Dissection of drug resistance mechanisms in FGFR2 mutant endometrial cancer.
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Mutations in FGFR2 are common in a subset of endometrial carcinomas. Given the emergence of small molecule inhibitors specific to this receptor tyrosine kinase, FGFR2 is an attractive therapeutic target. However, compensatory and adaptation mechanisms limit the clinical utility of compounds that target nodes in the receptor tyrosine kinase network. Here, we analysed the impact of FGFR inhibition in endometrial cancer cells and observed the emergence of a resistant population in an FGFR2-mutant cell line. To understand the mechanisms underlying this adaptation response, we used a phosphoproteomics approach to measure the kinase network in an unbiased manner. These experiments led to the identification of an AKT-related compensatory mechanism underpinning this resistance. Further dissection of this resistance mechanism utilising gene expression analysis showed PHLDA1, a negative regulator of AKT, was significantly down-regulated in resistant cells. This was further confirmed at the protein level. siRNA knockdown of PHLDA1 conferred immediate drug resistance in the FGFR2-mutant endometrial cancer cell line. Therefore, we identified PHLDA1 down-regulation as a mediator of drug resistance in FGFR2 mutant cancer cells, the first demonstration of the role of PHLDA1 in the acquisition and maintenance of drug resistance. Using a 3D physiomimetic model, we demonstrated that AKT inhibition alone also led to generation of a drug-resistant population. Most importantly, dual-drug therapy inhibited proliferation and induced cell death. Our data highlight how mass spectrometry and microarray gene expression analysis can complement each other in the identification of novel resistance mechanisms in cancer cells. These data suggest that combination treatment of FGFR2-mutant endometrial cancers, targeting both FGFR2 and AKT, represents a promising therapeutic approach.
AuthorsFearon, Abbie Elizabeth
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