Research Papers:

The afatinib resistance of in vivo generated H1975 lung cancer cell clones is mediated by SRC/ERBB3/c-KIT/c-MET compensatory survival signaling

Laurence Booth, Jane L. Roberts, Mehrad Tavallai, Timothy Webb, Daniel Leon, Jesse Chen, William P. McGuire, Andrew Poklepovic and Paul Dent _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:19620-19630. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7746

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Laurence Booth1, Jane L. Roberts1, Mehrad Tavallai1, Timothy Webb1, Daniel Leon1, Jesse Chen1, William P. McGuire2, Andrew Poklepovic2, Paul Dent1

1Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA

2Department of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA

Correspondence to:

Paul Dent, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: H1975, ERBB1 T790M L858R, afatinib resistance, dasatinib, ERBB3+c-MET+c-KIT

Received: January 17, 2016     Accepted: February 11, 2016     Published: February 26, 2016


We generated afatinib resistant clones of H1975 lung cancer cells by transient exposure of established tumors to the drug and collected the re-grown tumors. Afatinib resistant H1975 clones did not exhibit any additional mutations in proto-oncogenes when compared to control clones. Afatinib resistant H1975 tumor clones expressed less PTEN than control clones and in afatinib resistant clones this correlated with increased basal SRC Y416, ERBB3 Y1289, AKT T308 and mTOR S2448 phosphorylation, decreased expression of ERBB1, ERBB2 and ERBB3 and increased total expression of c-MET, c-KIT and PDGFRβ. Afatinib resistant clones were selectively killed by knock down of [ERBB3 + c-MET + c-KIT] but not by the individual or doublet knock down combinations. The combination of the ERBB1/2/4 inhibitor afatinib with the SRC family inhibitor dasatinib killed afatinib resistant H1975 cells in a greater than additive fashion; other drugs used in combination with dasatinib such as sunitinib, crizotinib and amufatinib were less effective. [Afatinib + dasatinib] treatment profoundly inactivated ERBB3, AKT and mTOR in the H1975 afatinib resistant clones and increased ATG13 S318 phosphorylation. Knock down of ATG13, Beclin1 or eIF2α strong suppressed killing by [ERBB3 + c-MET + c-KIT] knock down, but were only modestly protective against [afatinib + dasatinib] lethality. Thus afatinib resistant H1975 NSCLC cells rely on ERBB1- and SRC-dependent hyper-activation of residual ERBB3 and elevated signaling, due to elevated protein expression, from wild type c-MET and c-KIT to remain alive. Inhibition of ERBB3 signaling via both blockade of SRC and ERBB1 results in tumor cell death.

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