Personalised therapy with MEK inhibition leads to a sustained complete response in an adolescent patient with a recurrent malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor
ABSTRACT: The prognosis of recurrent malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST) is dismal, with surgical resection being the only definitive salvage therapy. Treatment with chemo-radiation approaches has not significantly improved patient outcomes. Similarly, trials of therapies targeting MPNST genomic drivers have thus far been unsuccessful. Improved understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of MPNST indicates frequent activation of the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) cell signaling pathway. MEK inhibitors have shown activity in preclinical studies; however, their clinical efficacy has not been reported to date. We describe here a case of sustained complete response to MEK inhibition in an adolescent patient with a recurrent metastatic MPNST with multiple alterations in the MAPK pathway, guided by a precision oncology approach.
Project description:Dysregulation of the receptor tyrosine kinase AXL is known to promote cancer cell growth and survival in many sarcomas, including the rare subtype, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). MPNSTs are largely chemoresistant and carry a poor prognosis. AXL is an attractive potential therapeutic target, as it is aberrantly expressed, and its activation may be an early event in MPNST. However, the effect of AXL inhibition on MPNST development and progression is not known. Here, we investigated the role of AXL in MPNST development and the effects of AXL and MEK1/2 co-inhibition on MPNSTs. We used western blotting to examine AXL expression and activation in MPNST cell lines. We analyzed the effects of exogenous growth arrest-specific 6 (GAS6) expression on downstream signaling and the proliferation, migration, and invasion of MPNST cells. The effect of AXL knockdown with or without mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibition on downstream signal transduction and tumorigenesis was also examined <i>in vivo</i> and <i>in vitro</i>. We found that AXL knockdown increased MAPK pathway signaling. This compensation, in turn, abrogated the antitumorigenic effects linked to AXL knockdown <i>in vivo</i>. AXL knockdown, combined with pharmacological MEK inhibition, reduced the proliferation and increased the apoptosis of MPNST cells both <i>in vitro</i> and <i>in vivo</i>. The pharmacological co-inhibition of AXL and MEK1/2 reduced MPNST volumes. Together these findings suggest that AXL inhibition enhances the sensitivity of MPNST to other small molecule inhibitors. We conclude that combination therapy with AXL inhibitor may be a therapeutic option for MPNST.
Project description:Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) is a common genetic disorder and cancer predisposition syndrome (1:3000 births) caused by mutations in the tumor suppressor gene NF1. NF1 encodes neurofibromin, a negative regulator of the Ras signaling pathway. Individuals with NF1 often develop benign tumors of the peripheral nervous system (neurofibromas), originating from the Schwann cell linage, some of which progress further to malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). Treatment options for neurofibromas and MPNSTs are extremely limited, relying largely on surgical resection and cytotoxic chemotherapy. Identification of novel therapeutic targets in both benign neurofibromas and MPNSTs is critical for improved patient outcomes and quality of life. Recent clinical trials conducted in patients with NF1 for the treatment of symptomatic plexiform neurofibromas using inhibitors of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK) have shown very promising results. However, MEK inhibitors do not work in all patients and have significant side effects. In addition, preliminary evidence suggests single agent use of MEK inhibitors for MPNST treatment will fail. Here, we describe the preclinical efforts that led to the identification of MEK inhibitors as promising therapeutics for the treatment of NF1-related neoplasia and possible reasons they lack single agent efficacy in the treatment of MPNSTs. In addition, we describe work to find targets other than MEK for treatment of MPNST. These have come from studies of RAS biochemistry, in vitro drug screening, forward genetic screens for Schwann cell tumors, and synthetic lethal screens in cells with oncogenic RAS gene mutations. Lastly, we discuss new approaches to exploit drug screening and synthetic lethality with NF1 loss of function mutations in human Schwann cells using CRISPR/Cas9 technology.
Project description:PURPOSE:Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) is a rare sarcoma that lacks effective therapeutic strategies. We gain insight into the most recurrent genetically altered pathways with the purpose of scanning possible therapeutic targets. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:We conducted a microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization profiling of two cohorts of primary MPNST tissue samples including 25 patients treated at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and 26 patients from Tianjin Cancer Hospital. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and cell biology detection and validation were carried out on human MPNST tissues and cell lines. RESULTS:Genomic characterization of 51 MPNST tissue samples identified several frequently amplified regions harboring 2,599 genes and regions of deletion including 4,901 genes. At the pathway level, we identified a significant enrichment of copy number-altering events in the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) pathway, including frequent amplifications of the IGF1R gene itself. To validate the IGF1R pathway as a potential target in MPNSTs, we first confirmed that high IGF1R protein correlated with worse tumor-free survival in an independent set of samples using IHC. Two MPNST cell lines (ST88-14 and STS26T) were used to determine the effect of attenuating IGF1R. Inhibition of IGF1R in ST88-14 cells using siRNAs or an IGF1R inhibitor, MK-0646, led to significant decreases in cell proliferation, invasion, and migration accompanied by attenuation of the PI3K/AKT and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. CONCLUSION:These integrated genomic and molecular studies provide evidence that the IGF1R pathway is a potential therapeutic target for patients with MPNST.
Project description:Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) is a type of soft-tissue sarcoma strongly associated with dysfunction in neurofibromin; an inhibitor of the RAS pathway. We performed high-throughput screening of an array of FDA approved and promising agents in clinical development both alone and in combination at physiologically achievable concentrations against a panel of established MPNST cell line models. We found that drugs targeting a variety of factors in the RAS pathway can effectively lead to cell death in vitro with considerable drug combination synergy in regimens that target MEK or mTOR. We observed that the degree of relative sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents was associated with the status of neurofibromin in these cell line models. Using a combination of agents that target MEK and mTORC1/2, we effectively silenced RAS/PI3K/MEK/mTOR signaling in vitro. Moreover, we employed RNAi against NF1 to establish that MPNST drug sensitivity is directly proportional to relative level of intracellular neurofibromin. Thus, two-drug combinations that target MEK and mTORC1/2 are most effective in halting the RAS signaling cascade, and the relative success of this and related small molecule interventions in MPNSTs may be predicated upon the molecular status of neurofibromin.
Project description:Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are devastating sarcomas for which no effective medical therapies are available. Over 50% of MPSNTs are associated with mutations in NF1 tumor suppressor gene, resulting in activation of Ras and its effectors, including the Raf/Mek/Erk and PI3K/Akt/mTORC1 signaling cascades, and also the WNT/?-catenin pathway. As Group I p21-activated kinases (Group I Paks, PAK1/2/3) have been shown to modulate Ras-driven oncogenesis, we asked if these enzymes might regulate signaling in MPNSTs. In this study we found a strong positive correlation between the activity of PAK1/2/3 and the stage of human MPNSTs. We determined that reducing Group I Pak activity diminished MPNST cell proliferation and motility, and that these effects were not accompanied by significant blockade of the Raf/Mek/Erk pathway, but rather by reductions in Akt and ?-catenin activity. Using the small molecule PAK1/2/3 inhibitor Frax1036 and the MEK1/2 inhibitor PD0325901, we showed that the combination of these two agents synergistically inhibited MPNST cell growth in vitro and dramatically decreased local and metastatic MPNST growth in animal models. Taken together, these data provide new insights into MPNST signaling deregulation and suggest that co-targeting of PAK1/2/3 and MEK1/2 may be effective in the treatment of patients with MPNSTs.
Project description:Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) is an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma. To more fully characterize the genomic landscape of this tumor type, we performed next generation sequencing studies for mutational and copy number analysis. We analyzed whole exome sequencing data from 12 MPNST and SNP arrays for a subset of these. We additionally conducted a literature review of prior next generation sequencing studies in this disease and compared to the current study. We report recurrent mutations in NF1, SUZ12, EED, TP53 and CDKN2A in our study cohort. Combined with prior studies, we calculate the disease specific incidence of mutation in these genes to be: NF1 (56/64?=?87.5%). SUZ12 (69/123?=?56.1%), EED (40/123?=?32.5%), TP53 (29/72?=?40.3%), and CDKN2A (54/72?=?75.0%). Notably, we also identified frequent Ras pathway activating somatic mutations outside of these previously reported recurrently mutated genes. Five of the 12 MPNST in our cohort (42%) contained such a mutation. In conclusion, our study adds to the growing understanding of the genomic complexity of MPNST. We report a previously underappreciated frequency and variety of secondary or tertiary Ras pathway activating mutations, though not highly recurrent in a single gene.
Project description:Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) caused by NF1 gene mutation is a commonly inherited autosomal dominant disorder. Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), a type of aggressive sarcoma, are a major cause of mortality in NF1 patients. The malignant transformation of benign plexiform neurofibromas (PNs) to MPNSTs is a marked peculiarity in NF1 patients, yet the pathogenesis remains poorly understood. We found that an actin-associated protein transgelin (SM22) was highly expressed in NF1-deficient MPNST tissues compared to NF1-deficient PN tissues using immunohistological staining and primary cultured MPNST cells in western blot analysis. We further found that this transgelin upregulation was caused by increased transcriptional expression of the TAGLN gene encoding transgelin. Comparison of DNA methylation values in the promoter and subpromoter regions of the TAGLN gene in three types of NF1-deficient primary-cultured cells, derived from an NF1 patient's normal phenotype, a benign PN and MPNST tissues, revealed that the TAGLN gene was hypomethylated in the MPNST cells. Next, to determine the functional role of transgelin in MPNST pathogenesis, we manipulated the TAGLN gene expression and investigated the alteration of the RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway in the normal-phenotypic and malignant tumor cells. The downregulation of TAGLN expression in NF1-deficient MPNST tumor cells through the treatment of the small interfering RNA resulted in a decrease in the RAS activation (GTP-RAS) and the downstream ERK1/2 activation (phosphorylated ERK1/2), while the overexpression of TAGLN in normal-phenotypic NF1-deficient cells caused an increase in RAS and ERK1/2 activation. These results indicate that upregulation of transgelin caused by hypomethylation of the TAGLN gene is closely involved in tumor progression in NF1.
Project description:Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST) are rare soft tissue sarcomas that are a major source of mortality in neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) patients. To identify MPNST driver genes, we performed a lentiviral short hairpin (sh) RNA screen, targeting all 130 genes up-regulated in neurofibroma and MPNSTs versus normal human nerve Schwann cells. NF1 mutant cells show activation of RAS/MAPK signaling, so a counter-screen in RAS mutant carcinoma cells was performed to exclude common RAS-pathway driven genes. We identified 7 genes specific for survival of MPSNT cells, including MEIS1. MEIS1 was frequently amplified or hypomethylated in human MPSNTs, correlating with elevated MEIS1 gene expression. In MPNST cells and in a genetically engineered mouse model, MEIS1 expression in developing nerve glial cells was necessary for MPNST growth. Mechanistically, MEIS1 drives MPNST cell growth via the transcription factor ID1, thereby suppressing expression of the cell cycle inhibitor p27(Kip) and maintaining cell survival.
Project description:Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST) are aggressive sarcomas typically developing in the context of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1). With the exception of surgical resection, these tumors are resistant to all current therapies, and unresectable, recurrent, or metastatic tumors are considered incurable. Preclinical studies have identified several novel candidate molecular targets for therapeutic intervention, but, to date, targeted therapies have proven ineffective. Recent studies have identified recurrent mutations in polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) core components, embryonic ectoderm development protein (EED) and suppressor of zeste 12 homolog (SUZ12), in MPNST. These mutations result in global loss of the histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation epigenetic mark, normally deposited by PRC2, and subsequent gain in acetylation at this residue. This altered chromatin state has been shown to promote MPNST malignancy; however, acetylation at this residue sensitizes MPNSTs to BRD4 and bromodomain and extra-terminal domain inhibition. Interestingly, the catalytic component of PRC2, enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2), is not mutated in MPNST, hinting that a noncanonical, PRC2-independent function of EZH2 may play a role in this cancer. This review examines the pathobiology of MPNST, the contribution of PRC2 subunits to this process, and the prospects for PRC2-related therapies for this cancer. IMPLICATIONS: Identification of mutations in the PRC2 components EED and SUZ12 in the majority of MPNSTs may imply noncanonical oncogenic activities of the intact component, EZH2, and provide new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
Project description:The clinical management of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) is challenging not only due to its aggressive and invasive nature, but also limited therapeutic options. Using gene expression profiling, our lab identified BMP2-SMAD1/5/8 pathway as a potential therapeutic target for treating MPNSTs. In this study, we explored the therapeutic impact of targeting BMP2-SMAD1/5/8 pathway in conjunction with RAS-MEK-ERK signaling, which is constitutively activated in MPNSTs. Our results indicated that single agent treatment with LDN-193189, a BMP2 Type I receptor inhibitor, did not affect the growth and survival of MPNST cells at biochemically relevant inhibitory concentrations. However, addition of a MEK1/2 inhibitor, selumetinib, to LDN-193189-treated cells resulted in significant inhibition of cell growth and induction of cell death. LDN-193189 at biochemically effective concentrations significantly inhibited motility and invasiveness of MPNST cells, and these effects were enhanced by the addition of selumetinib. Overall, our results advocate for a combinatorial therapeutic approach for MPNSTs that not only targets the growth and survival via inhibition of MEK1/2, but also its malignant spread by suppressing the activation of BMP2-SMAD1/5/8 pathway. Importantly, these studies were conducted in low-passage patient-derived MPNST cells, allowing for an investigation of the effects of the proposed drug treatments in a biologically-relevant context.