Research Papers:

Combinatorial therapeutic targeting of BMP2 and MEK-ERK pathways in NF1-associated malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors

Sidra Ahsan, Yubin Ge and Michael A. Tainsky _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:57171-57185. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11036

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Sidra Ahsan1,2,3, Yubin Ge2,3, Michael A. Tainsky1,2,3,4

1Cancer Biology Graduate Program, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

2Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

3Molecular Therapeutics Program, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

4Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

Correspondence to:

Michael A. Tainsky, email: AF7502@wayne.edu

Keywords: neurofibromatosis type 1, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, BMP2, combinatorial targeted therapy, cell signaling

Received: April 28, 2016    Accepted: July 19, 2016    Published: August 03, 2016


The clinical management of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) is challenging not only due to its aggressive and invasive nature, but also limited therapeutic options. Using gene expression profiling, our lab identified BMP2-SMAD1/5/8 pathway as a potential therapeutic target for treating MPNSTs. In this study, we explored the therapeutic impact of targeting BMP2-SMAD1/5/8 pathway in conjunction with RAS-MEK-ERK signaling, which is constitutively activated in MPNSTs. Our results indicated that single agent treatment with LDN-193189, a BMP2 Type I receptor inhibitor, did not affect the growth and survival of MPNST cells at biochemically relevant inhibitory concentrations. However, addition of a MEK1/2 inhibitor, selumetinib, to LDN-193189-treated cells resulted in significant inhibition of cell growth and induction of cell death. LDN-193189 at biochemically effective concentrations significantly inhibited motility and invasiveness of MPNST cells, and these effects were enhanced by the addition of selumetinib. Overall, our results advocate for a combinatorial therapeutic approach for MPNSTs that not only targets the growth and survival via inhibition of MEK1/2, but also its malignant spread by suppressing the activation of BMP2-SMAD1/5/8 pathway. Importantly, these studies were conducted in low-passage patient-derived MPNST cells, allowing for an investigation of the effects of the proposed drug treatments in a biologically-relevant context.

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