MEK inhibitors for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.
ABSTRACT: BRAF and KRAS are two key oncogenes in the RAS/RAF/MEK/MAPK signaling pathway. Concomitant mutations in both KRAS and BRAF genes have been identified in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). They lead to the proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis of tumor cells by activating the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway. To date, agents that target RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway have been investigated in NSCLC patients harboring BRAF mutations. BRAF and MEK inhibitors have gained approval for the treatment of patients with NSCLC. According to the reported findings, the combination of MEK inhibitors with chemotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors, epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors or BRAF inhibitors is highly significant for improving clinical efficacy and causing delay in the occurrence of drug resistance. This review summarized the existing experimental results and presented ongoing clinical studies as well. However, further researches need to be conducted to indicate how we can combine other drugs with MEK inhibitors to significantly increase therapeutic effects on patients with lung cancer.
Project description:Multiple myeloma (MM) is a plasma cell malignancy that is still considered to be incurable in most cases. A dominant mutation cluster has been identified in RAS/RAF genes, emphasizing the potential significance of RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling as a therapeutic target. As yet, however, the clinical relevance of this finding is unclear as clinical responses to MEK inhibition in RAS-mutant MM have been mixed. We therefore assessed RAS/RAF mutation status and MEK/ERK pathway activation by both targeted sequencing and phospho-ERK immunohistochemistry in 180 tissue biopsies from 103 patients with newly diagnosed MM (NDMM) and 77 patients with relapsed/refractory MM (rrMM). We found a significant enrichment of RAS/BRAF mutations in rrMM compared to NDMM (P=0.011), which was mainly due to an increase of NRAS mutations (P=0.010). As expected, BRAF mutations were significantly associated with activated downstream signaling. However, only KRAS and not NRAS mutations were associated with pathway activation compared to RAS/BRAF<sup>wt</sup> (P=0.030). More specifically, only KRAS<sup>G12D</sup> and BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> were consistently associated with ERK activation (P<0.001 and P=0.006, respectively). Taken together, these results suggest the need for a more specific stratification strategy consisting of both confirmation of protein-level pathway activation as well as detailed RAS/RAF mutation status to allow for a more precise and more effective application of targeted therapies, for example, with BRAF/MEK inhibitors in MM.
Project description:Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway dysregulation is implicated in >30% of all cancers, rationalizing the development of RAF, MEK and ERK inhibitors. While BRAF and MEK inhibitors improve BRAF mutant melanoma patient outcomes, these inhibitors had limited success in other MAPK dysregulated tumors, with insufficient pathway suppression and likely pathway reactivation. In this study we show that inhibition of either MEK or ERK alone only transiently inhibits the MAPK pathway due to feedback reactivation. Simultaneous targeting of both MEK and ERK nodes results in deeper and more durable suppression of MAPK signaling that is not achievable with any dose of single agent, in tumors where feedback reactivation occurs. Strikingly, combined MEK and ERK inhibition is synergistic in RAS mutant models but only additive in BRAF mutant models where the RAF complex is dissociated from RAS and thus feedback productivity is disabled. We discovered that pathway reactivation in RAS mutant models occurs at the level of CRAF with combination treatment resulting in a markedly more active pool of CRAF. However, distinct from single node targeting, combining MEK and ERK inhibitor treatment effectively blocks the downstream signaling as assessed by transcriptional signatures and phospho-p90RSK. Importantly, these data reveal that MAPK pathway inhibitors whose activity is attenuated due to feedback reactivation can be rescued with sufficient inhibition by using a combination of MEK and ERK inhibitors. The MEK and ERK combination significantly suppresses MAPK pathway output and tumor growth in vivo to a greater extent than the maximum tolerated doses of single agents, and results in improved anti-tumor activity in multiple xenografts as well as in two Kras mutant genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models. Collectively, these data demonstrate that combined MEK and ERK inhibition is functionally unique, yielding greater than additive anti-tumor effects and elucidates a highly effective combination strategy in MAPK-dependent cancer, such as KRAS mutant tumors.
Project description:Oncogenic alterations in the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway drive the growth of a wide spectrum of cancers. While BRAF and MEK inhibitors are efficacious against BRAFV600E-driven cancers, effective targeted therapies are lacking for most cancers driven by other pathway alterations, including non-V600E oncogenic BRAF, RAS GTPase-activating protein (GAP) NF1 (neurofibromin 1) loss and oncogenic KRAS. Here, we show that targeting the SHP2 phosphatase (encoded by PTPN11) with RMC-4550, a small-molecule allosteric inhibitor, is effective in human cancer models bearing RAS-GTP-dependent oncogenic BRAF (for example, class 3 BRAF mutants), NF1 loss or nucleotide-cycling oncogenic RAS (for example, KRASG12C). SHP2 inhibitor treatment decreases oncogenic RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signalling and cancer growth by disrupting SOS1-mediated RAS-GTP loading. Our findings illuminate a critical function for SHP2 in promoting oncogenic RAS/MAPK pathway activation in cancers with RAS-GTP-dependent oncogenic BRAF, NF1 loss and nucleotide-cycling oncogenic KRAS. SHP2 inhibition is a promising molecular therapeutic strategy for patients with cancers bearing these oncogenic drivers.
Project description:Heat shock protein (HSP)90 inhibitors have shown significant anti-tumor activities in preclinical settings in both solid and hematological tumors. We previously reported that the novel, orally available HSP90α/β inhibitor TAS-116 shows significant anti-MM activities. In this study, we further examined the combination effect of TAS-116 with a RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK signaling pathway inhibitor in RAS- or BRAF-mutated MM cell lines. TAS-116 monotherapy significantly inhibited growth of RAS-mutated MM cell lines and was associated with decreased expression of downstream target proteins of the RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK signaling pathway. Moreover, TAS-116 showed synergistic growth inhibitory effects with the farnesyltransferase inhibitor tipifarnib, the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib, and the MEK inhibitor selumetinib. Importantly, treatment with these inhibitors paradoxically enhanced p-C-Raf, p-MEK, and p-ERK activity, which was abrogated by TAS-116. TAS-116 also enhanced dabrafenib-induced MM cytotoxicity associated with mitochondrial damage-induced apoptosis, even in the BRAF-mutated U266 MM cell line. This enhanced apoptosis in RAS-mutated MM triggered by combination treatment was observed even in the presence of bone marrow stromal cells. Taken together, our results provide the rationale for novel combination treatment with HSP90α/β inhibitor and RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK signaling pathway inhibitors to improve outcomes in patients with in RAS- or BRAF-mutated MM.
Project description:MEK inhibitors are clinically active in BRAF(V600E) melanomas but only marginally so in KRAS mutant tumors. Here, we found that MEK inhibitors suppress ERK signaling more potently in BRAF(V600E), than in KRAS mutant tumors. To understand this, we performed an RNAi screen in a KRAS mutant model and found that CRAF knockdown enhanced MEK inhibition. MEK activated by CRAF was less susceptible to MEK inhibitors than when activated by BRAF(V600E). MEK inhibitors induced RAF-MEK complexes in KRAS mutant models, and disrupting such complexes enhanced inhibition of CRAF-dependent ERK signaling. Newer MEK inhibitors target MEK catalytic activity and also impair its reactivation by CRAF, either by disrupting RAF-MEK complexes or by interacting with Ser 222 to prevent MEK phosphorylation by RAF.
Project description:RHEB is a unique member of the RAS superfamily of small GTPases expressed in all tissues and conserved from yeast to humans. Early studies on RHEB indicated a possible RHEB-RAF interaction, but this has not been fully explored. Recent work on cancer genome databases has revealed a reoccurring mutation in RHEB at the Tyr35 position, and a recent study points to the oncogenic potential of this mutant that involves activation of RAF/MEK/ERK signaling. These developments prompted us to reassess the significance of RHEB effect on RAF, and to compare mutant and wild type RHEB.To study RHEB-RAF interaction, and the effect of the Y35N mutation on this interaction, we used transfection, immunoprecipitation, and Western blotting techniques. We generated cell lines stably expressing RHEB WT, RHEB Y35N, and KRAS G12V, and monitored cellular transforming properties through cell proliferation, anchorage independent growth, cell cycle analysis, and foci formation assays.We observe a strong interaction between RHEB and BRAF, but not with CRAF. This interaction is dependent on an intact RHEB effector domain and RHEB-GTP loading status. RHEB overexpression decreases RAF activation of the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway and RHEB knockdown results in an increase in RAF/MEK/ERK activation. RHEB Y35N mutation has decreased interaction with BRAF, and RHEB Y35N cells exhibit greater BRAF/CRAF heterodimerization resulting in increased RAF/MEK/ERK signaling. This leads to cancer transformation of RHEB Y35N stably expressing cell lines, similar to KRAS G12 V expressing cell lines.RHEB interaction with BRAF is crucial for inhibiting RAF/MEK/ERK signaling. The RHEB Y35N mutant sustains RAF/MEK/ERK signaling due to a decreased interaction with BRAF, leading to increased BRAF/CRAF heterodimerization. RHEB Y35N expressing cells undergo cancer transformation due to decreased interaction between RHEB and BRAF resulting in overactive RAF/MEK/ERK signaling. Taken together with the previously established function of RHEB to activate mTORC1 signaling, it appears that RHEB performs a dual function; one is to suppress the RAF/MEK/ERK signaling and the other is to activate mTORC1 signaling.
Project description:Melanoma is a disease characterized by lesions that activate ERK. Although 70% of cutaneous melanomas harbor activating mutations in the BRAF and NRAS genes, the alterations that drive tumor progression in the remaining 30% are largely undefined. Vemurafenib, a selective inhibitor of RAF kinases, has clinical utility restricted to BRAF-mutant tumors. MEK inhibitors, which have shown clinical activity in NRAS-mutant melanoma, may be effective in other ERK pathway-dependent settings. Here, we investigated a panel of melanoma cell lines wild type for BRAF and NRAS to determine the genetic alteration driving their transformation and their dependence on ERK signaling in order to elucidate a candidate set for MEK inhibitor treatment. A cohort of the BRAF/RAS wild type cell lines with high levels of RAS-GTP had loss of NF1, a RAS GTPase activating protein. In these cell lines, the MEK inhibitor PD0325901 inhibited ERK phosphorylation, but also relieved feedback inhibition of RAS, resulting in induction of pMEK and a rapid rebound in ERK signaling. In contrast, the MEK inhibitor trametinib impaired the adaptive response of cells to ERK inhibition, leading to sustained suppression of ERK signaling and significant antitumor effects. Notably, alterations in NF1 frequently co-occurred with RAS and BRAF alterations in melanoma. In the setting of BRAF(V600E), NF1 loss abrogated negative feedback on RAS activation, resulting in elevated activation of RAS-GTP and resistance to RAF, but not MEK, inhibitors. We conclude that loss of NF1 is common in cutaneous melanoma and is associated with RAS activation, MEK-dependence, and resistance to RAF inhibition.
Project description:Tumors with mutant BRAF and some with mutant RAS are dependent upon ERK signaling for proliferation, and their growth is suppressed by MAPK/ERK kinase (MEK) inhibitors. In contrast, tumor cells with human EGF receptor (HER) kinase activation proliferate in a MEK-independent manner. These findings have led to the development of RAF and MEK inhibitors as anticancer agents. Like MEK inhibitors, the RAF inhibitor PLX4032 inhibits the proliferation of BRAF(V600E) tumor cells but not that of HER kinase-dependent tumors. However, tumors with RAS mutation that are sensitive to MEK inhibition are insensitive to PLX4032. MEK inhibitors inhibit ERK phosphorylation in all normal and tumor cells, whereas PLX4032 inhibits ERK signaling only in tumor cells expressing BRAF(V600E). In contrast, the drug activates MEK and ERK phosphorylation in cells with wild-type BRAF. In BRAF(V600E) tumor cells, MEK and RAF inhibitors affect the expression of a common set of genes. PLX4032 inhibits ERK signaling output in mutant BRAF cells, whereas it transiently activates the expression of these genes in tumor cells with wild-type RAF. Thus, PLX4032 inhibits ERK signaling output in a mutant BRAF-selective manner. These data explain why the drug selectively inhibits the growth of mutant BRAF tumors and suggest that it will not cause toxicity resulting from the inhibition of ERK signaling in normal cells. This selectivity may lead to a broader therapeutic index and help explain the greater antitumor activity observed with this drug than with MEK inhibitors.
Project description:KRAS mutation is a hallmark of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) but remains an intractable pharmacologic target. Consequently, defining RAS effector pathway(s) required for PDA initiation and maintenance is critical to improve treatment of this disease. Here, we show that expression of BRAF(V600E), but not PIK3CA(H1047R), in the mouse pancreas leads to pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions. Moreover, concomitant expression of BRAF(V600E) and TP53(R270H) result in lethal PDA. We tested pharmacologic inhibitors of RAS effectors against multiple human PDA cell lines. Mitogen-activated protein (MAP)/extracellular signal-regulated (ERK) kinase (MEK) inhibition was highly effective both in vivo and in vitro and was synergistic with AKT inhibition in most cell lines tested. We show that RAF?MEK?ERK signaling is central to the initiation and maintenance of PDA and to rational combination strategies in this disease. These results emphasize the value of leveraging multiple complementary experimental systems to prioritize pathways for effective intervention strategies in PDA.PDA is diffi cult to treat, in large part, due to recurrent mutations in the KRAS gene. Here, we defi ne rational treatment approaches for the disease achievable today with existing drug combinations by thorough genetic and pharmacologic dissection of the major KRAS effector pathways, RAF?MEK?ERK and phosphoinositide 3?-kinase (PI3'K)?AKT.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Using a panel of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) lines, we show here that MAP-ERK kinase (MEK) and RAF inhibitors are selectively toxic for the KRAS-mutant genotype, whereas phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), AKT, and mTOR inhibitors are not. IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) tyrosine kinase inhibitors also show selectivity for KRAS-mutant lung cancer lines. Combinations of IGF1R and MEK inhibitors resulted in strengthened inhibition of KRAS-mutant lines and also showed improved effectiveness in autochthonous mouse models of Kras-induced NSCLC. PI3K pathway activity is dependent on basal IGF1R activity in KRAS-mutant, but not wild-type, lung cancer cell lines. KRAS is needed for both MEK and PI3K pathway activity in KRAS-mutant, but not wild-type, lung cancer cells, whereas acute activation of KRAS causes stimulation of PI3K dependent upon IGF1R kinase activity. Coordinate direct input of both KRAS and IGF1R is thus required to activate PI3K in KRAS-mutant lung cancer cells. SIGNIFICANCE:It has not yet been possible to target RAS proteins directly, so combined targeting of effect or pathways acting downstream of RAS, including RAF/MEK and PI3K/AKT, has been the most favored approach to the treatment of RAS -mutant cancers. This work sheds light on the ability of RASto activate PI3K through direct interaction, indicating that input is also required from a receptor tyrosinekinase, IGF1R in the case of KRAS -mutant lung cancer. This suggests potential novel combination therapeutic strategies for NSCLC.