Purpose: Irreversible EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are thought to be one strategy to overcome EGFR-TKI resistance induced by T790M gatekeeper mutations in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), yet they display limited clinical efficacy. We hypothesized that additional resistance mechanisms that cooperate with T790M could be identified by profiling tyrosine phosphorylation in NSCLC cells with acquired resistance to reversible EGFR-TKI and harboring T790M.
Experimental design: We profiled PC9 cells with TKI-sensitive EGFR mutation and paired EGFR-TKI-resistant PC9GR (gefitinib-resistant) cells with T790M using immunoaffinity purification of tyrosine-phosphorylated peptides and mass spectrometry-based identification/quantification. Profiles of erlotinib perturbations were examined.
Results: We observed a large fraction of the tyrosine phosphoproteome was more abundant in PC9- and PC9GR-erlotinib-treated cells, including phosphopeptides corresponding to MET, IGF, and AXL signaling. Activation of these receptor tyrosine kinases by growth factors could protect PC9GR cells against the irreversible EGFR-TKI afatinib. We identified a Src family kinase (SFK) network as EGFR-independent and confirmed that neither erlotinib nor afatinib affected Src phosphorylation at the activation site. The SFK inhibitor dasatinib plus afatinib abolished Src phosphorylation and completely suppressed downstream phosphorylated Akt and Erk. Dasatinib further enhanced antitumor activity of afatinib or T790M-selective EGFR-TKI (WZ4006) in proliferation and apoptosis assays in multiple NSCLC cell lines with T790M-mediated resistance. This translated into tumor regression in PC9GR xenograft studies with combined afatinib and dasatinib.
Conclusions: Our results identified both codrivers of resistance along with T790M and support further studies of irreversible or T790M-selective EGFR inhibitors combined with dasatinib in patients with NSCLC with acquired T790M.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.