The human FGF receptors (FGFRs) play critical roles in various human cancers, and several FGFR inhibitors are currently under clinical investigation. Resistance usually results from selection for mutant kinases that are impervious to the action of the drug or from up-regulation of compensatory signaling pathways. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that resistance to FGFR inhibitors can be acquired through mutations in the FGFR gatekeeper residue, as clinically observed for FGFR4 in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroendocrine breast carcinomas. Here we report on the use of a structure-based drug design to develop two selective, next-generation covalent FGFR inhibitors, the FGFR irreversible inhibitors 2 (FIIN-2) and 3 (FIIN-3). To our knowledge, FIIN-2 and FIIN-3 are the first inhibitors that can potently inhibit the proliferation of cells dependent upon the gatekeeper mutants of FGFR1 or FGFR2, which confer resistance to first-generation clinical FGFR inhibitors such as NVP-BGJ398 and AZD4547. Because of the conformational flexibility of the reactive acrylamide substituent, FIIN-3 has the unprecedented ability to inhibit both the EGF receptor (EGFR) and FGFR covalently by targeting two distinct cysteine residues. We report the cocrystal structure of FGFR4 with FIIN-2, which unexpectedly exhibits a "DFG-out" covalent binding mode. The structural basis for dual FGFR and EGFR targeting by FIIN3 also is illustrated by crystal structures of FIIN-3 bound with FGFR4 V550L and EGFR L858R. These results have important implications for the design of covalent FGFR inhibitors that can overcome clinical resistance and provide the first example, to our knowledge, of a kinase inhibitor that covalently targets cysteines located in different positions within the ATP-binding pocket.
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are a heterogeneous set of cancers that are defined by the absence of hormone receptor expression and estrogen-related receptor ? (ERBB2) amplification. Here, we found that inducible I?B kinase-related (IKK-related) kinase IKBKE expression and JAK/STAT pathway activation compose a cytokine signaling network in the immune-activated subset of TNBC. We found that treatment of cultured IKBKE-driven breast cancer cells with CYT387, a potent inhibitor of TBK1/IKBKE and JAK signaling, impairs proliferation, while inhibition of JAK alone does not. CYT387 treatment inhibited activation of both NF-?B and STAT and disrupted expression of the protumorigenic cytokines CCL5 and IL-6 in these IKBKE-driven breast cancer cells. Moreover, in 3D culture models, the addition of CCL5 and IL-6 to the media not only promoted tumor spheroid dispersal but also stimulated proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. Interruption of cytokine signaling by CYT387 in vivo impaired the growth of an IKBKE-driven TNBC cell line and patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). A combination of CYT387 therapy with a MEK inhibitor was particularly effective, abrogating tumor growth and angiogenesis in an aggressive PDX model of TNBC. Together, these findings reveal that IKBKE-associated cytokine signaling promotes tumorigenicity of immune-driven TNBC and identify a potential therapeutic strategy using clinically available compounds.
Although the roles of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling in KRAS-driven tumorigenesis are well established, KRAS activates additional pathways required for tumor maintenance, the inhibition of which are likely to be necessary for effective KRAS-directed therapy. Here, we show that the I?B kinase (IKK)-related kinases Tank-binding kinase-1 (TBK1) and IKK? promote KRAS-driven tumorigenesis by regulating autocrine CCL5 and interleukin (IL)-6 and identify CYT387 as a potent JAK/TBK1/IKK? inhibitor. CYT387 treatment ablates RAS-associated cytokine signaling and impairs Kras-driven murine lung cancer growth. Combined CYT387 treatment and MAPK pathway inhibition induces regression of aggressive murine lung adenocarcinomas driven by Kras mutation and p53 loss. These observations reveal that TBK1/IKK? promote tumor survival by activating CCL5 and IL-6 and identify concurrent inhibition of TBK1/IKK?, Janus-activated kinase (JAK), and MEK signaling as an effective approach to inhibit the actions of oncogenic KRAS.
Capillary sprouting, a key step of neoangiogenesis in wound healing and tumor growth, also represents a therapeutic target for tissue repair. It requires crosstalk between endothelial cells (EC) and other cell types. We studied this process in a microfluidic platform that allows EC to migrate out of a channel across a collagen gel up a gradient of factors produced by a collection of encapsulated fibroblasts. Introduction of a prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor (PHi), ciclopirox olamine (CPX) to stabilize hypoxia inducible factor 1? (HIF-1?) predominantly in fibroblasts induced capillary sprouting in EC, but the most complex tubular networks with true lumina formed after combining CPX with the lysophospholipid sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P). The enhanced angiogenesis is a possible consequence of the generation of mutually stimulating factors as each cell type responded differently to the compounds. The combination of CPX and S1P induced secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in fibroblast culture whereas the angiogenic monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 was exclusively secreted by fibroblasts, but only in the presence of EC-conditioned medium. Antibody interference with fibroblast-produced VEGF and MCP-1 inhibited the sprouting response. These observations not only demonstrate the collaboration of EC and fibroblasts in inducing capillary sprouting but also suggest that the combination of CPX and S1P enhances angiogenesis and thus might be of therapeutic value for the pharmacological induction of tissue repair and regeneration.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a critical role in the early stages of dissemination of carcinoma leading to metastatic tumors, which are responsible for over 90% of all cancer-related deaths. Current therapeutic regimens, however, have been ineffective in the cure of metastatic cancer, thus an urgent need exists to revisit existing protocols and to improve the efficacy of newly developed therapeutics. Strategies based on preventing EMT could potentially contribute to improving the outcome of advanced stage cancers. To achieve this goal new assays are needed to identify targeted drugs capable of interfering with EMT or to revert the mesenchymal-like phenotype of carcinoma to an epithelial-like state. Current assays are limited to examining the dispersion of carcinoma cells in isolation in conventional 2-dimensional (2D) microwell systems, an approach that fails to account for the 3-dimensional (3D) environment of the tumor or the essential interactions that occur with other nearby cell types in the tumor microenvironment. Here we present a microfluidic system that integrates tumor cell spheroids in a 3D hydrogel scaffold, in close co-culture with an endothelial monolayer. Drug candidates inhibiting receptor activation or signal transduction pathways implicated in EMT have been tested using dispersion of A549 lung adenocarcinoma cell spheroids as a metric of effectiveness. We demonstrate significant differences in response to drugs between 2D and 3D, and between monoculture and co-culture.
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