Irreversible pyrimidine-based EGFR inhibitors, including WZ4002, selectively inhibit both EGFR-activating and EGFR inhibitor-resistant T790M mutations more potently than wild-type EGFR. Although this class of mutant-selective EGFR inhibitors is effective clinically in lung cancer patients harboring EGFR(T790M), prior preclinical studies demonstrate that acquired resistance can occur through genomic alterations that activate ERK1/2 signaling. Here, we find that ERK1/2 reactivation occurs rapidly following WZ4002 treatment. Concomitant inhibition of ERK1/2 by the MEK inhibitor trametinib prevents ERK1/2 reactivation, enhances WZ4002-induced apoptosis, and inhibits the emergence of resistance in WZ4002-sensitive models known to acquire resistance via both T790M-dependent and T790M-independent mechanisms. Resistance to WZ4002 in combination with trametinib eventually emerges due to AKT/mTOR reactivation. These data suggest that initial cotargeting of EGFR and MEK could significantly impede the development of acquired resistance in EGFR-mutant lung cancer.
Significance: Patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer develop acquired resistance to EGFR and mutant-selective EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Here, we show that cotargeting EGFR and MEK can prevent the emergence of a broad variety of drug resistance mechanisms in vitro and in vivo and may be a superior therapeutic regimen for these patients.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.