Experimental Design: MDGI mRNA expression was investigated in clinical breast and lung cancer samples and in nontransformed and malignant cell lines. The effect of ectopic expression of MDGI on EGFR, ErbB2, and integrin function and traffic was investigated in breast and lung cancer cell lines using multiple methods. The effect of anti-EGFR agents on these cells were tested by cell proliferation measurements and by assessing tumor growth of breast cancer cells in cetuximab treated and control athymic nude mice.
Results: Here, we show that although MDGI is absent in cultured cell lines because of epigenetic silencing, MDGI mRNA is expressed in 40% of clinical breast carcinomas and 85% of lung cancers. Ectopic expression of MDGI rendered breast and lung cancer cells resistant to the anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab in vitro and in an orthotopic breast cancer xenograft model in vivo. When expressed in cancer cells, MDGI induces intracellular accumulation of EGFR, but not ErbB2, and the internalized receptor is phosphorylated and not degraded.
Conclusions: MDGI-driven inherent desensitization of cancer cells is a novel molecular mechanism for resistance to the anti-EGFR antibody therapy, and MDGI may be a biomarker for responsiveness to anti-EGFR antibody therapy.(Clin Cancer Res 2009;15(21):6570–81)