Background: Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is a serine/threonine kinase that is a key regulator of multiple stages of mitotic progression. Plk1 is upregulated in many tumor types including colorectal cancer (CRC) and portends a poor prognosis. TAK-960 is an ATP-competitive Plk1 inhibitor that has demonstrated efficacy across a broad range of cancer cell lines, including CRC. In this study, we investigated the activity of TAK-960 against a large collection of CRC models including 55 cell lines and 18 patient-derived xenografts.
Methods: Fifty-five CRC cell lines and 18 PDX models were exposed to TAK-960 and evaluated for proliferation (IC50) and Tumor Growth Inhibition Index, respectively. Additionally, 2 KRAS wild type and 2 KRAS mutant PDX models were treated with TAK-960 as single agent or in combination with cetuximab or irinotecan. TAK-960 mechanism of action was elucidated through immunoblotting and cell cycle analysis.
Results: CRC cell lines demonstrated a variable anti-proliferative response to TAK-960 with IC50 values ranging from 0.001 to > 0.75 μmol/L. Anti-proliferative effects were sustained after removal of drug. Following TAK-960 treatment a highly variable accumulation of mitotic (indicating cell cycle arrest) and apoptotic markers was observed. Cell cycle analysis demonstrated that TAK-960 treatment induced G2/M arrest and polyploidy. Six out of the eighteen PDX models responded to single agent TAK-960 therapy (TGII< 20). The addition of TAK-960 to standard of care chemotherapy resulted in largely additive antitumor effects.
Conclusion: TAK-960 is an active anti-proliferative agent against CRC cell lines and PDX models. Collectively, these data suggest that TAK-960 may be of therapeutic benefit alone or in combination with other agents, although future work should focus on the development of predictive biomarkers and hypothesis-driven rational combinations.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Patient-derived xenograft; Plk1; TAK-960.