Conformational landscape of the epidermal growth factor receptor kinase reveals a mutant specific allosteric pocket.
ABSTRACT: Activating mutations within the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase domain give rise to several cancers including Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). Small molecule inhibitors targeted at these mutants have proven to be clinically successful drugs. These molecules are ATP competitive and rapidly result in the emergence of resistance. Recently Jia et al. [Nature, 2016, 534, 129-132] reported a small molecule inhibitor (called EAI045) that binds at an allosteric pocket, does not compete with ATP and displays high potency and selectivity towards certain activating mutants (L858R, T790M, L858R/T790M) of EGFR, with IC50 values ranging from 3 nM to 49 nM. We present here a study combining extensive molecular dynamics simulations with binding assays to provide a structural basis underlying the mechanism of binding of this molecule. It appears that in mutants, conformational destabilization of the short helix (that carries Leu858 in the wildtype), is key to the exposure of the allosteric pocket which otherwise is occluded by a set of sidechains including L858. We extend this hypothesis to show that a similar mechanism would enable the molecule to inhibit EGFRL861Q which is another oncogenic mutant and validate this with binding experiments. The screening of the human structural kinome revealed at least 12 other oncogenic kinases which carry at least one activating mutant in this disorder-prone region and hence would be amenable to allosteric inhibition by molecules such as EAI045. Our study characterizes a druggable allosteric pocket which appears to be specific to certain oncogenic mutants of the EGFR and holds therapeutic potential.
Project description:Lung cancers caused by activating mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are initially responsive to small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), but the efficacy of these agents is often limited because of the emergence of drug resistance conferred by a second mutation, T790M. Threonine 790 is the "gatekeeper" residue, an important determinant of inhibitor specificity in the ATP binding pocket. The T790M mutation has been thought to cause resistance by sterically blocking binding of TKIs such as gefitinib and erlotinib, but this explanation is difficult to reconcile with the fact that it remains sensitive to structurally similar irreversible inhibitors. Here, we show by using a direct binding assay that T790M mutants retain low-nanomolar affinity for gefitinib. Furthermore, we show that the T790M mutation activates WT EGFR and that introduction of the T790M mutation increases the ATP affinity of the oncogenic L858R mutant by more than an order of magnitude. The increased ATP affinity is the primary mechanism by which the T790M mutation confers drug resistance. Crystallographic analysis of the T790M mutant shows how it can adapt to accommodate tight binding of diverse inhibitors, including the irreversible inhibitor HKI-272, and also suggests a structural mechanism for catalytic activation. We conclude that the T790M mutation is a "generic" resistance mutation that will reduce the potency of any ATP-competitive kinase inhibitor and that irreversible inhibitors overcome this resistance simply through covalent binding, not as a result of an alternative binding mode.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-directed tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib, erlotinib and afatinib are approved treatments for non-small cell lung cancers harbouring activating mutations in the EGFR kinase, but resistance arises rapidly, most frequently owing to the secondary T790M mutation within the ATP site of the receptor. Recently developed mutant-selective irreversible inhibitors are highly active against the T790M mutant, but their efficacy can be compromised by acquired mutation of C797, the cysteine residue with which they form a key covalent bond. All current EGFR TKIs target the ATP-site of the kinase, highlighting the need for therapeutic agents with alternative mechanisms of action. Here we describe the rational discovery of EAI045, an allosteric inhibitor that targets selected drug-resistant EGFR mutants but spares the wild-type receptor. The crystal structure shows that the compound binds an allosteric site created by the displacement of the regulatory C-helix in an inactive conformation of the kinase. The compound inhibits L858R/T790M-mutant EGFR with low-nanomolar potency in biochemical assays. However, as a single agent it is not effective in blocking EGFR-driven proliferation in cells owing to differential potency on the two subunits of the dimeric receptor, which interact in an asymmetric manner in the active state. We observe marked synergy of EAI045 with cetuximab, an antibody therapeutic that blocks EGFR dimerization, rendering the kinase uniformly susceptible to the allosteric agent. EAI045 in combination with cetuximab is effective in mouse models of lung cancer driven by EGFR(L858R/T790M) and by EGFR(L858R/T790M/C797S), a mutant that is resistant to all currently available EGFR TKIs. More generally, our findings illustrate the utility of purposefully targeting allosteric sites to obtain mutant-selective inhibitors.
Project description:Allosteric kinase inhibitors represent a promising new therapeutic strategy for targeting kinases harboring oncogenic driver mutations in cancers. Here, we report the discovery, optimization, and structural characterization of allosteric mutant-selective EGFR inhibitors comprising a 5,10-dihydro-11H-dibenzo[b,e][1,4]diazepin-11-one scaffold. Our structure-based medicinal chemistry effort yielded an inhibitor (3) of the EGFR(L858R/T790M) and EGFR(L858R/T790M/C797S) mutants with an IC50 of ?10 nM and high selectivity, as assessed by kinome profiling. Further efforts to develop allosteric dibenzodiazepinone inhibitors may serve as the basis for new therapeutic options for targeting drug-resistant EGFR mutations.
Project description:Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients carrying specific EGFR kinase activating mutations (L858R, delE746-A750) respond well to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). However, drug resistance develops within a year. In about 50% of such patients, acquired drug resistance is attributed to the enrichment of a constitutively active point mutation within the EGFR kinase domain (T790M). To date, differential drug-binding and altered ATP affinities by EGFR mutants have been shown to be responsible for differential TKI response. As it has been reported that EGFR stability plays a role in the survival of EGFR driven cancers, we hypothesized that differential TKI-induced receptor degradation between the sensitive L858R and delE746-A750 and the resistant T790M may also play a role in drug responsiveness. To explore this, we have utilized an EGFR-null CHO overexpression system as well as NSCLC cell lines expressing various EGFR mutants and determined the effects of erlotinib treatment. We found that erlotinib inhibits EGFR phosphorylation in both TKI sensitive and resistant cells, but the protein half-lives of L858R and delE746-A750 were significantly shorter than L858R/T790M. Third generation EGFR kinase inhibitor (AZD9291) inhibits the growth of L858R/T790M-EGFR driven cells and also induces EGFR degradation. Erlotinib treatment induced polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation, primarily in a c-CBL-independent manner, in TKI sensitive L858R and delE746-A750 mutants when compared to the L858R/T790M mutant, which correlated with drug sensitivity. These data suggest an additional mechanism of TKI resistance, and we postulate that agents that degrade L858R/T790M-EGFR protein may overcome TKI resistance.
Project description:AIM:To identify non-quinazoline kinase inhibitors effective against drug resistant mutants of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). METHODS:A kinase inhibitor library was subjected to screening for specific inhibition pertaining to the in vitro kinase activation of EGFR with the gatekeeper mutation T790M, which is resistant to small molecular weight tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) for EGFR in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). This inhibitory effect was confirmed by measuring autophosphorylation of EGFR T790M/L858R in NCI-H1975 cells, an NSCLC cell line harboring the gatekeeper mutation. The effects of a candidate compound, Janus kinase 3 (JAK3) inhibitor VI, on cell proliferation were evaluated using the MTT assay and were compared between T790M-positive and -negative lung cancer cell lines. JAK3 inhibitor VI was modeled into the ATP-binding pocket of EGFR T790M/L858R. Potential physical interactions between the compound and kinase domains of wild-type (WT) or mutant EGFRs or JAK3 were estimated by calculating binding energy. The gatekeeper residues of EGFRs and JAKs were aligned to discuss the similarities among EGFR T790M and JAKs. RESULTS:We found that JAK3 inhibitor VI, a known inhibitor for JAK3 tyrosine kinase, selectively inhibits EGFR T790M/L858R, but has weaker inhibitory effects on the WT EGFR in vitro. JAK3 inhibitor VI also specifically reduced autophosphorylation of EGFR T790M/L858R in NCI-H1975 cells upon EGF stimulation, but did not show the inhibitory effect on WT EGFR in A431 cells. Furthermore, JAK3 inhibitor VI suppressed the proliferation of NCI-H1975 cells, but showed limited inhibitory effects on the WT EGFR-expressing cell lines A431 and A549. A docking simulation between JAK3 inhibitor VI and the ATP-binding pocket of EGFR T790M/L858R predicted a potential binding status with hydrogen bonds. Estimated binding energy of JAK3 inhibitor VI to EGFR T790M/L858R was more stable than its binding energy to the WT EGFR. Amino acid sequence alignments revealed that the gatekeeper residues of JAK family kinases are methionine in WT, similar to EGFR T790M, suggesting that TKIs for JAKs may also be effective for EGFR T790M. CONCLUSION:Our findings demonstrate that JAK3 inhibitor VI is a gatekeeper mutant selective TKI and offer a strategy to search for new EGFR T790M inhibitors.
Project description:Activating mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase are frequently found in many cancers. It has been suggested that changes in the equilibrium between its active and inactive conformations are linked to its oncogenic potential. Here, we quantify the effects of some of the most common single (L858R and T790M) and double (T790M-L858R) oncogenic mutations on the conformational free-energy landscape of the EGFR kinase domain by using massive molecular dynamics simulations together with parallel tempering, metadynamics, and one of the best force-fields available. Whereas the wild-type EGFR catalytic domain monomer is mostly found in an inactive conformation, our results show a clear shift toward the active conformation for all of the mutants. The L858R mutation stabilizes the active conformation at the expense of the inactive conformation and rigidifies the ?C-helix. The T790M gatekeeper mutant favors activation by stabilizing a hydrophobic cluster. Finally, T790M with L858R shows a significant positive epistasis effect. This combination not only stabilizes the active conformation, but in nontrivial ways changes the free-energy landscape lowering the transition barriers.
Project description:Treatment of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) harboring primary EGFR oncogenic mutations such as L858R and exon 19 deletion delE746_A750 (Del-19) using gefitinib/erlotinib ultimately fails due to the emergence of T790M mutation. Though WZ4002/CO-1686/AZD9291 are effective in overcoming EGFR T790M by targeting Cys797 via covalent bonding, their efficacy is again limited due to the emergence of C797S mutation. New agents effectively inhibiting EGFR T790M without covalent linkage through Cys 797 may solve this problem. We presented here crystal structures of EGFR activating/drug-resistant mutants in complex with a panel of reversible inhibitors along with mutagenesis and enzyme kinetic data. These data revealed a previously un-described hydrophobic clamp structure in the EGFR kinase which may be exploited to facilitate development of next generation drugs targeting EGFR T790M with or without concomitant C797S. Interestingly, mutations in the hydrophobic clamp that hinder drug binding often also weaken ATP binding and/or abolish kinase activity, thus do not readily result in resistance to the drugs.
Project description:In this paper, we describe the discovery and optimization of a series of noncovalent reversible epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors of EGFRL858R/T790M/C797S. One of the most promising compounds, 25g, inhibited the enzymatic activity of EGFRL858R/T790M/C797S with an IC50 value of 2.2 nM. Cell proliferation assays showed that 25g effectively and selectively inhibited the growth of EGFRL858R/T790M/C797S-dependent cells. This series of compounds, which occupy both the ATP binding site and the allosteric site of the EGFR kinase, may serve as a basis for the development of fourth-generation EGFR inhibitors for L858R/T790M/C797S mutants.
Project description:Kinase domain mutations of the EGF receptor (EGFR) are common oncogenic events in lung adenocarcinoma. Here, we explore the dependency upon asymmetric dimerization of the kinase domain for activation of lung cancer-derived EGFR mutants. We show that whereas wild-type EGFR and the L858R mutant require dimerization for activation and oncogenic transformation, the exon 19 deletion, exon 20 insertion, and L858R/T790M EGFR mutants do not require dimerization. In addition, treatment with the monoclonal antibody, cetuximab, shrinks mouse lung tumors induced by the dimerization-dependent L858R mutant, but exerts only a modest effect on tumors driven by dimerization-independent EGFR mutants. These data imply that different EGFR mutants show differential requirements for dimerization and that disruption of dimerization may be among the antitumor mechanisms of cetuximab.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a well-established target for cancer treatment. EGFR tyrosine kinase (TK) inhibitors, such as gefinitib and erlotinib, have been developed as anti-cancer drugs. Although non-small cell lung carcinoma with an activating EGFR mutation, L858R, responds well to gefinitib and erlotinib, tumors with a doubly mutated EGFR, T790M-L858R, acquire resistance to these drugs. The C. elegans EGFR homolog LET-23 and its downstream signaling pathway have been studied extensively to provide insight into regulatory mechanisms conserved from C. elegans to humans. To develop an in vivo screening system for potential cancer drugs targeting specific EGFR mutants, we expressed three LET-23 chimeras in which the TK domain was replaced with either the human wild-type TK domain (LET-23::hEGFR-TK), a TK domain with the L858R mutation (LET-23::hEGFR-TK[L858R]), or a TK domain with the T790M-L858R mutations (LET-23::hEGFR-TK[T790M-L858R]) in C. elegans vulval cells using the let-23 promoter. The wild-type hEGFR-TK chimeric protein rescued the let-23 mutant phenotype, and the activating mutant hEGFR-TK chimeras induced a multivulva (Muv) phenotype in a wild-type C. elegans background. The anti-cancer drugs gefitinib and erlotinib suppressed the Muv phenotype in LET-23::hEGFR-TK[L858R]-expressing transgenic animals, but not in LET-23::hEGFR-TK[T790M-L858R] transgenic animals. As a pilot screen, 8,960 small chemicals were tested for Muv suppression, and AG1478 (an EGFR-TK inhibitor) and U0126 (a MEK inhibitor) were identified as potential inhibitors of EGFR-mediated biological function. In conclusion, transgenic C. elegans expressing chimeric LET-23::hEGFR-TK proteins are a model system that can be used in mutation-specific screens for new anti-cancer drugs.