Identification of ALK as a major familial neuroblastoma predisposition gene.
ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer that can be inherited, but the genetic aetiology is largely unknown. Here we show that germline mutations in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene explain most hereditary neuroblastomas, and that activating mutations can also be somatically acquired. We first identified a significant linkage signal at chromosome bands 2p23-24 using a whole-genome scan in neuroblastoma pedigrees. Resequencing of regional candidate genes identified three separate germline missense mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of ALK that segregated with the disease in eight separate families. Resequencing in 194 high-risk neuroblastoma samples showed somatically acquired mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain in 12.4% of samples. Nine of the ten mutations map to critical regions of the kinase domain and were predicted, with high probability, to be oncogenic drivers. Mutations resulted in constitutive phosphorylation, and targeted knockdown of ALK messenger RNA resulted in profound inhibition of growth in all cell lines harbouring mutant or amplified ALK, as well as in two out of six wild-type cell lines for ALK. Our results demonstrate that heritable mutations of ALK are the main cause of familial neuroblastoma, and that germline or acquired activation of this cell-surface kinase is a tractable therapeutic target for this lethal paediatric malignancy.
Project description:Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a receptor tyrosine kinase aberrantly expressed in neuroblastoma, a devastating pediatric cancer of the sympathetic nervous system. Germline and somatically acquired ALK aberrations induce increased autophosphorylation, constitutive ALK activation and increased downstream signaling. Thus, ALK is a tractable therapeutic target in neuroblastoma, likely to be susceptible to both small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors and therapeutic antibodies-as has been shown for other receptor tyrosine kinases in malignancies such as breast and lung cancer. Small-molecule inhibitors of ALK are currently being studied in the clinic, but common ALK mutations in neuroblastoma appear to show de novo insensitivity, arguing that complementary therapeutic approaches must be developed. We therefore hypothesized that antibody targeting of ALK may be a relevant strategy for the majority of neuroblastoma patients likely to have ALK-positive tumors. We show here that an antagonistic ALK antibody inhibits cell growth and induces in vitro antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity of human neuroblastoma-derived cell lines. Cytotoxicity was induced in cell lines harboring either wild type or mutated forms of ALK. Treatment of neuroblastoma cells with the dual Met/ALK inhibitor crizotinib sensitized cells to antibody-induced growth inhibition by promoting cell surface accumulation of ALK and thus increasing the accessibility of antigen for antibody binding. These data support the concept of ALK-targeted immunotherapy as a highly promising therapeutic strategy for neuroblastomas with mutated or wild-type ALK.
Project description:The anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) protein drives tumorigenesis in subsets of several tumors through chromosomal rearrangements that express and activate its C-terminal kinase domain. In addition, germline predisposition alleles and acquired mutations are found in the full-length protein in the pediatric tumor neuroblastoma. ALK-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have become important new drugs for ALK-driven lung cancer, but acquired resistance via multiple mechanisms including kinase-domain mutations eventually develops, limiting median progression-free survival to less than a year. Here we assess the impact of several kinase-domain mutations that arose during TKI resistance selections of ALK+ anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) cell lines. These include novel variants with respect to ALK-fusion cancers, R1192P and T1151M, and with respect to ALCL, F1174L and I1171S. We assess the effects of these mutations on the activity of six clinical inhibitors in independent systems engineered to depend on either the ALCL fusion kinase NPM-ALK or the lung-cancer fusion kinase EML4-ALK. Our results inform treatment strategies with a likelihood of bypassing mutations when detected in resistant patient samples and highlight differences between the effects of particular mutations on the two ALK fusions.
Project description:Clinical outcome remains poor in patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, in which chemoresistant relapse is common following high-intensity conventional multimodal therapy. Novel treatment approaches are required. Although recent genomic profiling initiatives have not revealed a high frequency of mutations in any significant number of therapeutically targeted genes, two exceptions, amplification of the MYCN oncogene and somatically acquired tyrosine kinase domain point mutations in anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), present exciting possibilities for targeted therapy. In contrast with the situation with ALK, in which a robust pipeline of pharmacologic agents is available from early clinical use in adult malignancy, therapeutic targeting of MYCN (and MYC oncoproteins in general) represents a significant medicinal chemistry challenge that has remained unsolved for two decades. We review the latest approaches envisioned for blockade of ALK activity in neuroblastoma, present a classification of potential approaches for therapeutic targeting of MYCN, and discuss how recent developments in targeting of MYC proteins seem to make therapeutic inhibition of MYCN a reality in the clinic.
Project description:In this era of more rational therapies, substantial efforts are being made to identify optimal targets. The discovery of translocations involving the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) receptor tyrosine kinase in a subset of non-small cell lung cancers has become a paradigm for precision medicine. Notably, ALK was initially discovered as the fusion gene in anaplastic large cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a disease predominantly of childhood. The discovery of activating kinase domain mutations of the full-length ALK receptor as the major cause of hereditary neuroblastoma, and that somatically acquired mutations and amplification events often drive the malignant process in a subset of sporadic tumors, has established ALK as a tractable molecular target across histologically diverse tumors in which ALK is a critical mediator of oncogenesis. We are now uncovering the reexpression of this developmentally regulated protein in a broader subset of pediatric cancers, providing therapeutic targeting opportunities for diseases with shared molecular etiology. This review focuses on the role of ALK in pediatric malignancies, alongside the prospects and challenges associated with the development of effective ALK-inhibition strategies.
Project description:ALK receptor tyrosine kinase has been shown to be a therapeutic target in neuroblastoma. Germline ALK activating mutations are responsible for the majority of hereditary neuroblastoma and somatic ALK activating mutations are also frequently observed in sporadic cases of advanced NB. Crizotinib, a first-line therapy in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring ALK rearrangements, demonstrates striking efficacy against ALK-rearranged NB. However, crizotinib fails to effectively inhibit the activity of ALK when activating mutations are present within its kinase domain, as with the F1174L mutation. Here we show that a new ALK inhibitor AZD3463 effectively suppressed the proliferation of NB cell lines with wild type ALK (WT) as well as ALK activating mutations (F1174L and D1091N) by blocking the ALK-mediated PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and ultimately induced apoptosis and autophagy. In addition, AZD3463 enhanced the cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin on NB cells. AZD3463 also exhibited significant therapeutic efficacy on the growth of the NB tumors with WT and F1174L activating mutation ALK in orthotopic xenograft mouse models. These results indicate that AZD3463 is a promising therapeutic agent in the treatment of NB.
Project description:Activating mutations in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene were recently discovered in neuroblastoma, a cancer of the developing autonomic nervous system that is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy in the first year of life. The most frequent ALK mutations in neuroblastoma cause amino acid substitutions (F1174L and R1275Q) in the intracellular tyrosine kinase domain of the intact ALK receptor. Identification of ALK as an oncogenic driver in neuroblastoma suggests that crizotinib (PF-02341066), a dual-specific inhibitor of the ALK and Met tyrosine kinases, will be useful in treating this malignancy. Here, we assessed the ability of crizotinib to inhibit proliferation of neuroblastoma cell lines and xenografts expressing mutated or wild-type ALK. Crizotinib inhibited proliferation of cell lines expressing either R1275Q-mutated ALK or amplified wild-type ALK. In contrast, cell lines harboring F1174L-mutated ALK were relatively resistant to crizotinib. Biochemical analyses revealed that this reduced susceptibility of F1174L-mutated ALK to crizotinib inhibition resulted from an increased adenosine triphosphate-binding affinity (as also seen in acquired resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors). Thus, this effect should be surmountable with higher doses of crizotinib and/or with higher-affinity inhibitors.
Project description:Until recently, the genetic basis of neuroblastoma, a heterogeneous neoplasm arising from the developing sympathetic nervous system, remained undefined. The discovery of gain-of-function mutations in the ALK receptor tyrosine kinase gene as the major cause of familial neuroblastoma led to the discovery of identical somatic mutations and rapid advancement of ALK as a tractable therapeutic target. Inactivating mutations in a master regulator of neural crest development, PHOX2B, have also been identified in a subset of familial neuroblastomas. Other high penetrance susceptibility alleles likely exist, but together these heritable mutations account for less than 10% of neuroblastoma cases. A genome-wide association study of a large neuroblastoma cohort identified common and rare polymorphisms highly associated with the disease. Ongoing resequencing efforts aim to further define the genetic landscape of neuroblastoma.
Project description:Numerous mutations have been observed in the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) in both germline and sporadic neuroblastoma. Here, we have investigated the Y1278S mutation, observed in four patient cases, and its potential importance in the activation of the full length ALK receptor. Y1278S is located in the 1278-YRASYY-1283 motif of the ALK activation loop, which has previously been reported to be important in the activation of the ALK kinase domain. In this study, we have characterized activation loop mutations within the context of the full length ALK employing cell culture and Drosophila melanogaster model systems. Our results show that the Y1278S mutant observed in patients with neuroblastoma harbors gain-of-function activity. Secondly, we show that the suggested interaction between Y1278 and other amino acids might be of less importance in the activation process of the ALK kinase than previously proposed. Thirdly, of the three individual tyrosines in the 1278-YRASYY-1283 activation loop, we find that Y1283 is the critical tyrosine in the activation process. Taken together, our observations employing different model systems reveal new mechanistic insights on how the full length ALK receptor is activated and highlight differences with earlier described activation mechanisms observed in the NPM-ALK fusion protein, supporting a mechanism of activation more in line with those observed for the Insulin Receptor (InR).
Project description:Genetic studies have established anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), a cell surface receptor tyrosine kinase, as a tractable molecular target in neuroblastoma. We describe comprehensive genomic, biochemical, and computational analyses of ALK mutations across 1,596 diagnostic neuroblastoma samples. ALK tyrosine kinase domain mutations occurred in 8% of samples--at three hot spots and 13 minor sites--and correlated significantly with poorer survival in high- and intermediate-risk neuroblastoma. Biochemical and computational studies distinguished oncogenic (constitutively activating) from nononcogenic mutations and allowed robust computational prediction of their effects. The mutated variants also showed differential in vitro crizotinib sensitivities. Our studies identify ALK genomic status as a clinically important therapeutic stratification tool in neuroblastoma and will allow tailoring of ALK-targeted therapy to specific mutations.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is a childhood extracranial solid tumour that is associated with a number of genetic changes. Included in these genetic alterations are mutations in the kinase domain of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK), which have been found in both somatic and familial neuroblastoma. In order to treat patients accordingly requires characterisation of these mutations in terms of their response to ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Here, we report the identification and characterisation of two novel neuroblastoma ALK mutations (A1099T and R1464STOP), which we have investigated together with several previously reported but uncharacterised ALK mutations (T1087I, D1091N, T1151M, M1166R, F1174I and A1234T). In order to understand the potential role of these ALK mutations in neuroblastoma progression, we have employed cell culture-based systems together with the model organism Drosophila as a readout for ligand-independent activity. Mutation of ALK at position 1174 (F1174I) generates a gain-of-function receptor capable of activating intracellular targets such as ERK (extracellular signal regulated kinase) and STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) in a ligand-independent manner. Analysis of these previously uncharacterised ALK mutants and comparison with ALK(F1174) mutants suggests that ALK mutations observed in neuroblastoma fall into three classes. These classes are: (i) gain-of-function ligand-independent mutations such as ALK(F1174l), (ii) kinase-dead ALK mutants, e.g. ALK(I1250T) (Schönherr et al., 2011a) and (iii) ALK mutations that are ligand-dependent in nature. Irrespective of the nature of the observed ALK mutants, in every case the activity of the mutant ALK receptors could be abrogated by the ALK inhibitor crizotinib (Xalkori/PF-02341066), albeit with differing levels of sensitivity.