Growth-Regulatory Signaling Networks in Breast Cancer

  • Wagner, Kay-Uwe, (PI)

Project: Research project


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Our long-term objective is to elucidate how growth-regulatory signaling networks regulate normal growth and neoplastic transformation of mammary epithelial cells. Our studies focus on Janus kinases (JAKs) and signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs). JAKs and STATs are important intermediaries in "the lines of fire" of various growth factor receptors that are implicated in breast cancer. A primary objective of our current research is to examine how JAK/STAT signaling is altered in breast cancer models that initiate tumorigenesis through hyperstimulation of growth factor receptors (i.e. prolactin receptor and ErbB2) that utilize Jak2 and/or StatS and Stat3 as signal transducers. We developed a unique model system that enables us to genetically modify JAK/STAT signaling both prior to growth factor-mediated neoplastic transformation and during particular stages of the progressing disease. We hypothesize that inhibiting the growth factor- mediated activation of STATs through inactivation of Jak2 will reduce the onset of neoplastic transformation in these tumor models. This will suggest that targeting Jak2 is a relevant strategy for breast cancer prevention in individuals with hyperprolactinemia or patients that are at risk of developing pregnancy-associated breast cancers that are frequently ErbB2-positive. In contrast, the ablation of Jak2/Stat5/3 signaling in neoplastic cells (therapeutic intervention) might result in a different outcome depending on the type of growth factor- initiated transformation, and, more importantly, the stage of the progressing lesion. The specific aims of this proposal are to determine a hierarchy of diverse signaling transducers (aim 1) that serve as biomarkers for the analysis of prolactin and ErbB2 overexpressing cancer cells. Furthermore, the proposed studies will address mechanistic aspects about the autocrine role of prolactin in breast cancer (aim 2) as well as the suggested Jak2-mediated receptor crosstalk between the prolactin receptor and ErbB2 (aim 3). The results of these analyses might, discriminate subtypes of breast cancer, in which targeting Jak2 is therapeutically relevant. Furthermore, they might reveal whether a combinatorial therapy of pan-ErbB tyrosine kinase inhibitors and Jak2 inhibitors would be beneficial for the treatment of ErbB2-positive breast cancers.
Effective start/end date2/4/063/31/17


  • National Institutes of Health: $253,359.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $240,588.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $253,359.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $260,925.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $255,944.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $253,359.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $255,944.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $253,359.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $248,265.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $255,944.00


Breast Neoplasms
Janus Kinases
Growth Factor Receptors
Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
Prolactin Receptors
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
Epithelial Cells
Multiple Hamartoma Syndrome
Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
Transcriptional Activation


  • Medicine(all)