Continuous treatment of malignancies with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) may select for resistant clones (ie, imatinib mesylate). To study resistance to TKIs targeting FLT3, a receptor tyrosine kinase that is frequently mutated in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), we developed resistant human cell lines through prolonged coculture with FLT3 TKIs. FLT3 TKI-resistant cell lines and primary samples still exhibit inhibition of FLT3 phosphorylation on FLT3 TKI treatment. However, FLT3 TKI-resistant cell lines and primary samples often show continued activation of downstream PI3K/Akt and/or Ras/MEK/MAPK signaling pathways as well as continued expression of genes involved in FLT3-mediated cellular transformation. Inhibition of these signaling pathways restores partial sensitivity to FLT3 TKIs. Mutational screening of FLT3 TKI-resistant cell lines revealed activating N-Ras mutations in 2 cell lines that were not present in the parental FLT3 TKI-sensitive cell line. Taken together, these data indicate that FLT3 TKI-resistant cells most frequently become FLT3 independent because of activation of parallel signaling pathways that provide compensatory survival/proliferation signals when FLT3 is inhibited. Anti-FLT3 mAb treatment was still cytotoxic to FLT3 TKI-resistant clones. An approach combining FLT3 TKIs with anti-FLT3 antibodies and/or inhibitors of important pathways downstream of FLT3 may reduce the chances of developing resistance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology