MAP2K1 Mutation in Colorectal Cancer Patients: Therapeutic Challenge Using Patient-Derived Tumor Cell Lines

J Cancer. 2017 Jul 20;8(12):2263-2268. doi: 10.7150/jca.19582. eCollection 2017.


BACKGROUND: The MAP2K1 K57T mutation is known to be a potential mechanism of primary and secondary resistance to EGFR inhibitors in metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) and has also been reported to promote resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitors. It is important to overcome therapeutic resistance to EGFR inhibitors to improve the treatment outcomes of metastatic CRC. METHODS: We established patient-derived tumor cells (PDCs) from metastatic lesions that newly appeared during treatment with a BRAF inhibitor (LGX-818) plus an EGFR inhibitor (cetuximab) in a patient with BRAF-mutant CRC. To investigate therapeutic options to overcome acquired resistance due to MAP2K1 mutation in BRAF-mutant CRC, we performed cell viability assays using the PDCs. RESULTS: We tested whether the PDCs were resistant to an EGFR inhibitor (cetuximab) and a BRAF inhibitor (sorafenib) as these cells were established at the time of resistance to the EGFR plus BRAF inhibitors. Moreover, the anti-tumor effect of AZD6244 (MEK inhibitor) was evaluated because PDCs harbored a MAP2K1 mutation at the time of resistance to the EGFR plus BRAF inhibitors. MTT proliferation assays showed that monotherapy with cetuximab, sorafenib, or AZD6244 did not suppress cell viability. We next tested viability of the PDCs to combination treatment with cetuximab plus AZD6244 and sorafenib plus AZD6244. Proliferation of PDCs was significantly inhibited by sorafenib and AZD6244, but not by cetuximab plus AZD6244. Investigation of the combined effect of sorafenib and AZD6244 using the calculated combination index (CI) showed synergistic effects of sorafenib and AZD6244 in combination therapy applied to PDCs with the MAP2K1 K57T mutation. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that combination treatment with BRAF and MEK inhibitors might be a novel treatment strategy for MAP2K1 K57T-mutant CRC. This finding will be helpful to guide treatment of patients with CRC that is resistant to EGFR inhibitors.

Keywords: MAP2K1 mutation; MEK inhibitor; RAF inhibitor.