Drugs that target specific gene alterations have proven beneficial in the treatment of cancer. Because cancer cells have multiple resistance mechanisms, it is important to understand the downstream pathways of the target genes and monitor the pharmacodynamic markers associated with therapeutic efficacy. We performed a transcriptome analysis to characterize the response of various cancer cell lines to a selective fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitor (CH5183284/Debio 1347), a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitor, or a phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor. FGFR and MEK inhibition produced similar expression patterns, and the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) gene signature was altered in several FGFR inhibitor-sensitive cell lines. Consistent with these findings, CH5183284/Debio 1347 suppressed phospho-ERK in every tested FGFR inhibitor-sensitive cell line. Because the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway functions downstream of FGFR, we searched for a pharmacodynamic marker of FGFR inhibitor efficacy in a collection of cell lines with the ERK signature and identified dual-specificity phosphatase 6 (DUSP6) as a candidate marker. Although a MEK inhibitor suppressed the MAPK pathway, most FGFR inhibitor-sensitive cell lines are insensitive to MEK inhibitors and we found potent feedback activation of several pathways via FGFR. We therefore suggest that FGFR inhibitors exert their effect by suppressing ERK signaling without feedback activation. In addition, DUSP6 may be a pharmacodynamic marker of FGFR inhibitor efficacy in FGFR-addicted cancers.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.