1. Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB, Wales, U.K.
2. Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool, L69 3BX, England, U.K.
Breast Cancer Associated gene 2 (BCA2) is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that is over-expressed in >50% of primary breast cancers, and has been shown to increase in vitro cell proliferation and invasion. The protein has been linked to alterations in EGFR degradation; however there is some dispute as to its role and influence on the biology of this receptor. Our work aimed to ascertain the role of BCA2 in EGFR endocytosis and down-regulation and to examine its links with breast cancer outcome. Data generated with the online expression analysis tool KM-Plotter showed that high BCA2 levels are associated with poor prognosis in ovarian, gastric and breast cancer, particularly HER2 over-expressing breast cancers. Experimentally, we demonstrate that over-expression of BCA2 induced a reduction in total EGFR levels. BCA2 over-expressing cells stimulated with EGF exhibited reduced lysosomal degradation of both this ligand and its receptor. Signalling downstream of EGFR in BCA2 over-expressing cells was characterized by a lower magnitude but increased duration. Our findings support a role for BCA2 in receptor endocytosis. Consistent with this we show that BCA2 over-expression reduces the level of vesicle-associated Rab7, a regulator of late endocytosis and documented interaction partner of BCA2. Levels of transferrin receptor and the uptake of transferrin were unaltered by over-expression of BCA2 indicating that trafficking changes may be limited to late endocytic sorting events. This report offers a thorough exploration of BCA2 biology and suggests a context-dependent role for the protein in the endocytic regulation of EGFR and as a prognostic biomarker in cancer.