Functional genomic characterization of a synthetic anti-HER3 antibody reveals a role for ubiquitination by RNF41 in the anti-proliferative response [Molecular Bases of Disease] (Journal of Biological Chemistry)
Dysregulation of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases is involved in the progression of many cancers. Antibodies targeting the dimerization domains of family members EGFR and HER2 are approved cancer therapeutics, but efficacy is restricted to a subset of tumors and resistance often develops in response to treatment. A third family member, HER3, heterodimerizes with both EGFR and HER2 and has also been implicated in cancer. Consequently, there is strong interest in developing antibodies that target HER3, but to date, no therapeutics have been approved. To aid the development of anti-HER3 antibodies as cancer therapeutics, we combined antibody engineering and functional genomics screens to identify putative mechanisms of resistance or synthetic lethality with antibody-mediated anti-proliferative effects. We developed a synthetic antibody called IgG 95, which binds to HER3 and promotes ubiquitination, internalization, and receptor down-regulation. Using an shRNA library targeting enzymes in the ubiquitin proteasome system, we screened for genes that effect response to IgG 95 and uncovered the E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF41 as a driver of IgG 95 anti-proliferative activity. RNF41 has been shown previously to regulate HER3 levels under normal conditions and we now show that it is also responsible for down-regulation of HER3 upon treatment with IgG 95. Moreover, our findings suggest that down-regulation of RNF41 itself may be a mechanism for acquired resistance to treatment with IgG 95 and perhaps other anti-HER3 antibodies. Our work deepens our understanding of HER3 signaling by uncovering the mechanistic basis for the anti-proliferative effects of potential anti-HER3 antibody therapeutics.