Establishment and Characterization of a Model of Acquired Resistance to Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Targeting Agents in Human Cancer Cells

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin 53792-0600, USA.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.72). 03/2009; 15(5):1585-92. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-2068
Source: PubMed


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is recognized as a key mediator of proliferation and progression in many human tumors. A series of EGFR-specific inhibitors have recently gained Food and Drug Administration approval in oncology. These strategies of EGFR inhibition have shown major tumor regressions in approximately 10% to 20% of advanced cancer patients. Many tumors, however, eventually manifest resistance to treatment. Efforts to better understand the underlying mechanisms of acquired resistance to EGFR inhibitors, and potential strategies to overcome resistance, are greatly needed.
To develop cell lines with acquired resistance to EGFR inhibitors we utilized the human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma tumor cell line SCC-1. Cells were treated with increasing concentrations of cetuximab, gefitinib, or erlotinib, and characterized for the molecular changes in the EGFR inhibitor-resistant lines relative to the EGFR inhibitor-sensitive lines.
EGFR inhibitor-resistant lines were able to maintain their resistant phenotype in both drug-free medium and in athymic nude mouse xenografts. In addition, EGFR inhibitor-resistant lines showed a markedly increased proliferation rate. EGFR inhibitor-resistant lines had elevated levels of phosphorylated EGFR, mitogen-activated protein kinase, AKT, and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, which were associated with reduced apoptotic capacity. Subsequent in vivo experiments indicated enhanced angiogenic potential in EGFR inhibitor-resistant lines. Finally, EGFR inhibitor-resistant lines showed cross-resistance to ionizing radiation.
We have developed EGFR inhibitor-resistant human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. This model provides a valuable preclinical tool to investigate molecular mechanisms of acquired resistance to EGFR blockade.

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Available from: Shyhmin Huang, Apr 15, 2014
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    • "Numerous efforts have been undertaken to define the molecular mechanisms of acquired resistance to cetuximab [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]. Our laboratory has established panels of cetuximab-resistant (Ctx R ) clones from the NSCLC cell line NCI-H226 by exposing these cells in vitro to increasing concentrations of cetuximab. "
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    ABSTRACT: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a central regulator of tumor progression in a variety of human cancers. Cetuximab is an anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody that has been approved for head and neck and colorectal cancer treatment, but many patients treated with cetuximab don't respond or eventually acquire resistance. To determine how tumor cells acquire resistance to cetuximab, we previously developed a model of acquired resistance using the non-small cell lung cancer line NCI-H226. These cetuximab-resistant (Ctx(R)) cells exhibit increased steady-state EGFR expression secondary to alterations in EGFR trafficking and degradation and, further, retained dependence on EGFR signaling for enhanced growth potential. Here, we examined Sym004, a novel mixture of antibodies directed against distinct epitopes on the extracellular domain of EGFR, as an alternative therapy for Ctx(R) tumor cells. Sym004 treatment of Ctx(R) clones resulted in rapid EGFR degradation, followed by robust inhibition of cell proliferation and down-regulation of several mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. To determine whether Sym004 could have therapeutic benefit in vivo, we established de novo Ctx(R) NCI-H226 mouse xenografts and subsequently treated Ctx(R) tumors with Sym004. Sym004 treatment of mice harboring Ctx(R) tumors resulted in growth delay compared to mice continued on cetuximab. Levels of total and phospho-EGFR were robustly decreased in Ctx(R) tumors treated with Sym004. Immunohistochemical analysis of these Sym004-treated xenograft tumors further demonstrated decreased expression of Ki67, and phospho-rpS6, as well as a modest increase in cleaved caspase-3. These results indicate that Sym004 may be an effective targeted therapy for Ctx(R) tumors.
    Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) 10/2013; 15(10):1196-206. DOI:10.1593/neo.131584 · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    • "Thus, it has become increasingly clear that the complex genetic and epigenetic alterations in HNSCC and other solid cancers contribute to intrinsic or acquired resistance to targeted and standard cytotoxic therapies [5,7,10–14]. Therefore, combinations or agents targeting multiple components of the dysregulated network in HNSCC and other solid cancers may have potential for broader activity [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is a chaperone protein that stabilizes proteins involved in oncogenic and therapeutic resistance pathways of epithelial cancers, including head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). Here, we characterized the molecular, cellular, and preclinical activity of HSP90 inhibitor SNX5422/2112 in HNSCC overexpressing HSP90. SNX2112 inhibited proliferation, induced G2/M block, and enhanced cytotoxicity, chemosensitivity, and radiosensitivity between 25 and 250 nM in vitro. SNX2112 showed combinatorial activity with paclitaxel in wild-type (wt) TP53-deficient and cisplatin in mutant (mt) TP53 HNSCC lines. SNX2112 decreased expression or phosphorylation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), c-MET, v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog 1 (AKT), extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) 1 and 2, inhibitor κB kinase, and signal transducer and transcription factor 3 (STAT3), corresponding downstream nuclear factor κB, activator protein-1, and STAT3 reporter genes, and target oncogenes and angiogenic cytokines. Furthermore, SNX2112 enhanced re-expression of TP53 and targets p21WAF1 and PUMA, while TP53 inhibitor Pifithrin or siRNA attenuated the antiproliferative activity of SNX2112 in wtTP53 HNSCC in vitro. Prodrug SNX5422 similarly down-modulated key signal targets, enhanced TP53 expression and apoptosis, and inhibited proliferation, angiogenesis, and tumorigenesis in a wtTP53-deficient HNSCC xenograft model. Thus, HSP90 inhibitor SNX5422/2112 broadly modulates multiple key nodes within the dysregulated signaling network, with corresponding effects upon the malignant phenotype. Our data support investigation of SNX5422/2112 in combination with paclitaxel, cisplatin, and radiotherapy in HNSCC with different TP53 status.
    Translational oncology 08/2013; 6(4):429-41. DOI:10.1593/tlo.13292 · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    • "Drug resistant cell lines were generated via a process of slowly escalating exposure to erlotinib, as reported previously [30]. SCC-S is used to designate the parental UM-SCC1 cells exposed to DMSO, and SCC-R refers to the erlotinib resistant clone. "
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    ABSTRACT: The sensitivity of only a few tumors to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) can be explained by the presence of EGFR tyrosine kinase (TK) domain mutations. In addition, such mutations were rarely found in tumor types other than lung, such as pancreatic and head and neck cancer. In this study we sought to elucidate mechanisms of resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies in tumors that do not harbor TK sensitizing mutations in order to identify markers capable of guiding the decision to incorporate these drugs into chemotherapeutic regimens. Here we show that EGFR activity was markedly decreased during the evolution of resistance to the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) erlotinib, with a concomitant increase of mitogen-inducible gene 6 (Mig6), a negative regulator of EGFR through the upregulation of the PI3K-AKT pathway. EGFR activity, which was more accurately predicted by the ratio of Mig6/EGFR, highly correlated with erlotinib sensitivity in panels of cancer cell lines of different tissue origins. Blinded testing and analysis in a prospectively followed cohort of lung cancer patients treated with gefitinib alone demonstrated higher response rates and a marked increased in progression free survival for patients with a low Mig6/EGFR ratio (approximately 100 days, P = 0.01).
    PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e68966. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0068966 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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