HER2 genomic amplification in circulating tumor DNA from patients with cetuximab-resistant colorectal cancer.
ABSTRACT: Patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) harboring wild-type KRAS benefit from epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeted therapy. However, patients who are treated with anti-EGFR antibodies will eventually develop the resistance to those agents. HER2 amplification is one of the mechanisms conferring resistance to anti-EGFR antibody therapy and could therefore be a potential therapeutic target. The aim of this study was to detect HER2 amplification in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from patients with CRC and acquired resistance to anti-EGFR antibody therapy.Our data showed that 22% (4/18) of patients in the cohort exhibited HER2 amplification. One of these patients was found to be positive for HER2 amplification in matched tumor specimens collected after cetuximab therapy, at which point the patient had acquired cetuximab resistance, despite being negative for HER2 amplification prior to therapy.We analyzed plasma ctDNA using digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from 18 patients with CRC, who had been treated with anti-EGFR antibody-based therapy (cetuximab) and subsequently acquired resistant cetuximab. HER2 gene copy number was analyzed using fluorescence in situ hybridization in tumor samples before and after acquisition of resistance to cetuximab-based therapy.Analysis of plasma ctDNA by digital PCR could be useful for detecting HER2 amplification in patients with CRC who were resistant to anti-EGFR antibody therapy.
Project description:Colorectal cancers (CRCs) evolve by a reiterative process of genetic diversification and clonal evolution. The molecular profile of CRC is routinely assessed in surgical or bioptic samples. Genotyping of CRC tissue has inherent limitations; a tissue sample represents a single snapshot in time, and it is subjected to spatial selection bias owing to tumor heterogeneity. Repeated tissue samples are difficult to obtain and cannot be used for dynamic monitoring of disease progression and response to therapy. We exploited circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) to genotype colorectal tumors and track clonal evolution during treatment with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-specific antibodies cetuximab or panitumumab. We identified alterations in ctDNA of patients with primary or acquired resistance to EGFR blockade in the following genes: KRAS, NRAS, MET, ERBB2, FLT3, EGFR and MAP2K1. Mutated KRAS clones, which emerge in blood during EGFR blockade, decline upon withdrawal of EGFR-specific antibodies, indicating that clonal evolution continues beyond clinical progression. Pharmacogenomic analysis of CRC cells that had acquired resistance to cetuximab reveals that upon antibody withdrawal KRAS clones decay, whereas the population regains drug sensitivity. ctDNA profiles of individuals who benefit from multiple challenges with anti-EGFR antibodies exhibit pulsatile levels of mutant KRAS. These results indicate that the CRC genome adapts dynamically to intermittent drug schedules and provide a molecular explanation for the efficacy of rechallenge therapies based on EGFR blockade.
Project description:EGF receptor (EGFR)-mutant lung cancers eventually become resistant to treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). The combination of EGFR-TKI afatinib and anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab can overcome acquired resistance in mouse models and human patients. Because afatinib is also a potent HER2 inhibitor, we investigated the role of HER2 in EGFR-mutant tumor cells. We show in vitro and in vivo that afatinib plus cetuximab significantly inhibits HER2 phosphorylation. HER2 overexpression or knockdown confers resistance or sensitivity, respectively, in all studied cell line models. FISH analysis revealed that HER2 was amplified in 12% of tumors with acquired resistance versus only 1% of untreated lung adenocarcinomas. Notably, HER2 amplification and EGFR(T790M) were mutually exclusive. Collectively, these results reveal a previously unrecognized mechanism of resistance to EGFR-TKIs and provide a rationale to assess the status and possibly target HER2 in EGFR-mutant tumors with acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs.
Project description:Anti-EGFR antibodies are effective in therapies for late-stage colorectal cancer (CRC); however, many tumours are unresponsive or develop resistance. We performed genomic analysis of intrinsic and acquired resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in prospectively collected tumour samples from 25 CRC patients receiving cetuximab (an EGFR inhibitor). Of 25 CRC patients, 13 displayed intrinsic resistance to cetuximab; 12 were intrinsically sensitive. We obtained six re-biopsy samples at acquired resistance from the intrinsically sensitive patients. NCOA4–RET and LMNA–NTRK1 fusions and NRG1 and GNAS amplifications were found in intrinsic-resistant patients. In cetuximab-sensitive patients, we found KRAS K117N and A146T mutations in addition to BRAF V600E, AKT1 E17K, PIK3CA E542K, and FGFR1 or ERBB2 amplifications. The comparison between baseline and acquired-resistant tumours revealed an extreme shift in variant allele frequency of somatic variants, suggesting that cetuximab exposure dramatically selected for rare resistant subclones that were initially undetectable. There was also an increase in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition at acquired resistance, with a reduction in the immune infiltrate. Furthermore, characterization of an acquired-resistant, patient-derived cell line showed that PI3K/mTOR inhibition could rescue cetuximab resistance. Thus, we uncovered novel genomic alterations that elucidate the mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in metastatic CRC patients.
Project description:Monoclonal antibodies targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), cetuximab and panitumumab, are a mainstay of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) treatment. However, a significant number of patients suffer from primary or acquired resistance. RAS mutations are negative predictors of clinical efficacy of anti-EGFR antibodies in patients with mCRC. Oncogenic RAS activates the MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathways, which are considered the main effectors of resistance. However, the relative impact of these pathways in RAS-mutant CRC is less defined. A better mechanistic understanding of RAS-mediated resistance may guide development of rational intervention strategies. To this end we developed cancer models for functional dissection of resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in vitro and in vivo. To selectively activate MAPK- or AKT-signaling we expressed conditionally activatable RAF-1 and AKT in cancer cells. We found that either pathway independently protected sensitive cancer models against anti-EGFR antibody treatment in vitro and in vivo. RAF-1- and AKT-mediated resistance was associated with increased expression of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins. Biomarkers of MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathway activation correlated with inferior outcome in a cohort of mCRC patients receiving cetuximab-based therapy. Dual pharmacologic inhibition of PI3K and MEK successfully sensitized primary resistant CRC models to anti-EGFR therapy. In conclusion, combined targeting of MAPK and PI3K/AKT signaling, but not single pathways, may be required to enhance the efficacy of anti-EGFR antibody therapy in patients with RAS-mutated CRC as well as in RAS wild type tumors with clinical resistance.
Project description:Intrinsic and acquired resistance to anti-EGFR antibody therapy, frequently mediated by a mutant or amplified KRAS oncogene, is a significant challenge in the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the mechanism of KRAS-mediated therapeutic resistance is not well understood. In this study, we demonstrate that clinically used anti-EGFR antibodies, including cetuximab and panitumumab, induce killing of sensitive CRC cells through p73-dependent transcriptional activation of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein PUMA. PUMA induction and p73 activation are abrogated in CRC cells with acquired resistance to anti-EGFR antibodies due to KRAS alterations. Inhibition of aurora kinases preferentially kills mutant KRAS CRC cells and overcomes KRAS-mediated resistance to anti-EGFR antibodies in vitro and in vivo by restoring PUMA induction. Our results suggest that PUMA plays a critical role in meditating the sensitivity of CRC cells to anti-EGFR antibodies, and that restoration of PUMA-mediated apoptosis is a promising approach to improve the efficacy of EGFR-targeted therapy.
Project description:We investigated the effect of triple monoclonal antibody inhibition of EGFR to overcome acquired resistance to first generation of anti-EGFR inhibitors.MM151 is a mixture of three different monoclonal IgG1 antibodies directed toward three different, non-overlapping, epitopes of the EGFR. We performed an in vivo study by using human CRC cell lines (SW48, LIM 1215 and CACO2) which are sensitive to EGFR inhibitors, in order to evaluate the activity of MM151 as compared to standard anti-EGFR mAbs, such as cetuximab, as single agent or in a sequential strategy of combination MM151 with irinotecan (induction therapy) followed by MM151 with a selective MEK1/2 inhibitor (MEKi) (maintenance therapy). Furthermore, the ability of MM151 to overcome acquired resistance to cetuximab has been also evaluated in cetuximab-refractory CRC models.MM151 shown stronger antitumor activity as compared to cetuximab. The maintenance treatment with MM151 plus MEKi resulted the most effective therapeutic modality. In fact, this combination caused an almost complete suppression of tumor growth in SW48, LIM 1215 and CACO2 xenografts model at 30 week. Moreover, in this treatment group, mice with no evidence of tumor were more than double as compared to single agent treated mice. Its superior activity has also been demonstrated, in cetuximab-refractory CRC models.These results provide experimental evidence that more efficient and complete EGFR blockade may determine better antitumor activity and could contribute to prevent and/or overcome acquired resistance to EGFR inhibitors.
Project description:Anti-EGFR antibody-based treatment is an important therapeutic strategy for advanced colorectal cancer (CRC); despite this, several mutations--including KRAS, BRAF, and PIK3CA mutations, and HER2 amplification--are associated with the mechanisms underlying the development of resistance to anti-EGFR therapy. The aim of our study was to investigate the frequencies and clinical implications of these genetic alterations in advanced CRC.KRAS, BRAF, and PIK3CA mutations were determined by Cobas real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 191 advanced CRC patients with distant metastasis. Microsatellite instability (MSI) status was determined by a fragmentation assay and HER2 amplification was assessed by silver in situ hybridization. In addition, KRAS mutations were investigated by the Sanger sequencing method in 97 of 191 CRC cases.Mutations in KRAS, BRAF, and PIK3CA were found in 104 (54.5%), 6 (3.1%), and 25 (13.1%) cases of advanced CRC, respectively. MSI-high status and HER2 amplification were observed in 3 (1.6%) and 16 (8.4%) cases, respectively. PIK3CA mutations were more frequently found in KRAS mutant type (18.3%) than KRAS wild type (6.9%) (P = 0.020). In contrast, HER2 amplifications and BRAF mutations were associated with KRAS wild type with borderline significance (P = 0.052 and 0.094, respectively). In combined analyses with KRAS, BRAF and HER2 status, BRAF mutations or HER2 amplifications were associated with the worst prognosis in the wild type KRAS group (P = 0.004). When comparing the efficacy of detection methods, the results of real time PCR analysis revealed 56 of 97 (57.7%) CRC cases with KRAS mutations, whereas Sanger sequencing revealed 49 cases (50.5%).KRAS mutations were found in 54.5% of advanced CRC patients. Our results support that subgrouping using PIK3CA and BRAF mutation or HER2 amplification status, in addition to KRAS mutation status, is helpful for managing advanced CRC patients.
Project description:Anti-EGFR antibodies are effective in therapies for late-stage colorectal cancer (CRC); however, many tumours are unresponsive or develop resistance. We performed genomic analysis of intrinsic and acquired resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in prospectively collected tumour samples from 25 CRC patients receiving cetuximab (an EGFR inhibitor). Of 25 CRC patients, 13 displayed intrinsic resistance to cetuximab; 12 were intrinsically sensitive. We obtained six re-biopsy samples at acquired resistance from the intrinsically sensitive patients. NCOA4-RET and LMNA-NTRK1 fusions and NRG1 and GNAS amplifications were found in intrinsic-resistant patients. In cetuximab-sensitive patients, we found KRAS K117N and A146T mutations in addition to BRAF V600E, AKT1 E17K, PIK3CA E542K, and FGFR1 or ERBB2 amplifications. The comparison between baseline and acquired-resistant tumours revealed an extreme shift in variant allele frequency of somatic variants, suggesting that cetuximab exposure dramatically selected for rare resistant subclones that were initially undetectable. There was also an increase in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition at acquired resistance, with a reduction in the immune infiltrate. Furthermore, characterization of an acquired-resistant, patient-derived cell line showed that PI3K/mTOR inhibition could rescue cetuximab resistance. Thus, we uncovered novel genomic alterations that elucidate the mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in metastatic CRC patients.