American Association for Cancer Research
00085472can193466-sup-231491_2_supp_6056336_q4vry5.pdf (9.66 MB)

Figure S3 from LIN9 and NEK2 Are Core Regulators of Mitotic Fidelity That Can Be Therapeutically Targeted to Overcome Taxane Resistance

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-31, 03:29 authored by Melyssa S. Roberts, Jennifer M. Sahni, Morgan S. Schrock, Katrina M. Piemonte, Kristen L. Weber-Bonk, Darcie D. Seachrist, Stefanie Avril, Lindsey J. Anstine, Salendra Singh, Steven T. Sizemore, Vinay Varadan, Matthew K. Summers, Ruth A. Keri

Suppression of LIN9 by BETi synergistically increases taxane sensitivity, mitotic progression errors, and apoptosis in vitro.


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A significant therapeutic challenge for patients with cancer is resistance to chemotherapies such as taxanes. Overexpression of LIN9, a transcriptional regulator of cell-cycle progression, occurs in 65% of patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a disease commonly treated with these drugs. Here, we report that LIN9 is further elevated with acquisition of taxane resistance. Inhibiting LIN9 genetically or by suppressing its expression with a global BET inhibitor restored taxane sensitivity by inducing mitotic progression errors and apoptosis. While sustained LIN9 is necessary to maintain taxane resistance, there are no inhibitors that directly repress its function. Hence, we sought to discover a druggable downstream transcriptional target of LIN9. Using a computational approach, we identified NIMA-related kinase 2 (NEK2), a regulator of centrosome separation that is also elevated in taxane-resistant cells. High expression of NEK2 was predictive of low survival rates in patients who had residual disease following treatment with taxanes plus an anthracycline, suggesting a role for this kinase in modulating taxane sensitivity. Like LIN9, genetic or pharmacologic blockade of NEK2 activity in the presence of paclitaxel synergistically induced mitotic abnormalities in nearly 100% of cells and completely restored sensitivity to paclitaxel, in vitro. In addition, suppressing NEK2 activity with two distinct small molecules potentiated taxane response in multiple in vivo models of TNBC, including a patient-derived xenograft, without inducing toxicity. These data demonstrate that the LIN9/NEK2 pathway is a therapeutically targetable mediator of taxane resistance that can be leveraged to improve response to this core chemotherapy. Resistance to chemotherapy is a major hurdle for treating patients with cancer. Combining NEK2 inhibitors with taxanes may be a viable approach for improving patient outcomes by enhancing mitotic defects induced by taxanes alone.

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