FMS-like tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) have been tested extensively to limited benefit in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We hypothesized that FLT3/internal tandem duplication (ITD) leukemia cells exhibit mechanisms of intrinsic signaling adaptation to TKI treatment that are associated with an incomplete response. Here, we identified reactivation of ERK signaling within hours following treatment of FLT3/ITD AML cells with selective inhibitors of FLT3. When these cells were treated with inhibitors of both FLT3 and MEK in combination, ERK reactivation was abrogated and anti-leukemia effects were more pronounced compared with either drug alone. ERK reactivation was also observed following inhibition of other tyrosine kinase–driven cancer cells, including EGFR-mutant lung cancer, HER2-amplified breast cancer, and BCR–ABL leukemia. These studies reveal an adaptive feedback mechanism in tyrosine kinase–driven cancers associated with reactivation of ERK signaling in response to targeted inhibition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research