mTOR is a highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase that serves as a central regulator of cell growth, survival and autophagy. Deregulation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway occurs commonly in cancer and numerous inhibitors targeting the ATP-binding site of these kinases are currently undergoing clinical evaluation. Here we report the characterization of Torin2, a second generation ATP-competitive inhibitor that is potent and selective for mTOR with a superior pharmacokinetic profile to previous inhibitors. Torin2 inhibited mTORC1-dependent T389 phosphorylation on S6K (RPS6KB1) with an EC50 of 250 pM with approximately 800-fold selectivity for cellular mTOR versus PI3K. Torin2 also exhibited potent biochemical and cellular activity against PIKK family kinases including ATM (EC50 28 nM), ATR (EC50 35 nM) and DNA-PK (EC50 118 nM) (PRKDC), the inhibition of which sensitized cells to Irradiation. Similar to the earlier generation compound Torin1 and in contrast to other reported mTOR inhibitors, Torin2 inhibited mTOR kinase and mTORC1 signaling activities in a sustained manner suggestive of a slow dissociation from the kinase. Cancer cell treatment with Torin2 for 24 hours resulted in a prolonged block in negative feedback and consequent T308 phosphorylation on Akt. These effects were associated with strong growth inhibition in vitro. Single agent treatment with Torin2 in vivo did not yield significant efficacy against KRAS-driven lung tumors, but the combination of Torin2 with MEK inhibitor AZD6244 yielded a significant growth inhibition. Taken together, our findings establish Torin2 as a strong candidate for clinical evaluation in a broad number of oncological settings where mTOR signaling has a pathogenic role.
mTOR; ATM; ATR; lung cancer; kinase inhibitors
The clinical efficacy of EGFR kinase inhibitors is limited by the development of drug resistance. The irreversible EGFR kinase inhibitor WZ4002 is effective against the most common mechanism of drug resistance mediated by the EGFR T790M mutation. Here we show, in multiple complementary models, that resistance to WZ4002 develops through aberrant activation of ERK signaling caused by either an amplification of MAPK1 or by downregulation of negative regulators of ERK signaling. Inhibition of MEK or ERK restores sensitivity to WZ4002 and prevents the emergence of drug resistance. We further identify MAPK1 amplification in an erlotinib resistant EGFR mutant NSCLC patient. In addition, the WZ4002 resistant MAPK1 amplified cells also demonstrate an increase both in EGFR internalization and a decrease in sensitivity to cytotoxic chemotherapy. Our findings provide insights into mechanisms of drug resistance to EGFR kinase inhibitors and highlight rationale combination therapies that should be evaluated in clinical trials.
Drug resistance; EGFR mutation; gene amplification
As the usage of fluorescence microscopy as a tool to study biological systems continues to grow, so does the need for additional tools that permit the selective detection of proteins of interest. Existing selective and well-characterized kinase inhibitors may be exploited to develop novel small molecule probes useful in imaging kinases by fluorescence microscopy.
The mTOR Complex 1 (mTORC1) protein kinase promotes growth and is the target of rapamycin, a clinically useful drug that also prolongs lifespan in model organisms. A persistent mystery is why the phosphorylation of many bona fide mTORC1 substrates is resistant to rapamycin. We find that the in vitro kinase activity of mTORC1 toward peptides encompassing established phosphorylation sites varies widely and correlates strongly with the resistance of the sites to rapamycin as well as to nutrient and growth factor starvation within cells. Slight modifications of the sites were sufficient to alter mTORC1 activity toward them in vitro and to cause concomitant changes within cells in their sensitivity to rapamycin and starvation. Thus, the intrinsic capacity of a phosphorylation site to serve as an mTORC1 substrate, a property we call substrate quality, is a major determinant of its sensitivity to modulators of the pathway. Our results reveal a mechanism through which mTORC1 effectors can respond differentially to the same signals.
HG-7-85-01(22) and HG-7-86-01(26) are thiazolo[5,4-b]pyridine containing type II tyrosine kinase inhibitors with potent cellular activity against both wild-type and ‘gatekeeper’ mutant T315I- Bcr-Abl. Here we report on the ‘hybrid design’ concept and subsequent structure activity guided optimization efforts that resulted in the development of these inhibitors.
T315I Bcr-Abl; Kinase inhibitor; Gatekeeper mutant; Type II inhibitor; Thiazolo[5; 4-b]pyridine
Activating mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are present in a subset of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and may represent an attractive therapeutic target. Here we report a 2-anilino-4-methylamino-5-chloropyrimidine, HG-10-102-01(4) is a potent and selective inhibitor of wild-type LRRK2 and the G2019S mutant. Compound 4 substantially inhibits Ser910 and Ser935 phosphorylation of both wild-type LRRK2 and G2019S mutant at a concentration of 0.1–0.3 µM in cells and is the first compound reported to be capable of inhibiting Ser910 and Ser935 phosphorylation in mouse brain following intraperitoneal delivery of doses as low as 50 mg/kg.
LRRK2; Blood-brain barrier; Brain Penetrant Inhibitor; 2,4-diaminopyrimidine
Here we describe the synthesis and characterization of a number of 3-amino-1H-indazol-6-yl-benzamides that were designed to target the “DFG-out” conformation of the kinase activation loop. Several compounds such as 4 and 11 exhibit single-digit nanomolar EC50s against FLT3, c-Kit and the gatekeeper T674M mutant of PDGFRα.
The ALKF1174L mutation is associated with intrinsic and acquired resistance to crizotinib and cosegregates with MYCN in neuroblastoma. In this study, we generated a mouse model overexpressing ALKF1174L in the neural crest. Compared to ALKF1174L and MYCN alone, coexpression of these two oncogenes led to the development of neuroblastomas with earlier onset, higher penetrance and enhanced lethality. ALKF1174L/MYCN tumors exhibited increased MYCN dosage due to ALKF1174L-induced activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR and MAPK pathways, coupled with suppression of MYCN pro-apoptotic effects. Combined treatment with the ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitor Torin2, overcame the resistance of ALKF1174L/MYCN tumors to crizotinib. Our findings demonstrate a pathogenic role for ALKF1174L in neuroblastomas overexpressing MYCN and suggest a strategy for improving targeted therapy for ALK-positive neuroblastoma.
The target of rapamycin (TOR) is a critical regulator of growth, survival and energy metabolism. The allosteric TORC1 inhibitor rapamycin has been used extensively to elucidate the TOR related signal pathway but is limited by its inability to inhibit TORC2. We used an unbiased cell proliferation assay of a kinase inhibitor library to discover QLIX- 55 as a potent inhibitor of S. cerevisiae growth. The functional target of QL-IX-55 is the ATP-binding site of TOR2 as evidenced by the discovery of resistant alleles of TOR2 through rational design and unbiased selection strategies. QL-IX-55 is capable of potently inhibiting both TOR complex 1 and 2 (TORC1 and TORC2) as demonstrated by biochemical IP kinase assays (IC50: <50 nM) and cellular assays for inhibition of substrate YPK1 phosphorylation. In contrast to Rapamycin, QL-IX-55 is capable of inhibiting TORC2-dependent transcription which suggests that this compound will be a powerful probe to dissect the Tor2/TORC2 related signaling pathway in yeast.
Genetic approaches have demonstrated that the p110β isoform of PI3K is essential for the growth of PTEN-null tumors. Thus, it is desirable to develop p110β-specific inhibitors for cancer therapy. Using a panel of PI3K isoform-specific cellular assays, we screened a collection of compounds possessing activities against kinases in the PI3K superfamily and identified a potent and selective p110β inhibitor: KIN-193. We show that KIN-193 is efficacious specifically in blocking AKT signaling and tumor growth that are dependent on p110β activation or PTEN-loss. Broad profiling across a panel of 422 human tumor cell lines demonstrates that the PTEN mutation status of cancer cells strongly correlates with their response to KIN-193. Together, our data provide the first pharmacological evidence that PTEN-deficient tumors are dependent on p110β in animals, and suggest that KIN-193 can be pursued as a drug to treat tumors that are dependent on p110β, while sparing other PI3K isoforms.
The c-Fes protein-tyrosine kinase modulates cellular signaling pathways governing differentiation, the innate immune response, and vasculogenesis. Here we report the identification of Type I and II kinase inhibitors with potent activity against c-Fes both in vitro and in cell-based assays. One of the most potent inhibitors is the previously described anaplastic lymphoma kinase inhibitor, TAE684. The crystal structure of TAE684 in complex with the c-Fes SH2-kinase domain showed excellent shape complementarity with the ATP-binding pocket and a key role for the gatekeeper methionine in the inhibitory mechanism. TAE684 and two pyrazolopyrimidines with nanomolar potency against c-Fes in vitro were used to establish a novel role for this kinase in osteoclastogenesis, illustrating the value of these inhibitors as tool compounds to probe the diverse biological functions associated with this unique kinase.
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is linked to Parkinson’s disease and may represent an attractive therapeutic target. Here we report a 2,4-dianilino-5-chloro-pyrimidine, TAE684, a previously reported inhibitor of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), is also a potent inhibitor of LRRK2 kinase activity (IC50 of 7.8 nM against wild-type LRRK2, 6.1 nM against the G2019S mutant). TAE684 substantially inhibits Ser910 and Ser935 phosphorylation of both wild-type LRRK2 and G2019S mutant at a concentration of 0.1–0.3 µM in cells and in mouse spleen and kidney, but not in brain, following oral doses of 10 mg/kg.
Parkinson’s disease; LRRK2; TAE684
Tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)-treated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients commonly show rapid and significant peripheral blood blast cell reduction, however a marginal decrease in bone marrow blasts. This suggests a protective environment and highlights the demand for a better understanding of stromal:leukemia cell communication. As a strategy to improve clinical efficacy, we searched for novel agents capable of potentiating the stroma-diminished effects of TKI treatment of mutant FLT3-expressing cells.
We designed a combinatorial high throughput drug screen using well-characterized kinase inhibitor-focused libraries to identify novel kinase inhibitors capable of overriding stromal-mediated resistance to TKIs, such as PKC412 and AC220. Standard liquid culture proliferation assays, cell cycle and apoptosis analysis, and immunoblotting were carried out with cell lines or primary AML to validate putative candidates from the screen and characterize the mechanism(s) underlying observed synergy.
Results and Conclusions
Our study led to the observation of synergy between selective Akt inhibitors and FLT3 inhibitors against mutant FLT3-positive AML in either the absence or presence of stroma. Our findings are consistent with evidence that Akt activation is characteristic of mutant FLT3-transformed cells, as well as observed residual Akt activity following FLT3 inhibitor treatment. In conclusion, our study highlights the potential importance of Akt as a signaling factor in leukemia survival, and supports the use of the co-culture chemical screen to identify agents able to potentiate TKI anti-leukemia activity in a cytoprotective microenvironment.
The mitogen activated kinases JNK1/2/3 are key enzymes in signaling modules that transduce and integrate extracellular stimuli into coordinated cellular response. Here we report the discovery of the first irreversible inhibitors of JNK1/2/3. We describe two JNK3 co-crystal structures at 2.60 and 2.97 Å resolutions that show the compounds form covalent bonds with a conserved cysteine residue. JNK-IN-8 is a selective JNK inhibitor that inhibits phosphorylation of c-Jun, a direct substrate of JNK kinase, in cells exposed to sub-micromolar drug in a manner that depends on covalent modification of the conserved cysteine residue. Extensive biochemical, cellular and pathway-based profiling establish the selectivity of JNK-IN-8 for JNK and suggest that the compound will be broadly useful as a pharmacological probe of JNK-dependent signal transduction. Potential lead compounds have also been identified for kinases including IRAK1, PIK3C3, PIP4K2C, and PIP5K3.
The members of the Aurora kinase family play critical roles in the regulation of the cell cycle and mitotic spindle assembly and have been intensively investigated as potential targets for a new class of anti-cancer drugs. We describe a new highly potent and selective class of Aurora kinase inhibitors discovered using a phenotypic cellular screen. Optimized inhibitors display many of the hallmarks of Aurora inhibition including endoreduplication, polyploidy, and loss of cell viability in cancer cells. Structure-activity relationships with respect to kinome-wide selectivity and guided by an Aurora B co-crystal structure resulted in the identification of key selectivity determinants and discovery of a sub-series with selectivity towards Aurora A. A direct comparison of biochemical and cellular profile with respect to published Aurora inhibitors including VX-680, AZD1152, MLN8054, and a pyrimidine-based compound from Genentech demonstrates that compounds 1 and 3 will become valuable additional pharmacological probes of Aurora dependent functions.
ADP-ribosylation factor 1 (Arf1) plays a critical role in regulating secretory traffic and membrane transport within the Golgi of eukaryotic cells. Arf1 is activated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (ArfGEFs) which confer spatial and temporal specificity to vesicular transport. We describe here the discovery and characterization of Golgicide A (GCA), a potent, highly specific, and reversible inhibitor of the cis-Golgi ArfGEF, GBF1. Inhibition of GBF1 function resulted in rapid dissociation of COPI vesicle coat from Golgi membranes and subsequent disassembly of the Golgi and trans-Golgi network (TGN). Secretion of soluble and membrane-associated proteins was arrested at the ER-Golgi intermediate compartment, whereas endocytosis and recycling of transferrin was unaffected by GBF1 inhibition. Internalized shiga toxin was arrested within the endocytic compartment and was unable to reach the dispersed TGN. Collectively, these results highlight the central role for GBF1 in coordinating bidirectional transport and maintaining structural integrity of the Golgi.
The mTOR Complex 1 (mTORC1) kinase nucleates a pathway that promotes cell growth and proliferation and is the target of rapamycin, a drug with many clinical uses1. mTORC1 regulates mRNA translation, but the overall translational program is poorly defined and no unifying model exists to explain how mTORC1 differentially controls the translation of specific mRNAs. Here we use high-resolution transcriptome-scale ribosome profiling to monitor translation in cells acutely treated with the mTOR inhibitor Torin1, which, unlike rapamycin, fully inhibits mTORC12. These data reveal a surprisingly simple view of the mRNA features and mechanisms that confer mTORC1-dependent translation control. The subset of mRNAs that are specifically regulated by mTORC1 consists almost entirely of transcripts with established 5′ terminal oligopyrimidine (TOP) motifs, or, like Hsp90ab1 and Ybx1, with previously unrecognized TOP or related TOP-like motifs that we identified. We find no evidence to support proposals that mTORC1 preferentially regulates mRNAs with increased 5′ UTR length or complexity3. mTORC1 phosphorylates a myriad of translational regulators, but how it controls TOP mRNA translation is unknown4. Remarkably, loss of just the well-characterized mTORC1 substrates, the 4E-BP family of translational repressors, is sufficient to render TOP and TOP-like mRNA translation resistant to Torin1. The 4E-BPs inhibit translation initiation by interfering with the interaction between the cap-binding protein eIF4E and eIF4G1. Loss of this interaction diminishes the capacity of eIF4E to bind TOP and TOP-like mRNAs much more than other mRNAs, explaining why mTOR inhibition selectively suppresses their translation. Our results clarify the translational program controlled by mTORC1 and identify 4E-BPs and eIF4G1 as its master effectors.
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), including crizotinib, are effective treatments in preclinical models and in cancer patients with ALK-translocated cancers. However, their efficacy will ultimately be limited by the development of acquired drug resistance. Here we report two mechanisms of ALK TKI resistance identified from, a crizotinib treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patient and in a cell line generated from the resistant tumor (DFCI076), and from studying a resistant version of the ALK TKI (TAE684) sensitive H3122 cell line. The crizotinib resistant DFCI076 cell line, harboured a unique L1152R ALK secondary mutation, and was also resistant to the structurally unrelated ALK TKI TAE684. Although the DFCI076 cell line was still partially dependent on ALK for survival, it also contained concurrent co-activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling. In contrast, the TAE684 resistant (TR3) H3122 cell line did not contain an ALK secondary mutation but instead harboured co-activation of EGFR signalling. Dual inhibition of both ALK and EGFR was the most effective therapeutic strategy for the DFCI076 and H3122 TR3 cell lines. We further identified a subset (3/50; 6%) of treatment naïve NSCLC patients with ALK rearrangements that also had concurrent EGFR activating mutations. Our studies identify resistance mechanisms to ALK TKIs mediated by both ALK and by a bypass signalling pathway mediated by EGFR. These mechanisms can occur independently, or in the same cancer, suggesting that the combination of both ALK and EGFR inhibitors may represent an effective therapy for these subsets of NSCLC patients.
Non-small cell lung carcinoma; translocation; kinase inhibitor; drug resistance; mutation
Selective protein kinase inhibitors have only been developed against a small number of kinase targets. Here we demonstrate that “high-throughput kinase profiling” is an efficient method for the discovery of lead compounds for established as well as unexplored kinase targets. We screened a library of 118 compounds constituting two distinct scaffolds (furan-thiazolidinediones and pyrimido-diazepines) against a panel of 353 kinases. A distinct kinase selectivity profile was observed for each scaffold. Selective inhibitors were identified with submicromolar cellular activity against PIM1, ERK5, ACK1, MPS1/PLK1–3 and Aurora A,B kinases. In addition, we identified potent inhibitors for so far unexplored kinases such as DRAK1, HIPK2 and DCAMKL1 that await further evaluation. This inhibitor-centric approach permits comprehensive assessment of a scaffold of interest and represents an efficient and general strategy for identifying new selective kinase inhibitors.
K-RAS mutation poses a particularly difficult problem for cancer therapy. Activating mutations in K-RAS are common in cancers of the lung, pancreas, and colon and are associated with poor response to therapy. As such, targeted therapies that abrogate K-RAS-induced oncogenicity would be of tremendous value.
We searched for small molecule kinase inhibitors that preferentially affect the growth of colorectal cancer cells expressing mutant K-RAS. The mechanism of action of one inhibitor was explored using chemical and genetic approaches.
We identified BAY61-3606 as an inhibitor of proliferation in colorectal cancer cells expressing mutant forms of K-RAS, but not in isogenic cells expressing wild-type K-RAS. In addition to its anti-proliferative effects in mutant cells, BAY61-3606 exhibited a distinct biological property in wild-type cells in that it conferred sensitivity to inhibition of RAF. In this context, BAY61-3606 acted by inhibiting MAP4K2 (GCK), which normally activates NFκβ signaling in wild-type cells in response to inhibition of RAF. As a result of MAP4K2 inhibition, wild-type cells became sensitive to AZ-628, a RAF inhibitor, when also treated with BAY61-3606.
These studies indicate that BAY61-3606 exerts distinct biological activities in different genetic contexts.
Protein kinases are intensely studied mediators of cellular signaling, yet important questions remain regarding their regulation and in vivo properties. Here we use a probe-based chemoprotemics platform to profile several well studied kinase inhibitors against more than 200 kinases in native cell proteomes and reveal new biological targets for some of these inhibitors. Several striking differences were identified between native and recombinant kinase inhibitory profiles, in particular, for the Raf kinases. The native kinase binding profiles presented here closely mirror the cellular activity of these inhibitors, even when the inhibition profiles differ dramatically from recombinant assay results. Additionally, Raf activation events could be detected upon live cell treatment with inhibitors. These studies highlight the complexities of protein kinase behavior in the cellular context and demonstrate that profiling with only recombinant/purified enzymes can be misleading.
Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are strongly associated with late-onset autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease. LRRK2 is highly expressed in immune cells and recent work points towards a link between LRRK2 and innate immunity. Here we demonstrate that stimulation of the Toll-Like Receptor (TLR) pathway by MyD88-dependent agonists in bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) or RAW264.7 macrophages induces marked phosphorylation of LRRK2 at Ser910 and Ser935, the phosphorylation sites that regulate the binding of 14-3-3 to LRRK2. Phosphorylation of these residues is prevented by knock-out of MyD88 in BMDMs, but not the alternative TLR adaptor protein TRIF. Utilising both pharmacological inhibitors, including a new TAK1 inhibitor, NG25, and genetic models, we provide evidence that both the canonical (IKKα and IKKβ) and IKK-related (IKKε and TBK1) kinases mediate TLR agonist induced phosphorylation of LRRK2 in vivo. Moreover, all four IKK members directly phosphorylate LRRK2 at Ser910 and Ser935 in vitro. Consistent with previous work describing Ser910 and Ser935 as pharmacodynamic biomarkers of LRRK2 activity, we find that the TLR independent basal phosphorylation of LRRK2 at Ser910 and Ser935 is abolished following treatment of macrophages with LRRK2 kinase inhibitors. However, the increased phosphorylation of Ser910 and Ser935 induced by activation of the MyD88 pathway is insensitive to LRRK2 kinase inhibitors. Finally, employing LRRK2-deficient BMDMs, we present data indicating that LRRK2 does not play a major role in regulating the secretion of inflammatory cytokines induced by activation of the MyD88 pathway. Our findings provide the first direct link between LRRK2 and the IKKs that mediate many immune responses. Further work is required to uncover the physiological roles that phosphorylation of LRRK2 by IKKs play in controlling macrophage biology and to determine how phosphorylation of LRRK2 by IKKs impacts upon the use of Ser910 and Ser935 as pharmacodynamic biomarkers.
The mTOR mediated PI3K/AKT/mTOR signal transduction pathway has been demonstrated to play a key role in a broad spectrum of cancers. Starting from the mTOR selective inhibitor 1 (Torin1), a focused medicinal chemistry effort led to the discovery of an improved mTOR inhibitor 3 (Torin2), which possesses an EC50 of 0.25 nM for inhibiting cellular mTOR activity. Compound 3 exhibited 800-fold selectivity over PI3K (EC50: 200 nM) and over 100-fold binding selectivity relative to 440 other protein kinases. Compound 3 has significantly improved bioavailability (54%), metabolic stability and plasma exposure relative to compound 1.
PIK3CA gain-of-function mutations are a common oncogenic event in human malignancy1–4, making PI3K an attractive target for cancer therapy. Despite the great promise of targeted therapy, resistance often develops, resulting in treatment failure. To elucidate mechanisms of resistance to PI3K-targeted therapy, we constructed a mouse model of breast cancer conditionally expressing human PIK3CAH1047R. Surprisingly, most PIK3CAH1047R-driven mammary tumors recurred following PIK3CAH1047R inactivation. Genomic analyses of recurrent tumors revealed multiple lesions, including focal amplification of c-Met or c-Myc. While c-Met amplification allowed tumor survival dependent on activation of endogenous PI3K, tumors with c-Myc amplification became independent of the PI3K pathway. Functional analyses demonstrated that c-Myc contributed to oncogene independence and resistance to PI3K inhibition. Importantly, PI3KCA mutations and increased c-MYC levels co-occur in a substantial fraction of human breast tumors. Together, these data suggest that c-MYC elevation represents a potential mechanism by which tumors develop resistance to current PI3K-targeted therapies.
Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are strongly associated with late-onset autosomal dominant Parkinson’s disease. We employed a novel, parallel, compound-centric approach to identify a potent and selective LRRK2 inhibitor LRRK2-IN-1, and demonstrated that inhibition of LRRK2 induces dephosphorylation of Ser910/Ser935 and accumulation of LRRK2 within aggregate structures. LRRK2-IN-1 will serve as a versatile tool to pharmacologically interrogate LRRK2 biology and study its role in Parkinson’s disease.