Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive malignancy with limited effective treatment options. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitors have been shown to efficiently suppress MPM cell growth initially, with limited utility in the current clinical setting. In this study, we utilised a large collection of MPM cell lines and MPM tissue samples to study the role of E-cadherin (CDH1) and microRNA on the efficacy of FAK inhibitors in MPM. The immunohistochemistry (IHC) results showed that the majority of MPM FFPE samples exhibited either the absence of, or very low, E-cadherin protein expression in MPM tissue. We showed that MPM cells with high CDH1 mRNA levels exhibited resistance to the FAK inhibitor PND-1186. In summary, MPM cells that did not express CDH1 mRNA were sensitive to PND-1186, and MPM cells that retained CDH1 mRNA were resistant. A cell cycle analysis showed that PND-1186 induced cell cycle disruption by inducing the G2/M arrest of MPM cells. A protein-protein interaction study showed that EGFR is linked to the FAK pathway, and a target scan of the microRNAs revealed that microRNAs (miR-17, miR221, miR-222, miR137, and miR148) interact with EGFR 3'UTR. Transfection of MPM cells with these microRNAs sensitised the CHD1-expressing FAK-inhibitor-resistant MPM cells to the FAK inhibitor.
Keywords: E-cadherin; FAK inhibitor; drug resistant; malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM); microRNA.