Purpose: Heat shock protein-90 (HSP-90), a molecular chaperone required by numerous oncogenic kinases [e.g., HER-2, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), Raf-1, v-Src, and AKT] for conformational stability, has attracted wide interest as a novel target for cancer therapy. HSP-90 inhibition induces degradation of HSP-90 client proteins, leading to a combinatorial inhibition of multiple oncogenic signaling pathways with consecutive growth arrest and apoptosis. MET, a tyrosine kinase that is constitutively active in tumor cells with MET oncogene amplification, has recently been identified as another HSP-90 client.
Experimental design: The aim of our study was to assess the efficacy of SNX-2112, a synthetic HSP-90 inhibitor, in 3 different MET-amplified tumor cell lines (GTL-16, MKN-45, and EBC-1) as well as PR-GTL-16 cells, a GTL-16 subline selected for resistance to the highly selective MET kinase inhibitor PHA-665752.
Results: In all cell lines, SNX-2112 led to degradation of MET, HER-2, EGFR, and AKT, as well as abrogation of Ras/Raf/MEK/MAPK and PI3K/AKT signaling, followed by complete cell cycle arrest. SNX-5542, an orally bioavailable prodrug of SNX-2112, displayed significant antitumor efficacy in vivo in nude mice bearing MET-amplified tumor xenografts. Importantly, HSP-90 inhibition maintained its antitumor efficacy in PR-GTL-16 cells both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that HSP-90 inhibition could be a particularly valuable strategy in MET-amplified tumors that have acquired resistance to MET kinase inhibition.
Conclusions: Our study provides evidence for the efficacy of HSP-90 inhibition in MET-amplified cancer cells, particularly when MET kinase inhibitor resistance has emerged.