The adapter molecule Shc has been implicated in specific steps of metastasis. In the current study, we show that the expression and activation of the p66 Shc isoform increased in a highly metastatic variant (F-11) of the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 compared to the parent cell line, whereas the p46 and p52 Shc isoforms were unchanged. Despite reports that p66 Shc can negatively regulate epidermal growth factor signaling to the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, we found no change in epidermal growth factor-stimulated activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase in the F-11 cell line.

We determined the level of Shc expression by immunoblot in primary breast cancer specimens obtained from patients with or without axillary node involvement. p66 Shc expression increased in tumors obtained from node-positive patients (Spearman correlation coefficient = 0.43377; P = 0.0058) compared to the node-negative specimens. Furthermore, increasing levels of p66 Shc correlated with an increasing number of positive nodes (P = 0.032).

This study shows that p66 Shc expression increased in cultured breast cancer cells selected for metastasis and in primary human breast cancer specimens obtained from patients with lymph node involvement, suggesting a possible role for Shc in human breast cancer metastasis.