Product(s) used in this publication: Peptide ELISA
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is commonly over-expressed in metastatic breast cancer yet metastatic breast cancer is generally resistant to anti-EGFR therapies, and the mechanism for resistance to EGFR inhibitors in this setting is not fully understood. Hormonally up-regulated neu-associated kinase (HUNK) kinase is up-regulated in aggressive breast cancers and is thought to play a role in breast cancer metastasis. However, no studies have been conducted to examine a relationship between EGFR and HUNK in breast cancer metastasis. We performed a kinase substrate screen and identified that EGFR is phosphorylated by HUNK. Our studies show that HUNK phosphorylates EGFR at T654, enhancing receptor stability and downstream signaling. We found that increased phosphorylation of T654 EGFR correlates with increased epithelial to mesenchymal, migration and invasion, and metastasis. In addition, we found that HUNK expression correlates with overall survival and distant metastasis free survival. This study shows that HUNK directly phosphorylates EGFR at T654 to promote metastasis and is the first study to show that the phosphorylation of this site in EGFR regulates metastasis.