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The importance of targeting signalling mechanisms of the SLC39A family of zinc transporters to inhibit endocrine resistant breast cancer

Jones, Samuel, Farr, Georgia, Nimmanon, Thirayost, Ziliotto, Silvia, Gee, Julia M.W. ORCID: and Taylor, Kathryn M. ORCID: 2022. The importance of targeting signalling mechanisms of the SLC39A family of zinc transporters to inhibit endocrine resistant breast cancer. Exploration of Targeted Anti-tumor Therapy 3 , pp. 224-239. 10.37349/etat.2022.00080

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Aim: Zinc is a key secondary messenger that can regulate multiple signalling pathways within cancer cells, thus its levels need to be strictly controlled. The Zrt, Irt-like protein (ZIP, SLC39A) family of zinc transporters increase cytosolic zinc from either extracellular or intracellular stores. This study examines the relevance of zinc transporters ZIP7 and ZIP6 as therapeutic targets in tamoxifen resistant (TAMR) breast cancer. Methods: A series of in vitro assays, including immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, flow cytometry, and western blotting were used to evaluate levels and activity of ZIP7 and ZIP6 in models of TAMR and sensitive (MCF-7) breast cancer. Analyses of these transporters in the clinical setting were performed using publicly available online resources: Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis (GEPIA)2 and Kaplan-Meier Plotter (KmPlot). Results: Both total and activated levels of ZIP7 were significantly elevated in TAMR cells versus responsive MCF-7 cells. This was accompanied by an associated increase in free cytoplasmic zinc leading to amplification of downstream signals. Consistent with our proposed model, activated ZIP6 levels correlated with mitotic cells, which could be efficiently inhibited through use of our anti-ZIP6 monoclonal antibody. Mitotic inhibition translated to impaired proliferation in both models, with TAMR cells displaying increased sensitivity. Analysis of matched tumour and normal breast samples from patients revealed significant increases in both ZIP7 and ZIP6 in tumours, as well as family member ZIP4. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that high ZIP7 levels correlated with decreased overall and relapse-free survival (RFS) of patients, including patient groups who had received systemic endocrine therapy or tamoxifen only. In contrast, high ZIP6 levels were significantly linked to improved overall and RFS in all patients, as well as RFS in patients that received systemic endocrine therapy. Conclusions: TAMR cells displayed increased activity of both ZIP7 and ZIP6 transporters compared to anti-hormone responsive cells, suggesting their potential as novel therapeutic targets following development of resistant disease.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Pharmacy
Publisher: Open Exploration
ISSN: 2692-3114
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 11 February 2022
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2023 18:35

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