SLC36A1-mTORC1 signaling drives acquired resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors.
ABSTRACT: The cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) kinase is dysregulated in melanoma, highlighting it as a potential therapeutic target. CDK4/6 inhibitors are being evaluated in trials for melanoma and additional cancers. While beneficial, resistance to therapy is a concern, and the molecular mechanisms of such resistance remain undefined. We demonstrate that reactivation of mammalian target of rapamycin 1 (mTORC1) signaling through increased expression of the amino acid transporter, solute carrier family 36 member 1 (SLC36A1), drives resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors. Increased expression of SLC36A1 reflects two distinct mechanisms: (i) Rb loss, which drives SLC36A1 via reduced suppression of E2f; (ii) fragile X mental retardation syndrome-associated protein 1 overexpression, which promotes SLC36A1 translation and subsequently mTORC1. Last, we demonstrate that a combination of a CDK4/6 inhibitor with an mTORC1 inhibitor has increased therapeutic efficacy in vivo, providing an important avenue for improved therapeutic intervention in aggressive melanoma.
Project description:Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) inhibitors are an established treatment in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and are currently in clinical development in melanoma, a tumor that exhibits high rates of CDK4 activation. We analyzed melanoma cells with acquired resistance to the CDK4/6 inhibitor palbociclib and demonstrate that the activity of PRMT5, a protein arginine methyltransferase and indirect target of CDK4, is essential for CDK4/6 inhibitor sensitivity. By indirectly suppressing PRMT5 activity, palbociclib alters the pre-mRNA splicing of MDM4, a negative regulator of p53, leading to decreased MDM4 protein expression and subsequent p53 activation. In turn, p53 induces p21, leading to inhibition of CDK2, the main kinase substituting for CDK4/6 and a key driver of resistance to palbociclib. Loss of the ability of palbociclib to regulate the PRMT5-MDM4 axis leads to resistance. Importantly, combining palbociclib with the PRMT5 inhibitor GSK3326595 enhances the efficacy of palbociclib in treating naive and resistant models and also delays the emergence of resistance. Our studies have uncovered a mechanism of action of CDK4/6 inhibitors in regulating the MDM4 oncogene and the tumor suppressor, p53. Furthermore, we have established that palbociclib inhibition of the PRMT5-MDM4 axis is essential for robust melanoma cell sensitivity and provide preclinical evidence that coinhibition of CDK4/6 and PRMT5 is an effective and well-tolerated therapeutic strategy. Overall, our data provide a strong rationale for further investigation of novel combinations of CDK4/6 and PRMT5 inhibitors, not only in melanoma but other tumor types, including breast, pancreatic, and esophageal carcinoma.
Project description:Using transgenic mouse models, cell line-based functional studies, and clinical specimens, we show that cyclin D1/CDK4 mediate resistance to targeted therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer. This is overcome using CDK4/6 inhibitors. Inhibition of CDK4/6 not only suppresses Rb phosphorylation, but also reduces TSC2 phosphorylation and thus partially attenuates mTORC1 activity. This relieves feedback inhibition of upstream EGFR family kinases, resensitizing tumors to EGFR/HER2 blockade. Consequently, dual inhibition of EGFR/HER2 and CDK4/6 invokes a more potent suppression of TSC2 phosphorylation and hence mTORC1/S6K/S6RP activity. The suppression of both Rb and S6RP enhances G1 arrest and a phenotype resembling cellular senescence. In vivo, CDK4/6 inhibitors sensitize patient-derived xenograft tumors to HER2-targeted therapies and delay tumor recurrence in a transgenic model of HER2-positive breast cancer.
Project description:Intrinsic resistance of unknown mechanism impedes the clinical utility of inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6i) in malignancies other than breast cancer. Here, we used melanoma patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) to study the mechanisms for CDK4/6i resistance in preclinical settings. We observed that melanoma PDXs resistant to CDK4/6i frequently displayed activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT pathway, and inhibition of this pathway improved CDK4/6i response in a p21-dependent manner. We showed that a target of p21, CDK2, was necessary for proliferation in CDK4/6i-treated cells. Upon treatment with CDK4/6i, melanoma cells up-regulated cyclin D1, which sequestered p21 and another CDK inhibitor, p27, leaving a shortage of p21 and p27 available to bind and inhibit CDK2. Therefore, we tested whether induction of p21 in resistant melanoma cells would render them responsive to CDK4/6i. Because p21 is transcriptionally driven by p53, we coadministered CDK4/6i with a murine double minute (MDM2) antagonist to stabilize p53, allowing p21 accumulation. This resulted in improved antitumor activity in PDXs and in murine melanoma. Furthermore, coadministration of CDK4/6 and MDM2 antagonists with standard of care therapy caused tumor regression. Notably, the molecular features associated with response to CDK4/6 and MDM2 inhibitors in PDXs were recapitulated by an ex vivo organotypic slice culture assay, which could potentially be adopted in the clinic for patient stratification. Our findings provide a rationale for cotargeting CDK4/6 and MDM2 in melanoma.
Project description:Combinatorial inhibition of MEK1/2 and CDK4/6 is currently undergoing clinical investigation in NRAS-mutant melanoma. To prospectively map the landscape of resistance to this investigational regimen, we utilized a series of gain- and loss-of-function forward genetic screens to identify modulators of resistance to clinical inhibitors of MEK1/2 and CDK4/6 alone and in combination. First, we identified NRAS-mutant melanoma cell lines that were dependent on NRAS for proliferation and sensitive to MEK1/2 and CDK4/6 combination treatment. We then used a genome-scale ORF overexpression screen and a CRISPR knockout screen to identify modulators of resistance to each inhibitor alone or in combination. These orthogonal screening approaches revealed concordant means of achieving resistance to this therapeutic modality, including tyrosine kinases, RAF, RAS, AKT, and PI3K signaling. Activated KRAS was sufficient to cause resistance to combined MEK/CDK inhibition and to replace genetic depletion of oncogenic NRAS. In summary, our comprehensive functional genetic screening approach revealed modulation of resistance to the inhibition of MEK1/2, CDK4/6, or their combination in NRAS-mutant melanoma. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings reveal that NRAS-mutant melanomas can acquire resistance to genetic ablation of NRAS or combination MEK1/2 and CDK4/6 inhibition by upregulating activity of the RTK-RAS-RAF and RTK-PI3K-AKT signaling cascade.