We describe here the existence of a heregulin-HER3 autocrine loop, and the contribution of heregulin-dependent, HER2-mediated HER3 activation to gefitinib insensitivity in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). ADAM17 protein, a major ErbB ligand sheddase, is upregulated in NSCLC and is required not only for heregulin-dependent HER3 signaling, but also for EGFR ligand-dependent signaling in NSCLC cell lines. A selective ADAM inhibitor, INCB3619, prevents the processing and activation of multiple ErbB ligands, including heregulin. In addition, INCB3619 inhibits gefitinib-resistant HER3 signaling and enhances gefitinib inhibition of EGFR signaling in NSCLC. These results show that ADAM inhibition affects multiple ErbB pathways in NSCLC and thus offers an excellent opportunity for pharmacological intervention, either alone or in combination with other drugs.
Cancer cells derived from different stages of tumor progression may exhibit distinct biological properties, as exemplified by the paired lung cancer cell lines H1993 and H2073. While H1993 was derived from chemo-naive metastasized tumor, H2073 originated from the chemo-resistant primary tumor from the same patient and exhibits strikingly different drug response profile. To understand the underlying genetic and epigenetic bases for their biological properties, we investigated these cells using a wide range of large-scale methods including whole genome sequencing, RNA sequencing, SNP array, DNA methylation array, and de novo genome assembly. We conducted an integrative analysis of both cell lines to distinguish between potential driver and passenger alterations. Although many genes are mutated in these cell lines, the combination of DNA- and RNA-based variant information strongly implicates a small number of genes including TP53 and STK11 as likely drivers. Likewise, we found a diverse set of genes differentially expressed between these cell lines, but only a fraction can be attributed to changes in DNA copy number or methylation. This set included the ABC transporter ABCC4, implicated in drug resistance, and the metastasis associated MET oncogene. While the rich data content allowed us to reduce the space of hypotheses that could explain most of the observed biological properties, we also caution there is a lack of statistical power and inherent limitations in such single patient case studies.
To report the clinical efficacy of sorafenib and to evaluate biomarkers associated with sorafenib clinical benefit in the BATTLE program.
Patients and Methods
Patients with previously treated non-small–cell lung cancer (NSCLC) received sorafenib until progression or unacceptable toxicity. Eight-week disease control rate (DCR), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were assessed. Prespecified biomarkers included K-RAS, EGFR, and B-RAF mutations, and EGFR gene copy number. Gene expression profiles from NSCLC cell lines and patient tumor biopsies with wild-type EGFR were used to develop a sorafenib sensitivity signature (SSS).
105 patients were eligible and randomized to receive sorafenib. Among 98 patients evaluable for 8-week DCR, the observed DCR was 58.2%. The median PFS and OS were 2.83 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.04-3.58) and 8.48 months (95% CI, 5.78-10.97), respectively. Eight-week DCR was higher in patients with wt-EGFR than patients with EGFR mutation (P=0.012), and in patients with EGFR gene copy number gain (FISH positive) versus patients FISH negative (P=0.048). In wt-EGFR tumors, the SSS was associated with improved PFS (median PFS 3.61 months in high SSS versus 1.84 months in low SSS, P=0.026) but not with 8-week DCR. Increased expression of fibroblast growth factor-1, NF-kB and hypoxia pathways were identified potential drivers of sorafenib resistance.
Sorafenib demonstrates clinical activity in NSCLC, especially with wt-EGFR. SSS was associated with improved PFS. These data identify subgroups that may derive clinical benefit from sorafenib and merit investigation in future trials. ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00411671.
multikinase inhibitor; non–small cell lung cancer; sorafenib; biomarkers; targeted treatment
Context-specific molecular vulnerabilities that arise during tumor evolution represent an attractive intervention target class. However, the frequency and diversity of somatic lesions detected among lung tumors can confound efforts to identify these targets. To confront this challenge, we have applied parallel screening of chemical and genetic perturbations within a panel of molecularly annotated NSCLC lines to identify intervention opportunities tightly linked to molecular response indicators predictive of target sensitivity. Anchoring this analysis on a matched tumor/normal cell model from a lung adenocarcinoma patient identified three distinct target/response-indicator pairings that are represented with significant frequencies (6–16%) in the patient population. These include NLRP3 mutation/inflammasome activation-dependent FLIP addiction, co-occuring KRAS and LKB1 mutation-driven COPI addiction, and selective sensitivity to a synthetic indolotriazine that is specified by a 7-gene expression signature. Target efficacies were validated in vivo, and mechanism of action studies uncovered new cancer cell biology.
Cell surface growth factor receptors couple environmental cues to the regulation of cytoplasmic homeostatic process including autophagy, and aberrant activation of such receptors is a common feature of human malignancies. Here, we defined the molecular basis by which the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase regulates autophagy. Active EGFR binds to the autophagy protein Beclin 1, leading to its multisite tyrosine phosphorylation, enhanced binding to inhibitors, and decreased Beclin 1-associated Class III phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase activity. EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy disrupts Beclin 1 tyrosine phosphorylation and binding to its inhibitors, and restores autophagy in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cells with a TKI-sensitive EGFR mutation. In NSCLC tumor xenografts, the expression of a tyrosine phosphomimetic Beclin 1 mutant leads to reduced autophagy, enhanced tumor growth, tumor dedifferentiation, and resistance to TKI therapy. Thus, oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases directly regulate the core autophagy machinery, which may contribute to tumor progression and chemoresistance.
In lung cancer, platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα) is expressed frequently by tumor-associated stromal cells and by cancer cells in a subset of tumors. We sought to determine the effect of targeting stromal PDGFRα in preclinical lung tumor xenograft models (human tumor, mouse stroma). Effects of anti-human (IMC-3G3) and anti-mouse (1E10) PDGFRα mAbs on proliferation and PDGFRα signaling were evaluated in lung cancer cell lines and mouse fibroblasts. Therapy studies were performed using established PDGFRα-positive H1703 cells and PDGFRα-negative Calu-6, H1993, and A549 subcutaneous tumors in immunocompromised mice treated with vehicle, anti-PDGFRα mAbs, chemotherapy, or combination therapy. Tumors were analyzed for growth and levels of growth factors. IMC-3G3 inhibited PDGFRα activation and the growth of H1703 cells in vitro and tumor growth in vivo, but had no effect on PDGFRα-negative cell lines or mouse fibroblasts. 1E10 inhibited growth and PDGFRα activation of mouse fibroblasts, but had no effect on human cancer cell lines in vitro. In vivo, 1E10-targeted inhibition of murine PDGFRα reduced tumor growth as single-agent therapy in Calu-6 cells and enhanced the effect of chemotherapy in xenografts derived from A549 cells. We also identified that low expression cancer cell expression of VEGF-A and elevated expression of PDGF-AA were associated with response to stromal PDGFRα targeting. We conclude that stromal PDGFRα inhibition represents a means for enhancing control of lung cancer growth in some cases, independent of tumor cell PDGFRα expression.
Platelet-derived growth factor receptor; mouse model; lung cancer; stroma; microenvironment; fibroblast; xenograft
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive malignancy distinct from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in its metastatic potential and treatment response. Using an integrative proteomic and transcriptomic analysis, we investigated molecular differences contributing to the distinct clinical behavior of SCLC and NSCLC. SCLC demonstrated lower levels of several receptor tyrosine kinases and decreased activation of PI3K and Ras/MEK pathways, but significantly increased levels of E2F1-regulated factors including EZH2, thymidylate synthase, apoptosis mediators, and DNA repair proteins. Additionally, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1), a DNA repair protein and E2F1 co-activator, was highly expressed at the mRNA and protein levels in SCLC. SCLC growth was inhibited by PARP1 and EZH2 knockdown. Furthermore, SCLC was significantly more sensitive to PARP inhibitors than NSCLC, and PARP inhibition downregulated key components of the DNA repair machinery and enhanced the efficacy of chemotherapy.
Ionizing radiation composed of accelerated ions of high atomic number (Z) and energy (HZE) deposits energy and creates damage in cells in a discrete manner as compared to the random deposition of energy and damage seen with low energy radiations such as γ- or x-rays. Such radiations can be highly effective at cell killing, transformation, and oncogenesis, all of which are concerns for the manned space program and for the burgeoning field of HZE particle radiotherapy for cancer. Furthermore, there are differences in the extent to which cells or tissues respond to such exposures that may be unrelated to absorbed dose. Therefore, we asked whether the energy deposition patterns produced by different radiation types would cause different molecular responses. We performed transcriptome profiling using human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) after exposure to γ-rays and to two different HZE particles (28Si and 56Fe) with different energy transfer properties to characterize the molecular response to HZE particles and γ-rays as a function of dose, energy deposition pattern, and time post-irradiation.
Clonogenic assay indicated that the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) for 56Fe was 3.91 and for 28Si was 1.38 at 34% cell survival. Unsupervised clustering analysis of gene expression segregated samples according to the radiation species followed by the time after irradiation, whereas dose was not a significant parameter for segregation of radiation response. While a subset of genes associated with p53-signaling, such as CDKN1A, TRIM22 and BTG2 showed very similar responses to all radiation qualities, distinct expression changes were associated with the different radiation species. Gene enrichment analysis categorized the differentially expressed genes into functional groups related to cell death and cell cycle regulation for all radiation types, while gene pathway analysis revealed that the pro-inflammatory Acute Phase Response Signaling was specifically induced after HZE particle irradiation. A 73 gene signature capable of predicting with 96% accuracy the radiation species to which cells were exposed, was developed.
These data suggest that the molecular response to the radiation species used here is a function of the energy deposition characteristics of the radiation species. This novel molecular response to HZE particles may have implications for radiotherapy including particle selection for therapy and risk for second cancers, risk for cancers from diagnostic radiation exposures, as well as NASA’s efforts to develop more accurate lung cancer risk estimates for astronaut safety. Lastly, irrespective of the source of radiation, the gene expression changes observed set the stage for functional studies of initiation or progression of radiation-induced lung carcinogenesis.
Gene expression; HZE particles; Ionizing radiation; Human bronchial epithelial cells
Inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) are key regulators of apoptosis and are inhibited by the second mitocondrial activator of caspases (SMAC). Previously, a small subset of TNFα-expressing non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) was found to be sensitive to SMAC mimetics alone. In this study we determined if a SMAC mimetic (JP1201) could sensitize non-responsive NSCLC cell lines to standard chemotherapy. We found that JP1201 sensitized NSCLCs to doxorubicin, erlotinib, gemcitabine, paclitaxel, vinorelbine, and the combination of carboplatin with paclitaxel in a synergistic manner at clinically achievable drug concentrations. Sensitization did not occur with platinum alone. Furthermore, sensitization was specific for tumor compared to normal lung epithelial cells, increased in NSCLCs harvested after chemotherapy treatment, and did not induce TNFα secretion. Sensitization also was enhanced in vivo with increased tumor inhibition and increased survival of mice carrying xenografts. These effects were accompanied by caspase 3, 4, and 9 activation, indicating that both mitochondrial and ER stress-induced apoptotic pathways are activated by the combination of vinorelbine and JP1201. Chemotherapies that induce cell death through the mitochondrial pathway required only inhibition of XIAP for sensitization, while chemotherapies that induce cell death through multiple apoptotic pathways required inhibition of cIAP1, cIAP2, and XIAP. Therefore, the data suggest that IAP-targeted therapy using a SMAC mimetic provides a new therapeutic strategy for synergistic sensitization of NSCLCs to standard chemotherapy agents, which appears to occur independently of TNFα secretion.
non-small cell lung cancer; smac mimetic; vinorelbine; gemcitabine; IAPs
A small-molecule mimetic of Smac/Diablo that specifically counters the apoptosis-inhibiting activity of IAP proteins has been shown to enhance apoptosis induced by cell surface death receptors as well as chemotherapeutic drugs. Survey of a panel of 50 human non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines has revealed, surprisingly, that roughly one-quarter of these lines are sensitive to the treatment of Smac mimetic alone, suggesting that an apoptotic signal has been turned on in these cells and is held in check by IAP proteins. This signal has now been identified as the autocrine-secreted cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα). In response to autocrine TNFα signaling, the Smac mimetic promotes formation of a RIPK1-dependent caspase-8-activating complex, leading to apoptosis.
AZD6244 is a small molecule inhibitor of the MEK kinase pathway currently in clinical trials. However, the mechanisms mediating intrinsic resistance to MEK inhibition are not fully characterized. To define molecular mechanisms of MEK inhibitor resistance, we analyzed responses of 38 lung cancer cell lines following AZD6244 treatment and their genome-wide gene expression profiles and identified a panel of genes correlated with sensitivity or resistance to AZD6244 treatment. In particular, Ingenuity pathway analysis revealed that activation of the STAT3 pathway was associated with MEK inhibitor resistance. Inhibition of this pathway by JSI-124, a STAT3-specific small molecule inhibitor, or with STAT3-specific siRNA sensitized lung cancer cells to AZD6244 and induced apoptosis. Moreover, combining a STAT3 inhibitor with AZD6244 induced expression of BIM and polyADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage, whereas activation of the STAT3 pathway inhibited BIM expression and elicited resistance to MEK inhibitors. We found that the STAT3-regulated microRNA miR-17 played a critical role in MEK inhibitor resistance, such that miR-17 inhibition sensitized resistant cells to AZD6244 by inducing BIM and PARP cleavage. Together, these results indicated that STAT3-mediated overexpression of miR-17 blocked BIM expression and caused resistance to AZD6244. Our findings suggest novel approaches to overcome resistance to MEK inhibitors by combining AZD6244 with STAT3 or miR-17 inhibitors.
Gene expression profiling; MEK inhibitor resistance; AZD6244; STAT3 pathway; miR-17
Oncogenic KRAS is found in >25% of lung adenocarcinomas, the major histologic subtype of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and is an important target for drug development. To this end, we generated four NSCLC lines with stable knockdown selective for oncogenic KRAS. As expected, stable knockdown of oncogenic KRAS led to inhibition of in vitro and in vivo tumor growth in the KRAS mutant NSCLC cells, but not in NSCLC cells that have wild-type KRAS (but mutant NRAS). Surprisingly, we did not see large-scale induction of cell death and the growth inhibitory effect was not complete. To further understand the ability of NSCLCs to grow despite selective removal of mutant KRAS expression, we performed microarray expression profiling of NSCLC cell lines with or without mutant KRAS knockdown and isogenic human bronchial epithelial cell lines (HBECs) with and without oncogenic KRAS. We found that while the MAPK pathway is significantly down-regulated after mutant KRAS knockdown, these NSCLCs showed increased levels of phospho-STAT3 and phospho-EGFR, and variable changes in phospho-Akt. In addition, mutant KRAS knockdown sensitized the NSCLCs to p38 and EGFR inhibitors. Our findings suggest that targeting oncogenic KRAS by itself will not be sufficient treatment but may offer possibilities of combining anti-KRAS strategies with other targeted drugs.
Steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC-3) is a histone acetyltransferase and nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) co activator, located on 20q12, which is amplified in several epithelial cancers and well studied in breast cancer. However, its possible role in lung cancer pathogenesis is unknown. We found SRC-3 over-expressed in 27% of NSCLC patients (N=311) by immunohistochemistry, which correlated with poor disease-free (p=0.0015) and overall (p=0.0008) survival. Twenty-seven percent of NSCLCs exhibited SRC-3 gene amplification, and we found lung cancer cell lines expressed higher levels of SRC-3 than immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs), which in turn expressed higher level of SRC-3 than cultured primary human HBECs. siRNA-mediated down-regulation of SRC-3 in high-expressing (but not low expressing) lung cancer cells significantly inhibited tumor cell growth and induced apoptosis. Finally, we found that SRC-3 expression is inversely correlated with gefitinib sensitivity and that SRC-3 knockdown results in EGFR-TKI-resistant lung cancers becoming more sensitive to gefitinib. Together these data suggest that SRC-3 may be an important oncogene and therapeutic target for lung cancer.
Mutations in the gene encoding for pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI) can contribute to chronic pancreatitis. In the current study, we tested whether over-expression of pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor-I in mice protects against chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic fibrosis.
Rat PSTI-I expression was targeted to pancreatic acinar cells in transgenic mice. Chronic pancreatitis was achieved by intraperitoneal injection of caerulein for 10 weeks. Pancreatitis severity was assessed by histological grading of inflammatory infiltrate, atrophy, and fibrosis; quantitation of myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity; quantitative morphometric analysis of collagen content; and measurements of type I collagen, fibronectin, and TGFβ mRNA expression.
Caerulein administration to nontransgenic mice produced histological evidence of inflammatory infiltrate, glandular atrophy, and parenchymal fibrosis, and increased collagen production, MPO activity, and collagen I and fibronectin mRNA levels. In caerulein-treated PSTI transgenic mice, there were significant reductions in inflammatory infiltrate, MPO activity, fibrosis, and collagen I and fibronectin mRNA levels. Transgenic mice treated with caerulein had significantly less collagen than nontransgenic mice.
The severity of chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic fibrosis is significantly reduced in mice expressing rat pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor-I. We propose that pancreatic trypsin inhibitors play a protective role in the pancreatic response to repeated injurious events.
pancreas; caerulein; trypsin; collagen; serine protease inhibitor; Kazal type (SPINK)
AZD6244 and MK2206 are targeted small-molecule drugs that inhibit MEK and AKT respectively. The efficacy of this combination in lung cancer is unknown. Our previous work showed the importance of activated AKT in mediating resistance of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to AZD6244. Thus we hypothesized that dual inhibition of both downstream MEK and AKT pathways would induce synergistic antitumor activity. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of AZD6244 and MK2206 individually on a large panel of lung cancer cell lines. Then, we treated 28 human lung cancer cell lines with a combination of AZD6244 and MK2206 at clinically applicable drug molar ratios. The AZD6244-MK2206 combination therapy resulted in a synergistic effect on inhibition of lung cancer cell growth compared to the results of single drug treatment alone. MK2206 enhanced AZD6244-induced Bim overexpression and apoptosis in A549 and H157 cells. When we tested the combination of AZD6244 and MK2206 at ratios of 8∶1, 4∶1, 2∶1, and 1∶8, we found that the synergistic effect of the combination therapy was ratio-dependent. At ratios of 8∶1, 4∶1, and 2∶1, the drug combination consistently demonstrated synergy, whereas decreasing the ratio to 1∶8 resulted in a loss of synergy and produced an additive or antagonistic effect in most cell lines. Furthermore, the AZD6244-MK2206 combination therapy showed synergy in the suppression of A549 and H157 xenograft tumor growth and increased mean animal survival time. The AZD6244-MK2206 combination therapy resulted in effective inhibition of both p-ERK and p-AKT expression in tumor tissue. In addition, a significant increase of apoptosis was detected in tumor tissue from mice treated with AZD6244-MK2206 compared with that from the single agent treated mice. Our study suggests that the combination of AZD6244 and MK2206 has a significant synergistic effect on tumor growth in vitro and in vivo and leads to increased survival rates in mice bearing highly aggressive human lung tumors.
Polymeric micelles are emerging as a highly integrated nanoplatform for cancer targeting, drug delivery and tumor imaging applications. In this study, we describe a multifunctional micelle (MFM) system that is encoded with a lung cancer-targeting peptide (LCP), and encapsulated with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) and doxorubicin (Doxo) for MR imaging and therapeutic delivery, respectively. The LCP-encoded MFM showed significantly increased αvβ6-dependent cell targeting in H2009 lung cancer cells over a scrambled peptide (SP)-encoded MFM control as well as in an αvβ6-negative H460 cell control. 3H-Labeled MFM nanoparticles were used to quantify the time- and dose-dependent cell uptake of MFM nanoparticles with different peptide encoding (LCP vs SP) and surface densities (20% and 40%) in H2009 cells. LCP functionalization of the micelle surface increased uptake of the MFM by more than 3-fold compared to the SP control. These results were confirmed by confocal laser scanning microscopy, which further demonstrated the successful Doxo release from MFM and accumulation in the nucleus. SPIO clustering inside the micelle core resulted in high T2 relaxivity (>400 Fe mM−1 s−1) of the resulting MFM nanoparticles. T2-weighted MRI images showed clear contrast differences between H2009 cells incubated with LCP-encoded MFM over the SP-encoded MFM control. An ATP activity assay showed increased cytotoxicity of LCP-encoded MFM over SP-encoded MFM in H2009 cells (IC50 values were 28.3 ± 6.4 nM and 73.6 ± 6.3 nM, respectively; p < 0.005). The integrated diagnostic and therapeutic design of MFM nanomedicine potentially allows for image-guided, target-specific treatment of lung cancer.
Polymeric micelles; magnetic resonance imaging; theranostic nanomedicine; doxorubicin; αvβ6 integrin; superparamagnetic iron oxide; lung cancer therapy
Clinical resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition in lung cancer has been linked to the emergence of the EGFR T790M resistance mutation or amplification of MET. Additional mechanisms contributing to EGFR inhibitor resistance remain elusive. By applying combined analyses of gene expression, copy number, and biochemical analyses of EGFR inhibitor responsiveness, we identified homozygous loss of PTEN to segregate EGFR-dependent and EGFR-independent cells. We show that in EGFR-dependent cells, PTEN loss partially uncouples mutant EGFR from downstream signaling and activates EGFR, thereby contributing to erlotinib resistance. The clinical relevance of our findings is supported by the observation of PTEN loss in 1 out of 24 primary EGFR-mutant non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors. These results suggest a novel resistance mechanism in EGFR-mutant NSCLC involving PTEN loss.
We analyzed MET protein and copy number in NSCLC with or without EGFR mutations untreated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). MET copy number was examined in 28 NSCLC and 4 human bronchial epithelial cell lines (HBEC) and 100 primary tumors using quantitative real-time PCR. Positive results were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization and fluorescence in-situ hybridization. Total and phospho-MET protein expression was determined in 24 NSCLC and 2 HBEC cell lines using Western blot. EGFR mutations were examined for exon 19 deletions, T790M, and L858R. Knockdown of EGFR with siRNA was performed to examine the relation between EGFR and MET activation. High-level MET amplification was observed in 3 of 28 NSCLC cell lines and in 2 of 100 primary lung tumors that had not been treated with EGFR-TKIs. MET protein was highly expressed and phosphorylated in all the 3 cell lines with high MET amplification. In contrast, 6 NSCLC cell lines showed phospho-MET among 21 NSCLC cell lines without MET amplification (p = 0.042). Furthermore, those 6 cell lines harboring phospho-MET expression without MET amplification were all EGFR mutant (p = 0.0039). siRNA-mediated knockdown of EGFR abolished phospho-MET expression in examined 3 EGFR mutant cell lines of which MET gene copy number was not amplified. By contrast, phospho-MET expression in 2 cell lines with amplified MET gene was not down-regulated by knockdown of EGFR. Our results indicated that MET amplification was present in untreated NSCLC and EGFR mutation or MET amplification activated MET protein in NSCLC.
MET; amplification; EGFR; gefitinib; lung cancer
Most epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) are sensitive to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as erlotinib or gefitinib, but many EGFR wild type NSCLCs are resistant to TKIs. In this study, we examined the effects of the histone deacetylase inhibitor, romidepsin, in combination with erlotinib, in NSCLC cell lines and xenografts.
For in vitro studies, nine NSCLC cell lines with varying mutation status and histology were treated with erlotinib and romidepsin alone or in combination. 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium assays were performed to determine the concentration that inhibits 50% (IC50) value of each drug or the combination. For in vivo studies, NCI-H1299 xenografts were inoculated subcutaneously into athymic nude mice. Romidepsin and/or erlotinib were injected intraperitoneally after tumors developed and tumor sizes were measured.
We found that romidepsin increased the sensitivity of erlotinib synergistically in all nine NSCLC cell lines including EGFR and KRAS wild type cell lines, KRAS mutant cell lines, and TKI resistant EGFR mutant cell lines. This effect was partially due to enhanced apoptosis. Furthermore, cotreatment of erlotinib and romidepsin inhibited NCI-H1299 xenograft growth in athymic nude mice.
These observations support a role for the combination of a histone deacetylase inhibitor and a TKI in the treatment of NSCLCs.
Erlotinib; Romidepsin; Non-small cell lung cancer; Epidermal growth factor receptor; KRAS
Somatic genetic alterations in cancers have been linked with response to targeted therapeutics by creation of specific dependency on activated oncogenic signaling pathways. However, no tools currently exist to systematically connect such genetic lesions to therapeutic vulnerability. We have therefore developed a genomics approach to identify lesions associated with therapeutically relevant oncogene dependency. Using integrated genomic profiling, we have demonstrated that the genomes of a large panel of human non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines are highly representative of those of primary NSCLC tumors. Using cell-based compound screening coupled with diverse computational approaches to integrate orthogonal genomic and biochemical data sets, we identified molecular and genomic predictors of therapeutic response to clinically relevant compounds. Using this approach, we showed that v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) mutations confer enhanced Hsp90 dependency and validated this finding in mice with KRAS-driven lung adenocarcinoma, as these mice exhibited dramatic tumor regression when treated with an Hsp90 inhibitor. In addition, we found that cells with copy number enhancement of v-abl Abelson murine leukemia viral oncogene homolog 2 (ABL2) and ephrin receptor kinase and v-src sarcoma (Schmidt-Ruppin A-2) viral oncogene homolog (avian) (SRC) kinase family genes were exquisitely sensitive to treatment with the SRC/ABL inhibitor dasatinib, both in vitro and when it xenografted into mice. Thus, genomically annotated cell-line collections may help translate cancer genomics information into clinical practice by defining critical pathway dependencies amenable to therapeutic inhibition.
Deregulation of EGFR signaling is common in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) and this finding led to the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that are highly effective in a subset of NSCLC. Mutations of EGFR (mEGFR) and copy number gains (CNGs) of EGFR (gEGFR) and HER2 (gHER2) have been reported to predict for TKI response. Mutations in KRAS (mKRAS) are associated with primary resistance to TKIs.
We investigated the relationship between mutations, CNGs and response to TKIs in a large panel of NSCLC cell lines. Genes studied were EGFR, HER2, HER3 HER4, KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA. Mutations were detected by sequencing, while CNGs were determined by quantitative PCR (qPCR), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH). IC50 values for the TKIs gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva) were determined by MTS assay. For any of the seven genes tested, mutations (39/77, 50.6%), copy number gains (50/77, 64.9%) or either (65/77, 84.4%) were frequent in NSCLC lines. Mutations of EGFR (13%) and KRAS (24.7%) were frequent, while they were less frequent for the other genes. The three techniques for determining CNG were well correlated, and qPCR data were used for further analyses. CNGs were relatively frequent for EGFR and KRAS in adenocarcinomas. While mutations were largely mutually exclusive, CNGs were not. EGFR and KRAS mutant lines frequently demonstrated mutant allele specific imbalance i.e. the mutant form was usually in great excess compared to the wild type form. On a molar basis, sensitivity to gefitinib and erlotinib were highly correlated. Multivariate analyses led to the following results:
1. mEGFR and gEGFR and gHER2 were independent factors related to gefitinib sensitivity, in descending order of importance.
2. mKRAS was associated with increased in vitro resistance to gefitinib.
Our in vitro studies confirm and extend clinical observations and demonstrate the relative importance of both EGFR mutations and CNGs and HER2 CNGs in the sensitivity to TKIs.