Resistance to endocrine treatment occurs in ~30% of ER+ breast cancer patients resulting in ~40,000 deaths/year in the USA. Preclinical studies strongly implicate activation of growth factor receptor, HER2 in endocrine treatment resistance. However, clinical trials of pan-HER inhibitors in ER+/HER2 patients have disappointed, likely due to a lack of predictive biomarkers. Here we demonstrate that loss of mismatch repair activates HER2 after endocrine treatment in ER+/HER2 breast cancer cells by protecting HER2 from protein trafficking. Additionally, HER2 activation is indispensable for endocrine treatment resistance in MutL- cells. Consequently, inhibiting HER2 restores sensitivity to endocrine treatment. Patient data from multiple clinical datasets supports an association between MutL loss, HER2 upregulation, and sensitivity to HER inhibitors in ER+/HER2 patients. These results provide strong rationale for MutL loss as a first-in-class predictive marker of sensitivity to combinatorial treatment with endocrine intervention and HER inhibitors in endocrine treatment-resistant ER+/HER2 breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2940
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


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