Inhibition of HSP 90 is associated with potent anti-tumor activity in Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Jun 27;41(1):208. doi: 10.1186/s13046-022-02416-z.


Background: There is no universally accepted treatment for patients with advanced papillary renal cell carcinoma (PRCC). The presence of activating mutations in MET, as well as gain of chromosome 7, where the MET gene is located, are the most common genetic alterations associated with PRCC, leading to the clinical evaluation of MET tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in this cancer. However, TKIs targeting MET selectively, as well as multitargeted TKIs with activity against MET demonstrate modest efficacy in PRCC and primary and secondary treatment failure is common; other approaches are urgently needed to improve outcomes in these patients.

Methods: High throughput screening with small molecule libraries identified HSP90 inhibitors as agents of interest based on antitumor activity against patient derived PRCC cell lines. We investigated the activity of the orally available HSP90 inhibitor, SNX2112 in vitro, using 2D/3D PRCC cell culture models and in vivo, in mice tumor xenograft models. The molecular pathways mediating antitumor activity of SNX2112 were assessed by Western blot analysis, Flow cytometry, RNA-seq analysis, Real Time qPCR and imaging approaches.

Results: SNX2112 significantly inhibited cellular proliferation, induced G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in PRCC lines overexpressing MET. In contrast to TKIs targeting MET, SNX2112 inhibited both MET and known downstream mediators of MET activity (AKT, pAKT1/2 and pERK1/2) in PRCC cell lines. RNAi silencing of AKT1/2 or ERK1/2 expression significantly inhibited growth in PRCC cells. Furthermore, SNX2112 inhibited a unique set of E2F and MYC targets and G2M-associated genes. Interestingly, interrogation of the TCGA papillary RCC cohort revealed that these genes were overexpressed in PRCC and portend a poor prognosis. Finally, SNX-2112 demonstrated strong antitumor activity in vivo and prolonged survival of mice bearing human PRCC xenograft.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that HSP90 inhibition is associated with potent activity in PRCC, and implicate the PI3K/AKT and MEK/ERK1/2 pathways as important mediators of tumorigenesis. These data also provide the impetus for further clinical evaluation of HSP90, AKT, MEK or E2F pathway inhibitors in PRCC.

Keywords: E2F/MYC; HSP90; High throughput screening; MEK/ERK1/2 pathway; PI3K/AKT pathway; Papillary Kidney Cancer; RNA Sequencing; Treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / pathology
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases