Antibody targeting of anaplastic lymphoma kinase induces cytotoxicity of human neuroblastoma.
ABSTRACT: 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:Neuroblastoma, an embryonal tumour of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system, accounts for approximately 15% of all deaths due to childhood cancer. High-risk neuroblastomas are rapidly progressive; even with intensive myeloablative chemotherapy, relapse is common and almost uniformly fatal. Here we report the detection of previously unknown mutations in the ALK gene, which encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase, in 8% of primary neuroblastomas. Five non-synonymous sequence variations were identified in the kinase domain of ALK, of which three were somatic and two were germ line. The most frequent mutation, F1174L, was also identified in three different neuroblastoma cell lines. ALK complementary DNAs encoding the F1174L and R1275Q variants, but not the wild-type ALK cDNA, transformed interleukin-3-dependent murine haematopoietic Ba/F3 cells to cytokine-independent growth. Ba/F3 cells expressing these mutations were sensitive to the small-molecule inhibitor of ALK, TAE684 (ref. 4). Furthermore, two human neuroblastoma cell lines harbouring the F1174L mutation were also sensitive to the inhibitor. Cytotoxicity was associated with increased amounts of apoptosis as measured by TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL). Short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown of ALK expression in neuroblastoma cell lines with the F1174L mutation also resulted in apoptosis and impaired cell proliferation. Thus, activating alleles of the ALK receptor tyrosine kinase are present in primary neuroblastoma tumours and in established neuroblastoma cell lines, and confer sensitivity to ALK inhibition with small molecules, providing a molecular rationale for targeted therapy of this disease.
Project description:Despite improvements in cancer therapies in the past 50 years, neuroblastoma remains a devastating clinical problem and a leading cause of childhood cancer deaths. Advances in treatments for children with high-risk neuroblastoma have, until recently, involved addition of cytotoxic therapy to dose-intensive regimens. In this era of targeted therapies, substantial efforts have been made to identify optimal targets for different types of cancer. The discovery of hereditary and somatic activating mutations in the oncogene ALK has now placed neuroblastoma among other cancers, such as melanoma and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which benefit from therapies with oncogene-specific small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Crizotinib, a small-molecule inhibitor of ALK, has transformed the landscape for the treatment of NSCLC harbouring ALK translocations and has demonstrated activity in preclinical models of ALK-driven neuroblastomas. However, inhibition of mutated ALK is complex when compared with translocated ALK and remains a therapeutic challenge. This Review discusses the biology of ALK in the development of neuroblastoma, preclinical and clinical progress with the use of ALK inhibitors and immunotherapy, challenges associated with resistance to such therapies and the steps being taken to overcome some of these hurdles.
Project description: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: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:Mutations in the ALK tyrosine kinase receptor gene represent important therapeutic targets in neuroblastoma, yet their clinical translation has been challenging. The ALK(F1174L) mutation is sensitive to the ALK inhibitor crizotinib only at high doses and mediates acquired resistance to crizotinib in ALK-translocated cancers. We have shown that the combination of crizotinib and an inhibitor of downstream signaling induces a favorable response in transgenic mice bearing ALK(F1174L)/MYCN-positive neuroblastoma. Here, we investigated the molecular basis of this effect and assessed whether a similar strategy would be effective in ALK-mutated tumors lacking MYCN overexpression. We show that in ALK-mutated, MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells, crizotinib alone does not affect mTORC1 activity as indicated by persistent RPS6 phosphorylation. Combined treatment with crizotinib and an ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitor abrogated RPS6 phosphorylation, leading to reduced tumor growth and prolonged survival in ALK(F1174L)/MYCN-positive models compared to single agent treatment. By contrast, this combination, while inducing mTORC1 downregulation, caused reciprocal upregulation of PI3K activity in ALK-mutated cells expressing wild-type MYCN. Here, an inhibitor with potency against both mTOR and PI3K was more effective in promoting cytotoxicity when combined with crizotinib. Our findings should enable a more precise selection of molecularly targeted agents for patients with ALK-mutated tumors.
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:Neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial solid tumor in children, is derived from neural crest cells. Nearly half of patients present with metastatic disease and have a 5-year event-free survival of <50%. New approaches with targeted therapy may improve efficacy without increased toxicity. In this review we evaluate 3 promising targeted therapies: (i) (131)I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG), a radiopharmaceutical that is taken up by human norepinephrine transporter (hNET), which is expressed in 90% of neuroblastomas; (ii) immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies targeting the GD2 ganglioside, which is expressed on 98% of neuroblastoma cells; and (iii) inhibitors of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), a tyrosine kinase that is mutated or amplified in ~10% of neuroblastomas and expressed on the surface of most neuroblastoma cells. Early-phase trials have confirmed the activity of (131)I-MIBG in relapsed neuroblastoma, with response rates of ~30%, but the technical aspects of administering large amounts of radioactivity in young children and limited access to this agent have hindered its incorporation into treatment of newly diagnosed patients. Anti-GD2 antibodies have also shown activity in relapsed disease, and a recent phase III randomized trial showed a significant improvement in event-free survival for patients receiving chimeric anti-GD2 (ch14.18) combined with cytokines and isotretinoin after myeloablative consolidation therapy. A recently approved small-molecule inhibitor of ALK has shown promising preclinical activity for neuroblastoma and is currently in phase I and II trials. This is the first agent directed to a specific mutation in neuroblastoma, and marks a new step toward personalized therapy for neuroblastoma. Further clinical development of targeted treatments offers new hope for children with neuroblastoma.
Project description:Activating germline mutations of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) occur in most cases of hereditary neuroblastoma (NB) and the constitutively active kinase activity of ALK promotes cell proliferation and survival in NB. Therefore, ALK kinase is a potential therapeutic target for NB. In this study, we show that the novel ALK inhibitor alectinib effectively suppressed cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in NB cell lines with either wild-type ALK or mutated ALK (F1174L and D1091N) by blocking ALK-mediated PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling. In addition, alectinib enhanced doxorubicin-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis in NB cells. Furthermore, alectinib induced apoptosis in an orthotopic xenograft NB mouse model. Also, in the TH-MYCN transgenic mouse model, alectinib resulted in decreased tumor growth and prolonged survival time. These results indicate that alectinib may be a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of NB.