American Society of Clinical Oncology Conquer Cancer Foundation
Danish Council for Independent Research
Aarhus University, Denmark
ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe FGFR kinases are promising therapeutic targets in multiple cancer types, including lung and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, and bladder cancer. Although several FGFR kinase inhibitors have entered clinical trials, single-agent clinical efficacy has been modest and resistance invariably occurs. We therefore conducted a genome-wide functional screen to characterize mechanisms of resistance to FGFR inhibition in a FGFR1-dependent lung cancer cellular model. Our screen identified known resistance drivers, such as MET, and additional novel resistance mediators including members of the neurotrophin receptor pathway (NTRK), the TAM family of tyrosine kinases (TYRO3, MERTK, AXL), and MAPK pathway, which were further validated in additional FGFR-dependent models. In an orthogonal approach, we generated a large panel of resistant clones by chronic exposure to FGFR inhibitors in FGFR1- and FGFR3-dependent cellular models and characterized gene expression profiles employing the L1000 platform. Notably, resistant clones had enrichment for NTRK and MAPK signaling pathways. Novel mediators of resistance to FGFR inhibition were found to compensate for FGFR loss in part through reactivation of MAPK pathway. Intriguingly, coinhibition of FGFR and specific receptor tyrosine kinases identified in our screen was not sufficient to suppress ERK activity or to prevent resistance to FGFR inhibition, suggesting a redundant reactivation of RAS–MAPK pathway. Dual blockade of FGFR and MEK, however, proved to be a more powerful approach in preventing resistance across diverse FGFR dependencies and may represent a therapeutic opportunity to achieve durable responses to FGFR inhibition in FGFR-dependent cancers. Mol Cancer Ther; 17(7); 1526–39. ©2018 AACR.