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Resistance Mechanisms to ALK Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) in NSCLC

Abstract : The molecular study and classification of lung adenocarcinomas has led to the development of selective targeted therapies aiming to improve disease control and survival in patients. The anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a tyrosine kinase receptor from the insulin tyrosine kinase receptor family, with a physiologic role in neural development. Gene rearrangements involving the ALK kinase domain occur in ~3-6% of patients with lung adenocarcinoma. The fusion protein dimerizes leading to transactivation of the ALK kinase domain in a ligand-independent and constitutive manner. Lorlatinib is a third generation ALK inhibitor with high potency and selectivity for this kinase in vitro and in vivo, and elevated penetrance in the central nervous system. Lorlatinib can overcome resistance mediated by over 16 secondary kinase domain mutations occurring in 13 residues upon progression to first - and second - generation ALK TKI. In addition, treatment with lorlatinib is effective for patients who have been previously treated with a first and a second generation or a second generation ALK TKI upfront and is currently approved for this indication. The full spectrum of biological mechanisms driving lorlatinib resistance in patients remains to be elucidated. It has been recently reported that the sequential acquisition of two or more mutations in the kinase domain, also referred as compound mutations, is responsible for disease progression in about 35% of patients treated with lorlatinib, mainly by impairing its binding to the ALK kinase domain. However, the effect of these compound mutations on the sensitivity to the repertoire of ALK inhibitors can vary, and other resistance mechanisms occurring in most patients are unknown. My PhD thesis aimed at exploring resistance to lorlatinib in patients with ALK-rearranged lung cancer through spatial and temporal tumor biopsies and development of patient-derived models. Within the institutional MATCH-R study (NCT02517892), we performed high-throughput whole exome, RNA and targeted next-generation sequencing, together with plasma sequencing to identify putative genomic and bypass mechanisms of resistance. We developed patient-derived cell lines and characterized novel mechanisms of resistance and personalized treatment strategies in vitro and in vivo. We characterized three mechanisms of resistance in four patients with paired biopsies. We studied the induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by SRC activation in a patient-derived cell line exposed to lorlatinib. Mesenchymal cells were sensitive to combined SRC and ALK co-inhibition, showing that even in the presence of an aggressive and challenging phenotype, combination strategies can overcome ALK resistance. We identified two novel ALK kinase domain compound mutations, F1174L/G1202R, C1156Y/G1269A, occurring in two patients treated with lorlatinib. We developed Ba/F3 cell models harboring single and compound mutations to study the differential effect of these mutations on lorlatinib resistance. Finally, we characterized a novel mechanism of resistance caused by NF2 loss of function at the time of lorlatinib progression through the development of patients derived PDX and cell lines, and in vitro validation of NF2 knock-out with CRISPR/CAS9 gene editing. Downstream activation of mTOR was found to drive lorlatinib resistance by NF2 loss of function and was overcome by providing treatment with mTOR inhibitors.This study shows that mechanisms of resistance to lorlatinib are more diverse and complex than anticipated. Our findings also emphasize how longitudinal studies of tumor dynamics allow deciphering TKI resistance and identifying reversing strategies.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 12:26:10 PM
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Gonzalo Recondo. Resistance Mechanisms to ALK Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) in NSCLC. Cancer. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE); Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019SACLS248⟩. ⟨tel-02337169⟩

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