Background: Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is an aggressive cancer with no curative treatment for patients with recurrent/metastatic disease. The MYB-NFIB gene fusion is the main genomic hallmark and a potential therapeutic target.
Methods: Oncogenic signaling pathways were studied in cultured cells and/or tumors from 15 ACC patients. Phospho-receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) arrays were used to study the activity of RTKs. Effects of RTK inhibition on cell proliferation were analyzed with AlamarBlue, sphere assays, and two ACC xenograft models (n = 4-9 mice per group). The molecular effects of MYB-NFIB knockdown and IGF1R inhibition were studied with quantitative polymerase chain reaction, immunoblot, and gene expression microarrays. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: The MYB-NFIB fusion drives proliferation of ACC cells and is crucial for spherogenesis. Intriguingly, the fusion is regulated through AKT-dependent signaling induced by IGF1R overexpression and is downregulated upon IGF1R-inhibition (% expression of control ± SD = 27.2 ± 1.3, P < .001). MYB-NFIB regulates genes involved in cell cycle control, DNA replication/repair, and RNA processing. The transcriptional program induced by MYB-NFIB affects critical oncogenic mediators normally controlled by MYC and is reversed by pharmacological inhibition of IGF1R. Co-activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and MET promoted proliferation of ACC cells, and combined targeting of IGFR1/EGFR/MET induced differentiation and synergistically inhibited the growth of patient-derived xenografted ACCs (ACCX5M1, % growth of control ± SD = 34.9 ± 20.3, P = .006; ACCX6, % growth of control ± SD = 24.1 ± 17.5, P = .04).
Conclusions: MYB-NFIB is an oncogenic driver and a key therapeutic target in ACC that is regulated by AKT-dependent IGF1R signaling. Our studies uncover a new strategy to target an oncogenic transcriptional master regulator and provide new important insights into the biology and treatment of ACC.
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