Cancer Res 2010 Feb 26;70(3):868-74. Epub 2010 Jan 26.
Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research with Klaus-Joachim-Zülch Laboratories of the Max Planck Society, Center of Integrated Oncology and Department I of Internal Medicine, University of Köln, Cologne, Germany.
Reversible epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors are the first class of small molecules to improve progression-free survival of patients with EGFR-mutated lung cancers. Second-generation EGFR inhibitors introduced to overcome acquired resistance by the T790M resistance mutation of EGFR have thus far shown limited clinical activity in patients with T790M-mutant tumors. In this study, we systematically analyzed the determinants of the activity and selectivity of the second-generation EGFR inhibitors. A focused library of irreversible as well as structurally corresponding reversible EGFR-inhibitors was synthesized for chemogenomic profiling involving over 79 genetically defined NSCLC and 19 EGFR-dependent cell lines. Overall, our results show that the growth-inhibitory potency of all irreversible inhibitors against the EGFR(T790M) resistance mutation was limited by reduced target inhibition, linked to decreased binding velocity to the mutant kinase. Combined treatment of T790M-mutant tumor cells with BIBW-2992 and the phosphoinositide-3-kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor PI-103 led to synergistic induction of apoptosis. Our findings offer a mechanistic explanation for the limited efficacy of irreversible EGFR inhibitors in EGFR(T790M) gatekeeper-mutant tumors, and they prompt combination treatment strategies involving inhibitors that target signaling downstream of the EGFR.