Eradicating tumor dormancy that develops following epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment of EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer, is an attractive therapeutic strategy but the mechanisms governing this process are poorly understood. Blockade of ERK1/2 reactivation following EGFR TKI treatment by combined EGFR/MEK inhibition uncovers cells that survive by entering a senescence-like dormant state characterized by high YAP/TEAD activity. YAP/TEAD engage the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition transcription factor SLUG to directly repress pro-apoptotic BMF, limiting drug-induced apoptosis. Pharmacological co-inhibition of YAP and TEAD, or genetic deletion of YAP1, all deplete dormant cells by enhancing EGFR/MEK inhibition-induced apoptosis. Enhancing the initial efficacy of targeted therapies could ultimately lead to prolonged treatment responses in cancer patients.
Keywords: YAP; dormancy; drug resistance; drug tolerance; epidermal growth factor receptor; lung cancer; senescence.
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