Coordinated activation of c-Src and FOXM1 drives tumor cell proliferation and breast cancer progression

Ipshita Nandi, Harvey W. Smith, Virginie Sanguin-Gendrea, Linjia Ji, Alain Pacis, Vasilios Papavasiliou, Dongmei Zuo, Stella Nam, Sherif S. Attalla, Sung Hoon Kim, Sierra Lusson, Hellen Kuasne, Anne Marie Fortier, Paul Savage, Constanza Martinez Ramirez, Morag Park, John A. Katzenellenbogen, Benita S. Katzenellenbogen, William J. Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activation of the tyrosine kinase c-Src promotes breast cancer progression and poor outcomes, yet the underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Here, we have shown that deletion of c-Src in a genetically engineered model mimicking the luminal B molecular subtype of breast cancer abrogated the activity of forkhead box M1 (FOXM1), a master transcriptional regulator of the cell cycle. We determined that c-Src phosphorylated FOXM1 on 2 tyrosine residues to stimulate its nuclear localization and target gene expression. These included key regulators of G2/M cell-cycle progression as well as c-Src itself, forming a positive feedback loop that drove proliferation in genetically engineered and patient-derived models of luminal B-like breast cancer. Using genetic approaches and small molecules that destabilize the FOXM1 protein, we found that targeting this mechanism induced G2/M cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis, blocked tumor progression, and impaired metastasis. We identified a positive correlation between FOXM1 and c-Src expression in human breast cancer and show that the expression of FOXM1 target genes predicts poor outcomes and associates with the luminal B subtype, which responds poorly to currently approved therapies. These findings revealed a regulatory network centered on c-Src and FOXM1 that is a targetable vulnerability in aggressive luminal breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere162324
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 3 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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