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Keywords:

  • farnesyl transferase inhibitor;
  • breast cancer dormancy;
  • RhoA GTPase;
  • RhoC GTPase

Abstract

Farnesyl transferase inhibitors (FTIs) were shown to be effective in modulating tumor growth in Ras-transformed tumor cells. Recent studies have focused on Rho GTPases as putative targets of FTI action. Previously, we demonstrated that FTIs were effective in inhibiting the growth and invasiveness of RhoC GTPase-overexpressing inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) cells however, RhoC activity was increased. In this study, we examine the mechanisms of FTI action on breast cancer cells in culture through modulation of RhoC and RhoA GTPases. We found that FTI inhibition of breast cancer cell growth was reversible and resembled what has been described for an in vitro model of tumor cell dormancy. On FTI treatment, levels of active RhoA decreased significantly, whereas levels of active RhoC increased 3.8-fold. We studied the role of these two GTPases in a fibronectin and basic FGF-induced model of breast cancer cell dormancy. Hypoactivation of RhoA and hyperactivation of RhoC were seen to induce morphology and growth changes consistent with tumor cell dormancy in culture. In addition, the JNK/SAPK pathway was induced on FTI treatment. A pharmacologic inhibitor of the JNK/SAPK pathway significantly reduced the number of dormant cells. This study has implications for the use of FTIs as therapeutic agents as well as potential mechanisms for breast cancer cell dormancy.