Research Papers:

Dynamic variations in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), ATM, and SLFN11 govern response to PARP inhibitors and cisplatin in small cell lung cancer

C. Allison Stewart, Pan Tong, Robert J. Cardnell, Triparna Sen, Lerong Li, Carl M. Gay, Fatemah Masrorpour, Youhong Fan, Rasha O. Bara, Ying Feng, Yuanbin Ru, Junya Fujimoto, Samrat T. Kundu, Leonard E. Post, Guoying K. Yu, Yuqiao Shen, Bonnie S. Glisson, Ignacio Wistuba, John V. Heymach, Don L. Gibbons, Jing Wang and Lauren A. Byers _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:28575-28587. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15338

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C. Allison Stewart1, Pan Tong2, Robert J. Cardnell1, Triparna Sen1, Lerong Li2, Carl M. Gay1, Fatemah Masrorpour1, You Fan1, Rasha O. Bara1, Ying Feng3, Yuanbin Ru3, Junya Fujimoto4, Samrat T. Kundu1, Leonard E. Post3, Karen Yu3, Yuqiao Shen3, Bonnie S. Glisson1, Ignacio Wistuba4, John V. Heymach1, Don L. Gibbons1, Jing Wang2 and Lauren Averett Byers1

1Department of Thoracic Head & Neck Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA

2Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA

3BioMarin Pharmaceutical, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA

4Department of Translational Molecular Pathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Correspondence to:

Lauren Averett Byers, email: lbyers@mdanderson.org

Keywords: SCLC, SLFN11, ATM, EMT, PARP inhibitor

Received: December 10, 2016     Accepted: January 19, 2017     Published: February 15, 2017


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, with a 5-year survival <7%. A major barrier to progress is the absence of predictive biomarkers for chemotherapy and novel targeted agents such as PARP inhibitors. Using a high-throughput, integrated proteomic, transcriptomic, and genomic analysis of SCLC patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) and profiled cell lines, we identified biomarkers of drug sensitivity and determined their prevalence in patient tumors. In contrast to breast and ovarian cancer, PARP inhibitor response was not associated with mutations in homologous recombination (HR) genes (e.g., BRCA1/2) or HRD scores. Instead, we found several proteomic markers that predicted PDX response, including high levels of SLFN11 and E-cadherin and low ATM. SLFN11 and E-cadherin were also significantly associated with in vitro sensitivity to cisplatin and topoisomerase1/2 inhibitors (all commonly used in SCLC). Treatment with cisplatin or PARP inhibitors downregulated SLFN11 and E-cadherin, possibly explaining the rapid development of therapeutic resistance in SCLC. Supporting their functional role, silencing SLFN11 reduced in vitro sensitivity and drug-induced DNA damage; whereas ATM knockdown or pharmacologic inhibition enhanced sensitivity. Notably, SCLC with mesenchymal phenotypes (i.e., loss of E-cadherin and high epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) signature scores) displayed striking alterations in expression of miR200 family and key SCLC genes (e.g., NEUROD1, ASCL1, ALDH1A1, MYCL1). Thus, SLFN11, EMT, and ATM mediate therapeutic response in SCLC and warrant further clinical investigation as predictive biomarkers.

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