Open Access Open Badges Research article

Molecular signature of response and potential pathways related to resistance to the HSP90 inhibitor, 17AAG, in breast cancer

Magdalena Zajac1, Gonzalo Gomez2, Javier Benitez13 and Beatriz Martínez-Delgado13*

Author affiliations

1 Human Genetics Group, Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO), Madrid, Spain

2 Bioinformatics Unit. CNIO, Madrid, Spain

3 CIBERER, Centre for Biomedical Networking Research on Rare diseases, Madrid, Spain

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Genomics 2010, 3:44  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-3-44

Published: 4 October 2010



HSP90 may be a favorable target for investigational therapy in breast cancer. In fact, the HSP90 inhibitor, 17AAG, currently has entered in phase II clinical trials as an anticancer agent in breast and other tumors. Since HSP90 inhibition leads to global depletion of oncogenic proteins involved in multiple pathways we applied global analysis using gene array technology to study new genes and pathways involved in the drug response in breast cancer.


Gene expression profiling using Whole Human Genome Agilent array technology was applied to a total of six sensitive and two resistant breast cancer cell lines pre-treatment and treated with the 17AAG for 24 and 48 hours.


We have identified a common molecular signature of response to 17AAG composed of 35 genes which include novel pharmacodynamic markers of this drug. In addition, different patterns of HSP90 client transcriptional changes after 17AAG were identified associated to the sensitive cell lines, which could be useful to evaluate drug effectiveness. Finally, we have found differentially expressed pathways associated to resistance to 17AAG. We observed significant activation of NF-κB and MAPK pathways in resistant cells upon treatment, indicating that these pathways could be potentially targeted to overcome resistance.


Our study shows that global mRNA expression analysis is a useful strategy to examine molecular effects of drugs, which allowed us the discovery of new biomarkers of 17AAG activity and provided more insights into the complex mechanism of 17AAG resistance.