The introduction of targeted therapies has caused a paradigm shift in the treatment of metastatic clear cell (cc)-renal cell carcinoma (RCC). We hypothesized that determining differential kinase activity between primary and metastatic tumor sites may identify critical drivers of progression and relevant therapeutic targets in metastatic disease. Kinomic profiling was performed on primary tumor and metastatic tumor deposits utilizing a peptide substrate microarray to detect relative tyrosine phosphorylation activity. Pharmacologic and genetic loss of function experiments were used to assess the biologic significance of the top scoring kinase on in vitro and in vivo tumor phenotypes. Kinomics identified 7 peptides with increased tyrosine phosphorylation in metastases that were significantly altered (p<0.005). Based on these peptides, bioinformatics analyses identified several candidate kinases activated in metastases compared to primary tumors. The highest ranked upstream kinase was Focal Adhesion Kinase 1 (FAK1). RCC lines demonstrate evidence of elevated FAK1 activation relative to non-transformed renal epithelial cells. Pharmacologic inhibition of FAK1 with GSK2256098 suppresses in vitro tumor phenotypes. In turn, FAK1 knockdown in RCC cells suppresses both in vitro phenotypes and in vivo tumor growth. Collectively, these data demonstrate functional activation of FAK1 in metastases and provide preclinical rationale for targeting this kinase in the setting of advanced ccRCC.
Keywords: clear cell renal cell carcinoma; focal adhesion kinase; kinomics; metastasis; therapeutic validation.