Purpose: No effective systemic therapy exists for patients with metastatic low-grade serous (LGS) ovarian cancers. BRAF and KRAS mutations are common in serous borderline (SB) and LGS ovarian cancers, and MEK inhibition has been shown to induce tumor regression in a minority of patients; however, no correlation has been observed between mutation status and clinical response. With the goal of identifying biomarkers of sensitivity to MEK inhibitor treatment, we performed an outlier analysis of a patient who experienced a complete, durable, and ongoing (> 5 years) response to selumetinib, a non-ATP competitive MEK inhibitor.
Patients and methods: Next-generation sequencing was used to analyze this patient's tumor as well as an additional 28 SB/LGS tumors. Functional characterization of an identified novel alteration of interest was performed.
Results: Analysis of the extraordinary responder's tumor identified a 15-nucleotide deletion in the negative regulatory helix of the MAP2K1 gene encoding for MEK1. Functional characterization demonstrated that this mutant induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway activation, promoted anchorage-independent growth and tumor formation in mice, and retained sensitivity to selumetinib. Analysis of additional LGS/SB tumors identified mutations predicted to induce extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway activation in 82% (23 of 28), including two patients with BRAF fusions, one of whom achieved an ongoing complete response to MEK inhibitor-based combination therapy.
Conclusion: Alterations affecting the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway are present in the majority of patients with LGS ovarian cancer. Next-generation sequencing analysis revealed deletions and fusions that are not detected by older sequencing approaches. These findings, coupled with the observation that a subset of patients with recurrent LGS ovarian cancer experienced dramatic and durable responses to MEK inhibitor therapy, support additional clinical studies of MEK inhibitors in this disease.
© 2015 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.