Insulin receptor substrates mediate distinct biological responses to insulin-like growth factor receptor activation in breast cancer cells

S. A. Byron, K. B. Horwitz, J. K. Richer, Carol A Lange, Xihong Zhang, Douglas Yee

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99 Scopus citations


Activation of the type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR) regulates several aspects of the malignant phenotype, including cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. Phosphorylation of adaptor proteins downstream of IGF-IR may couple IGF action to specific cancer phenotypes. In this study, we sought to determine if insulin receptor substrate-1 and -2 (IRS-1 and -2) mediate distinct biological effects in breast cancer cells. Insulin receptor substrate-1 and IRS-2 were expressed in T47D-YA breast cancer cells, which lack IRS-1 and -2 expression, yet retain functional IGF-IR. In the absence of IRS-1 and -2 expression, IGF-IR activation was unable to stimulate proliferation or motility in T47D-YA cells. Expression of IRS-1 resulted in IGF-I-stimulated proliferation, but did not affect motility. In contrast, expression of IRS-2 enhanced IGF-I-stimulated motility, but did not stimulate proliferation. The αIR-3, an inhibitor of the IGF-IR, was unable to affect these IGF-stimulated phenotypes unless IRS-1 or -2 was expressed. Thus, IGF-IR alone is unable to regulate important breast cancer cell phenotypes. In these cells, IRS proteins are required for and mediate distinct aspects of IGF-IR-stimulated behaviour. As multiple agents targeting the IGF-IR are currently in early clinical trials, IRS expression should be considered as a potential biomarker for IGF-IR responsiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1220-1228
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 6 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Adrian Lee for providing the IRS-1 and -2 expression constructs and Deepali Sachdev, Hua Zhang and Julie Ostrander for helpful comments and critical review of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Programme USAMRMC grant DAMD-BC-011205 (SAB), Public Health Service grant CA74285 (DY), and Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA77398.


  • Insulin receptor substrate
  • Insulin-like growth factor-I
  • Motility
  • Proliferation
  • Type I insulin-like growth factor receptor


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