Small-molecule targeted therapies induce dependence on DNA double-strand break repair in residual tumor cells.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Residual cancer cells that survive drug treatments with targeted therapies act as a reservoir from which eventual resistant disease emerges. Although there is great interest in therapeutically targeting residual cells, efforts are hampered by our limited knowledge of the vulnerabilities existing in this cell state. Here, we report that diverse oncogene-targeted therapies, including inhibitors of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), KRAS, and BRAF, induce DNA double-strand breaks and, consequently, ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM)-dependent DNA repair in oncogene-matched residual tumor cells. This DNA damage response, observed in cell lines, mouse xenograft models, and human patients, is driven by a pathway involving the activation of caspases 3 and 7 and the downstream caspase-activated deoxyribonuclease (CAD). CAD is, in turn, activated through caspase-mediated degradation of its endogenous inhibitor, ICAD. In models of EGFR mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), tumor cells that survive treatment with small-molecule EGFR-targeted therapies are thus synthetically dependent on ATM, and combined treatment with an ATM kinase inhibitor eradicates these cells in vivo. This led to more penetrant and durable responses in EGFR mutant NSCLC mouse xenograft models, including those derived from both established cell lines and patient tumors. Last, we found that rare patients with EGFR mutant NSCLC harboring co-occurring, loss-of-function mutations in ATM exhibit extended progression-free survival on first generation EGFR inhibitor therapy relative to patients with EGFR mutant NSCLC lacking deleterious ATM mutations. Together, these findings establish a rationale for the mechanism-based integration of ATM inhibitors alongside existing targeted therapies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ali, M; Lu, M; Ang, HX; Soderquist, RS; Eyler, CE; Hutchinson, HM; Glass, C; Bassil, CF; Lopez, OM; Kerr, DL; Falcon, CJ; Yu, HA; Hata, AN; Blakely, CM; McCoach, CE; Bivona, TG; Wood, KC

Published Date

  • March 30, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 638

Start / End Page

  • eabc7480 -

PubMed ID

  • 35353542

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1946-6242

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/scitranslmed.abc7480


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States