Exportin 1 inhibition prevents neuroendocrine transformation through SOX2 down-regulation in lung and prostate cancers

Sci Transl Med. 2023 Aug 2;15(707):eadf7006. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.adf7006. Epub 2023 Aug 2.


In lung and prostate adenocarcinomas, neuroendocrine (NE) transformation to an aggressive derivative resembling small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is associated with poor prognosis. We previously described dependency of SCLC on the nuclear transporter exportin 1. Here, we explored the role of exportin 1 in NE transformation. We observed up-regulated exportin 1 in lung and prostate pretransformation adenocarcinomas. Exportin 1 was up-regulated after genetic inactivation of TP53 and RB1 in lung and prostate adenocarcinoma cell lines, accompanied by increased sensitivity to the exportin 1 inhibitor selinexor in vitro. Exportin 1 inhibition prevented NE transformation in different TP53/RB1-inactivated prostate adenocarcinoma xenograft models that acquire NE features upon treatment with the aromatase inhibitor enzalutamide and extended response to the EGFR inhibitor osimertinib in a lung cancer transformation patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model exhibiting combined adenocarcinoma/SCLC histology. Ectopic SOX2 expression restored the enzalutamide-promoted NE phenotype on adenocarcinoma-to-NE transformation xenograft models despite selinexor treatment. Selinexor sensitized NE-transformed lung and prostate small cell carcinoma PDXs to standard cytotoxics. Together, these data nominate exportin 1 inhibition as a potential therapeutic target to constrain lineage plasticity and prevent or treat NE transformation in lung and prostate adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Animals
  • Down-Regulation
  • Exportin 1 Protein
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors* / genetics
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors* / metabolism
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma* / genetics


  • enzalutamide
  • selinexor
  • SOX2 protein, human
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors