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Repression of AXL expression by AP-1/JNK blockage overcomes resistance to PI3Ka therapy.


ABSTRACT: AXL overexpression is a common resistance mechanism to anti-cancer therapies, including the resistance to BYL719 (Alpelisib) - the p110α isoform specific inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) - in esophagus and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC, HNSCC respectively). However, the mechanisms underlying AXL overexpression in resistance to BYL719 remain elusive. Here we demonstrated that the AP-1 transcription factors, c-JUN and c-FOS, regulate AXL overexpression in HNSCC and ESCC. The expression of AXL was correlated with that of c-JUN both in HNSCC patients and in HNSCC and ESCC cell lines. Silencing of c-JUN and c-FOS expression in tumor cells downregulated AXL expression and enhanced the sensitivity of human papilloma virus positive (HPVPos) and negative (HPVNeg) tumor cells to BYL719 in vitro. Blocking of the c-JUN N-terminal kinase (JNK) using SP600125 in combination with BYL719 showed a synergistic anti-proliferative effect in vitro, which was accompanied by AXL downregulation and potent inhibition of the mTOR pathway. In vivo, the BYL719-SP600125 drug combination led to the arrest of tumor growth in cell line-derived and patient-derived xenograft models, and in syngeneic head and neck murine cancer models. Collectively, our data suggests that JNK inhibition in combination with anti-PI3K therapy is a new therapeutic strategy that should be tested in HPVPos and HPVNeg HNSCC and ESCC patients.

SUBMITTER: Badarni M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6538319 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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