Pathway inhibition of the RAS-driven MAPK pathway using small-molecule kinase inhibitors has been a key focus for treating cancers driven by oncogenic RAS, yet significant clinical responses are lacking. Feedback reactivation of ERK driven by drug-induced RAF activity has been suggested as one of the major drug resistance mechanisms, especially in the context of oncogenic RAS. To determine whether additional adaptive resistance mechanisms may coexist, we characterized global phosphoproteomic changes after MEK inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244) treatment in KRAS-mutant A427 and A549 lung adenocarcinoma cell lines employing mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics. We identified 9,075 quantifiable unique phosphosites (corresponding to 3,346 unique phosphoproteins), of which 567 phosphosites were more abundant and 512 phosphosites were less abundant after MEK inhibition. Selumetinib increased phosphorylation of KSR-1, a scaffolding protein required for assembly of MAPK signaling complex, as well as altered phosphorylation of GEF-H1, a novel regulator of KSR-1 and implicated in RAS-driven MAPK activation. Moreover, selumetinib reduced inhibitory serine phosphorylation of MET at Ser985 and potentiated HGF- and EGF-induced AKT phosphorylation. These results were recapitulated by pan-RAF (LY3009120), MEK (GDC0623), and ERK (SCH772984) inhibitors, which are currently under early-phase clinical development against RAS-mutant cancers. Our results highlight the unique adaptive changes in MAPK scaffolding proteins (KSR-1, GEF-H1) and in RTK signaling, leading to enhanced PI3K-AKT signaling when the MAPK pathway is inhibited.
Implications: This study highlights the unique adaptive changes in MAPK scaffolding proteins (KSR-1, GEF-H1) and in RTK signaling, leading to enhanced PI3K/AKT signaling when the MAPK pathway is inhibited. Mol Cancer Res; 14(10); 1019-29. ©2016 AACR.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.