Clonal evolution and resistance to EGFR blockade in the blood of colorectal cancer patients.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:Blockade of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with the monoclonal antibodies cetuximab or panitumumab is effective in a subset of colorectal cancers (CRCs), but the emergence of resistance limits the efficacy of these therapeutic agents. At relapse, the majority of patients develop RAS mutations, while a subset acquires EGFR extracellular domain (ECD) mutations. Here we find that patients who experience greater and longer responses to EGFR blockade preferentially develop EGFR ECD mutations, while RAS mutations emerge more frequently in patients with smaller tumour shrinkage and shorter progression-free survival. In circulating cell-free tumour DNA of patients treated with anti-EGFR antibodies, RAS mutations emerge earlier than EGFR ECD variants. Subclonal RAS but not EGFR ECD mutations are present in CRC samples obtained before exposure to EGFR blockade. These data indicate that clonal evolution of drug-resistant cells is associated with the clinical outcome of CRC patients treated with anti-EGFR antibodies.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-specific monoclonal antibodies predominantly inhibit colorectal cancer (CRC) growth by interfering with receptor signaling. Recent analyses have shown that patients with CRC with mutated KRAS and BRAF oncogenes do not profit from treatment with such antibodies. Here we have used the binding domains of cetuximab and pantitumumab for constructing T cell-engaging BiTE antibodies. Both EGFR-specific BiTE antibodies mediated potent redirected lysis of KRAS- and BRAF-mutated CRC lines by human T cells at subpicomolar concentrations. The cetuximab-based BiTE antibody also prevented at very low doses growth of tumors from KRAS- and BRAF-mutated human CRC xenografts, whereas cetuximab was not effective. In nonhuman primates, no significant adverse events were observed during treatment for 3 wk at BiTE serum concentrations inducing, within 1 d, complete lysis of EGFR-overexpressing cancer cells. EGFR-specific BiTE antibodies may have potential to treat CRC that does not respond to conventional antibodies.
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:BACKGROUND: More than half of patients with KRAS-wild type advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) fail anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies. We studied EGFR-axis messenger RNA (mRNA) expression and RAS, RAF, PIK3CA mutations in order to identify additional biomarkers of cetuximab efficacy. METHODS: Previously genotyped (KRAS, NRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA mutations) formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumour biopsies of 226 cetuximab-treated CRC patients (1st to 3rd line therapy) were assessed for mRNA expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and its ligands EGF, Transofrming Growth Factor-a (TGFA), Amphiregulin (AREG) and Epiregulin (EREG) with real time quantitative PCR. Mutations were detected in 72 (31.9%) tumours for KRAS, in 6 (2.65%) for BRAF, in 7 (3.1%) for NRAS and in 37 (16.4%) for PIK3CA. RESULTS: Only PIK3CA mutations occasionally coexisted with other gene mutations. In univariate analysis, prognostic significance for survival ( from metastases until death) was seen for BRAF mutations (Hazard Ratio HR 8.1, 95% CI 3.4-19), codon 12-only KRAS mutations (HR 1.62, 95% CI 1.1-2.4), high AREG mRNA expression only in KRAS wild type CRC (HR 0.47, 95% CI 0.3-0.7) and high EREG mRNA expression irrespective of KRAS mutation status (HR 0.45, 95% CI 0.28-0.7). EREG tumoural mRNA expression was significantly associated with a 2.26-fold increased likelihood of objective response to cetuximab therapy (RECIST 1.1). In multivariate analysis, favourable predictive factors were high AREG mRNA in KRAS wild type tumours, high EREG mRNA, low Ephrin A2 receptor mRNA. Cetuximab-treated patients with AREG-low KRAS wild type CRC fared very poorly, their survival being similar to KRAS mutant CRC. Patients with KRAS codon 13 or other non-codon 12 mutations had a median survival (30 months, 95% CI 20-35) similar to that of patients with KRAS wild-type (median survival 29 months, 95% CI 25-35), in contrast to patients with KRAS codon 12 mutations who fared worse (median survival 19 months, 95% CI 15-26). CONCLUSIONS: BRAF and codon 12 KRAS mutations predict for adverse outcome of CRC patients receiving cetuximab. AREG mRNA reflects EGFR signalling in KRAS wild type tumours, predicting for cetuximab efficacy when high and failure when low. EREG may have a prognostic role independent of KRAS mutation.
Project description:It is now widely accepted that therapeutic antibodies targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) can have efficacy in KRAS wild-type advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. What remains to be ascertained is whether a subgroup of KRAS-mutated CRC patients might not also derive benefit from EGFR inhibitors. Metalloproteinase inhibitor 1 (TIMP-1) is a pleiotropic factor predictive of survival outcome of CRC patients. Levels of TIMP-1 were measured in pre-treatment plasma samples (n = 426) of metastatic CRC patients randomized to Nordic FLOX (5-fluorouracil and oxaliplatin) +/- cetuximab (NORDIC VII study). Multivariate analysis demonstrated a significant interaction between plasma TIMP-1 protein levels, KRAS status and treatment with patients bearing KRAS mutated tumors and high TIMP-1 plasma level (> 3rd quartile) showing a significantly longer overall survival if treated with cetuximab (HR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.25 to 0.93). To gain mechanistic insights into this association we analyzed a set of five different CRC cell lines. We show here that EGFR signaling induces TIMP-1 expression in CRC cells, and that TIMP-1 promotes a more aggressive behavior, specifically in KRAS mutated cells. The two sets of data, clinical and in vitro, are complementary and support each other, lending strength to our contention that TIMP- 1 plasma levels can identify a subset of patients with KRAS-mutated metastatic CRC that will have benefit from EGFR-inhibition therapy.
Project description:The targeting of activated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with therapeutic anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) such as cetuximab and panitumumab has been used as an effective strategy in the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, its clinical efficacy occurs only in a limited number of patients. Here, we performed whole-transcriptome analysis in xenograft mouse tumors induced by <i>KRAS</i><sup>G12D</sup> mutation-bearing LS174T CRC cells following treatment with either cetuximab or PBS. Through integrated analyses of differential gene expression with TCGA and CCLE public database, we identified TNS4, overexpressed in CRC patients and <i>KRAS</i> mutation-harboring CRC cell lines, significantly downregulated by cetuximab. While ablation of TNS4 expression via shRNA results in significant growth inhibition of LS174T, DLD1, WiDr, and DiFi CRC cell lines, conversely, its ectopic expression increases the oncogenic growth of these cells. Furthermore, TNS4 expression is transcriptionally regulated by MAP kinase signaling pathway. Consistent with this finding, selumetinib, a MEK1/2 inhibitor, suppressed oncogenic activity of CRC cells, and this effect is more profound in combination with cetuximab. Altogether, we propose that TNS4 plays a crucial role in CRC tumorigenesis, and that suppression of TNS4 would be an effective therapeutic strategy in treating a subset of cetuximab-refractory CRC patients including <i>KRAS</i> activating mutations.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeted monoclonal antibodies, including cetuximab and panitumumab, are used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). However, this treatment is only effective for a small subset of mCRC patients positive for the wild-type KRAS GTPase. GC1118 is a novel, fully humanized anti-EGFR IgG1 antibody that displays potent inhibitory effects on high-affinity EGFR ligand-induced signaling and enhanced antibody-mediated cytotoxicity. In this study, using 51 CRC patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), we showed that KRAS mutants expressed remarkably elevated autocrine levels of high-affinity EGFR ligands compared with wild-type KRAS. In three KRAS-mutant CRCPDXs, GC1118 was more effective than cetuximab, whereas the two agents demonstrated comparable efficacy against three wild-type KRAS PDXs. Persistent phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT signaling was thought to underlie resistance to GC1118. In support of these findings, a preliminary improved anti-cancer response was observed in a CRC PDX harboring mutated KRAS with intrinsically high AKT activity using GC1118 combined with the dual PI3K/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/AKT inhibitor BEZ-235, without observed toxicity. Taken together, the superior antitumor efficacy of GC1118 alone or in combination with PI3K/mTOR/AKT inhibitors shows great therapeutic potential for the treatment of KRAS-mutant mCRC with elevated ratios of high- to low-affinity EGFR ligands and PI3K-AKT pathway activation.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>KRAS and EGFR ectodomain-acquired mutations in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) have been correlated with acquired resistance to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). We investigated the frequency, co-occurrence, and distribution of acquired KRAS and EGFR mutations in patients with mCRC refractory to anti-EGFR mAbs using circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA).<h4>Patients and methods</h4>Sixty-two post-treatment plasma and 20 matching pretreatment archival tissue samples from KRAS (wt) mCRC patients refractory to anti-EGFR mAbs were evaluated by high-sensitivity emulsion polymerase chain reaction for KRAS codon 12, 13, 61, and 146 and EGFR 492 mutations.<h4>Results</h4>Plasma analyses showed newly detectable EGFR and KRAS mutations in 5/62 [8%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.02-0.18] and 27/62 (44%; 95% CI 0.3-0.56) samples, respectively. KRAS codon 61 and 146 mutations were predominant (33% and 11%, respectively), and multiple EGFR and/or KRAS mutations were detected in 11/27 (41%) cases. The percentage of mutant allele reads was inversely correlated with time since last treatment with EGFR mAbs (P = 0.038). In the matching archival tissue, these mutations were detectable as low-allele-frequency clones in 35% of patients with plasma mutations after treatment with anti-EGFR mAbs and correlated with shorter progression-free survival (PFS) compared with the cases with no new mutations (3.0 versus 8.0 months, P = 0.0004).<h4>Conclusion</h4>Newly detected KRAS and/or EGFR mutations in plasma ctDNA from patients refractory to anti-EGFR treatment appear to derive from rare, pre-existing clones in the primary tumors. These rare clones were associated with shorter PFS in patients receiving anti-EGFR treatment. Multiple simultaneous mutations in KRAS and EGFR in the ctDNA and the decline in allele frequency after discontinuation of anti-EGFR therapy in a subset of patients suggest that several resistance mechanisms can co-exist and that relative clonal burdens may change over time. Monitoring treatment-induced genetic alterations by sequencing ctDNA could identify biomarkers for treatment screening in anti-EGFR-refractory patients.