Activity of second-generation ALK inhibitors against crizotinib-resistant mutants in an NPM-ALK model compared to EML4-ALK

Cancer Med. 2015 Jul;4(7):953-65. doi: 10.1002/cam4.413. Epub 2015 Feb 26.


Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a tyrosine kinase receptor involved in both solid and hematological tumors. About 80% of ALK-positive anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) cases are characterized by the t(2;5)(p23;q35) translocation, encoding for the aberrant fusion protein nucleophosmin (NPM)-ALK, whereas 5% of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients carry the inv(2)(p21;p23) rearrangement, encoding for the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4)-ALK fusion. The ALK/c-MET/ROS inhibitor crizotinib successfully improved the treatment of ALK-driven diseases. However, several cases of resistance appeared in NSCLC patients, and ALK amino acid substitutions were identified as a leading cause of resistance to crizotinib. Second-generation ALK inhibitors have been developed in order to overcome crizotinib resistance. In this work, we profiled in vitro the activity of crizotinib, AP26113, ASP3026, alectinib, and ceritinib against six mutated forms of ALK associated with clinical resistance to crizotinib (C1156Y, L1196M, L1152R, G1202R, G1269A, and S1206Y) and provide a classification of mutants according to their level of sensitivity/resistance to the drugs. Since the biological activity of ALK mutations extends beyond the specific type of fusion, both NPM-ALK- and EML4-ALK-positive cellular models were used. Our data revealed that most mutants may be targeted by using different inhibitors. One relevant exception is represented by the G1202R substitution, which was highly resistant to all drugs (>10-fold increased IC50 compared to wild type) and may represent the most challenging mutation to overcome. These results provide a prediction of cross-resistance of known crizotinib-resistant mutations against all second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) clinically available, and therefore could be a useful tool to help clinicians in the management of crizotinib-resistance cases.

Keywords: Alectinib; EML4-ALK; G1202R; NPM-ALK; ceritinib; crizotinib resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Crizotinib
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Mice
  • Mutation*
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • EML4-ALK fusion protein, human
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyridines
  • Crizotinib
  • p80(NPM-ALK) protein
  • ALK protein, human
  • Alk protein, mouse
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases

Associated data

  • RefSeq/NM_004304