Reverse epithelial-mesenchymal transition contributes to the regain of drug sensitivity in tyrosine kinase inhibitor-resistant non-small cell lung cancer cells.
ABSTRACT: Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are currently the first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations. These patients receive platinum-based chemotherapy as the second-line treatment after they develop resistance to TKIs. Many patients regain sensitivity to the TKIs used in the first-line treatment after the failure of chemotherapy. However, the molecular mechanism for the regain of TKI sensitivity is largely unknown. In this study, we established gefitinib-resistant PC9 and HCC827 cell lines, which did not harbor the EGFR T790M mutation and MET amplification but exhibited the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype. Overexpression of EMT inducers, Snail or Slug, in the parental lines promoted their resistance to gefitinib. The gefitinib-resistant cell lines regained their sensitivity to gefitinib and displayed reverse EMT phenotypes after long-term culture in gefitinib-free culture medium. Blockage of reverse EMT by stable expression of Snail or Slug prevented the regain of TKI sensitivity. In conclusion, reverse EMT is one of the major mechanisms for the regain of TKI sensitivity in TKI-resistant NSCLC cells, suggesting that the development of small molecules targeting the EMT process may prolong the efficacy of TKIs in NSCLC patients with EGFR mutations.
Project description:Aberrant activation of the hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway has been implicated in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem-like cell (CSC) maintenance; both processes can result in tumor progression and treatment resistance in several types of human cancer. Hh cooperates with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway in embryogenesis. We found that the Hh signaling pathway was silenced in EGFR-TKI-sensitive non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells, while it was inappropriately activated in EGFR-TKI-resistant NSCLC cells, accompanied by EMT induction and ABCG2 overexpression. Upregulation of Hh signaling through extrinsic SHH exposure downregulated E-cadherin expression and elevated Snail and ABCG2 expression, resulting in gefitinib tolerance (P < 0.001) in EGFR-TKI-sensitive cells. Blockade of the Hh signaling pathway using the SMO antagonist SANT-1 restored E-cadherin expression and downregulate Snail and ABCG2 in EGFR-TKI-resistant cells. A combination of SANT-1 and gefitinib markedly inhibited tumorigenesis and proliferation in EGFR-TKI-resistant cells (P < 0.001). These findings indicate that hyperactivity of Hh signaling resulted in EGFR-TKI resistance, by EMT introduction and ABCG2 upregulation, and blockade of Hh signaling synergistically increased sensitivity to EGFR-TKIs in primary and secondary resistant NSCLC cells. E-cadherin expression may be a potential biomarker of the suitability of the combined application of an Hh inhibitor and EGFR-TKIs in EGFR-TKI-resistant NSCLCs.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are current standard of care for patients with EGFR mutation and metastatic non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), but most patients using EGFR TKIs acquire resistance later. So, overcoming resistance of EGFR TKIs has become an important issue in the treatment of NSCLC. Previously, therapeutics targeting Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) have been successful in treating several hematologic malignancies. However, the role of BTK in NSCLC is still unknown. In this study, by examining surgical specimens from 80 NSCLC patients and their clinicopathologic parameters, we found significant correlation between high BTK expression and tumor differentiation, p-stage, lymph node metastatic status, maximum tumor size, and poor prognosis of patients. Using two NSCLC cell lines A540 and PC9, we demonstrated that BTK<sup>pos</sup> cells exhibited more stemness (OCT4, SOX2) and EMT (E-Cadherin, Slug) markers than BTK<sup>neg</sup> cells. Knockdown of BTK sensitized the NSCLC cells to Gefitinib. Meanwhile, the second-generation BTK inhibitor Acalabrutinib effectively suppressed SOX2, STAT3/JAK2/Akt axis and potentiated the anti-proliferative effect of Gefitinib and Osimertinib in NSCLC cells, including the T790M H1975 cells. Furthermore, Acalabrutinib and Osimertinib combination exhibited significant tumor growth inhibition of H1975-derived tumors in vivo. Our findings suggested that BTK mediates stemness and EMT properties, and inhibition of BTK potentiates the effect of Gefitinib and Osimertinib in NSCLC cells resistant to TKI. This implies a new approach to treat the NSCLC patients with resistance to previous TKI treatment.
Project description:In the United States, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women. In 2017, 222,500 new cases and 155,870 deaths from lung cancer are estimated to have occurred. A tyrosine kinase receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), is over expressed or mutated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) resulting in increased cell proliferation and survival. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are currently being used as therapy for NSCLC patients, however, they have limited efficacy in NSCLC patients due to acquisition of resistance. This study investigates the role of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in the development of resistance against TKIs in NSCLC. Currently, the role of p120-catenin, Kaiso factor and PRMT-1 in reversal of EMT in T790M mutated and TKI-resistant NSCLC cells is a new line of study. In this investigation we found upregulation of cytoplasmic p120-catenin, which was co-localized with Kaiso factor. In the nucleus, binding of p120-catenin to Kaiso factor initiates transcription by activating EMT-transcription factors such as Snail, Slug, Twist, and ZEB1. PRMT-1 was also found to be upregulated, which induces methylation of Twist and repression of E-cadherin activity, thus promoting EMT. We confirmed that TKI-resistant cells have mesenchymal cell type characteristics based on their cell morphology and gene or protein expression of EMT related proteins. EMT proteins, Vimentin and N-cadherin, displayed increased expression, whereas E-cadherin expression was downregulated. Finally, we found that the knockdown of p120-catenin and PRMT-1 by siRNA or use of a PRMT-1 inhibitor Furamidine increased Erlotinib sensitivity and could reverse EMT to overcome TKI resistance.
Project description:Intratumoral heterogeneity in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mutant mutant non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) explains the mixed responses to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). However, some studies showed tumors with low abundances of EGFR mutation still respond to EGFR-TKI, and the mechanism remained undetermined. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) can transmit antiapoptotic signals between drug-resistant and drug-sensitive cells. Herein, we profiled EVs from EGFR-mutant cells to identify a novel mechanism explaining why heterogenous EGFR-mutant NSCLC patients still respond to EGFR-TKIs. We first demonstrated that the EVs from EGFR-mutant changes the wild-type cells' sensitivity to gefitinib by adding EV directly or coculturing EGFR wild-type (CL1-5) cells and EGFR-mutant (PC9) cells. In animal studies, only the combined treatment of PC9 EV and gefitinib delayed the tumor growth of CL1-5 cells. MicroRNA analysis comparing EV miRNAs from PC9 cells to those from CL1-5 cells showed that mir200 family members are most abundant in PC9 EVs. Furthermore, mir200a and mir200c were found upregulated in plasma EVs from good responders to EGFR-TKIs. Finally, the transfection of CL1-5 cells with miR200c inactivates downstream signaling pathways of EGFR, the EMT pathway, and enhances gefitinib sensitivity. Overall, our results suggest that in heterogeneous EGFR-mutant NSCLC, tumor cells transmit EV miRNAs that may affect sensitivity to EGFR-TKIs and provide potential prognostic biomarkers for EGFR-mutant NSCLC.
Project description:The majority of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients harbor EGFR-activating mutations that can be therapeutically targeted by EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKI), such as erlotinib and gefitinib. Unfortunately, a subset of patients with EGFR mutations are refractory to EGFR-TKIs. Resistance to EGFR inhibitors reportedly involves SRC activation and induction of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we have demonstrated that overexpression of CRIPTO1, an EGF-CFC protein family member, renders EGFR-TKI-sensitive and EGFR-mutated NSCLC cells resistant to erlotinib in culture and in murine xenograft models. Furthermore, tumors from NSCLC patients with EGFR-activating mutations that were intrinsically resistant to EGFR-TKIs expressed higher levels of CRIPTO1 compared with tumors from patients that were sensitive to EGFR-TKIs. Primary NSCLC cells derived from a patient with EGFR-mutated NSCLC that was intrinsically erlotinib resistant were CRIPTO1 positive, but gained erlotinib sensitivity upon loss of CRIPTO1 expression during culture. CRIPTO1 activated SRC and ZEB1 to promote EMT via microRNA-205 (miR-205) downregulation. While miR-205 depletion induced erlotinib resistance, miR-205 overexpression inhibited CRIPTO1-dependent ZEB1 and SRC activation, restoring erlotinib sensitivity. CRIPTO1-induced erlotinib resistance was directly mediated through SRC but not ZEB1; therefore, cotargeting EGFR and SRC synergistically attenuated growth of erlotinib-resistant, CRIPTO1-positive, EGFR-mutated NSCLC cells in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that this combination may overcome intrinsic EGFR-inhibitor resistance in patients with CRIPTO1-positive, EGFR-mutated NSCLC.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor receptor?tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR?TKI), gefitinib, is used widely to treat non?small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with EGFR?activating mutations. Unfortunately, the acquired drug resistance promoted by epithelial?mesenchymal transition (EMT) markedly limits the clinical effects and remains a major barrier to a cure. Our previous isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation?based proteomics analysis revealed that the E?cadherin protein level was markedly upregulated by triptolide (TP). The present study aimed to determine whether TP reverses the gefitinib resistance of human lung cancer cells by regulating EMT. It was revealed that TP combined with gefitinib synergistically inhibited the migration and invasion of lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549; the combination treatment had a significantly better outcome than that of TP and gefitinib alone. Moreover, TP effectively increased the sensitivity of drug resistant A549 cells to gefitinib by upregulating E?cadherin protein expression and downregulating the MMP9, SNAIL, and vimentin expression levels. The dysregulated E?cadherin expression of gefitinib?sensitive cells induced gefitinib resistance, which could be overcome by TP. Finally, TP combined with gefitinib significantly inhibited the growth of xenograft tumors induced using gefitinib?resistant A549 cells, which was associated with EMT reversal and E?cadherin signaling activation in vivo. The present results indicated that the combination of TP and TKIs may be a promising therapeutic strategy to treat patients with NSCLCs harboring EGFR mutations.
Project description:Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is clinically associated with acquired resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). However, the mechanisms promoting EMT in EGFR TKI-resistant NSCLC have not been fully elucidated. Previous studies have suggested that IGF1R signaling is involved in both acquired EGFR TKI resistance in NSCLC and induction of EMT in some types of tumor. In this study, we further explored the role of the IGF1R signaling in the acquisition of EMT phenotype associated with EGFR TKI resistance in mutant-EGFR NSCLC. Compared to gefitinib-sensitive parental cells, gefitinib-resistant (GR) cells displayed an EMT phenotype associated with increased migration and invasion abilities with the concomitant activation of IGF1R and NF-?B p65 signaling. Inhibition of IGF1R or p65 using pharmacological inhibitor or specific siRNA partially restored sensitivity to gefitinib with the concomitant reversal of EMT in GR cells. Conversely, exogenous IGF1 induced both gefitinib resistance and accompanying EMT in parental cells. We also demonstrated that IGF1R could phosphorylate downstream Akt and Erk to activate NF-?B p65. Taken together, our findings indicate that activation of IGF1R/Akt/Erk/NF-?B signaling is linked to the acquisition of EGFR TKI resistance and EMT phenotype in EGFR-mutant NSCLC and could be a novel therapeutic target for advanced NSCLC.
Project description:Several randomized trials have demonstrated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations can achieve favorable clinical outcomes on treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). EGFR mutation is considered as a predictive marker for efficacy of EGFR-TKIs in NSCLC. Here we show miR-200c overexpression was correlated with the epithelial phenotype and sensitivity to gefitinib in EGFR wild-type NSCLC cell lines. Up-regulated miR-200c could regain the sensitivity to gefitinib in the EGFR wild-type cell lines and miR-200c could regulate epithelial to mesenchymal transition through PI3K/AKT and MEK/ERK pathways. NSCLC patients at advanced stage (N=150) who received EGFR-TKIs (gefitinib or erlotinib) as second- or third-line therapy from September 2008 to December 2012 were included in the study. In 66 NSCLC patients with wild-type EGFR, high levels of miR-200c expression was associated with higher disease control rate (DCR), longer progression-free survival (PFS) and longer overall survival (OS) compared with low miR-200c expression subgroup. In the subgroup with EGFR mutation, the trend remained the same but not statistically significant. Overall, these findings indicated that miR-200c might be a predictive biomarker for sensitivity to EGFR-TKIs in advanced NSCLC patients with wild-type EGFR.
Project description:Patients with advanced-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are susceptible to malnutrition and develop folate deficiency (FD). We previously found that folate deprivation induces drug resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma; here, we assessed whether disrupted cytoplasmic folate metabolism could mimic FD-induced metastasis and affect the sensitivity of NSCLC cells to epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs). We examined whether cytosolic folate metabolism in NSCLC cells was disrupted by FD or the folate metabolism blocker pemetrexed for 1-4 weeks. Our results revealed an increase in NF-κB overexpression-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition biomarkers: N-cadherin, vimentin, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), SOX9, and SLUG. This finding suggests that the disruption of folate metabolism can drastically enhance the metastatic properties of NSCLC cells. Cytosolic FD also affected EGFR-TKI cytotoxicity toward NSCLC cells. Because SLUG and N-cadherin are resistance effectors against gefitinib, the effects of SLUG knockdown in folate antagonist-treated CL1-0 cells were evaluated. SLUG knockdown prevented SLUG/NF-κB/SOX9-mediated invasiveness and erlotinib resistance acquisition and significantly reduced pemetrexed-induced gelatinase activity and MMP gene expression. To summarize, our data reveal two unprecedented adverse effects of folate metabolism disruption in NSCLC cells. Thus, the folic acid status of patients with NSCLC under treatment can considerably influence their prognosis.