Newly identified members of FGFR1 splice variants engage in cross-talk with AXL/AKT axis in salivary adenoid cystic carcinoma

Joseph O. Humtsoe, Hyun Su Kim, Brandon Leonard, Shizhang Ling, Bhumsuk Keam, Luigi Marchionni, Bahman Afsari, Michael Considine, Alexander V. Favorov, Elana J. Fertig, Hyunseok Kang, Patrick Ha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is the second most common malignancy of the salivary gland. Although characterized as an indolent tumor, ACC often leads to incurable metastatic disease. Patients with ACC respond poorly to currently available therapeutic drugs and factors contributing to the limited response remain unknown. Determining the role of molecular alterations frequently occurring in ACC may clarify ACC tumorigenesis and advance the development of effective treatment strategies. Applying Splice Expression Variant Analysis and outlier statistics on RNA sequencing of primary ACC tumors and matched normal salivary gland tissues, we identified multiple alternative splicing events (ASE) of genes specific to ACC. In ACC cells and patient-derived xenografts, FGFR1 was a uniquely expressed ASE. Detailed PCR analysis identified three novel, truncated, intracellular domain-lacking FGFR1 variants (FGFR1v). Cloning and expression analysis suggest that the three FGFR1v are cell surface proteins, that expression of FGFR1v augmented pAKT activity, and that cells became more resistant to pharmacologic FGFR1 inhibitor. FGFR1v-induced AKT activation was associated with AXL function, and inhibition of AXL activity in FGFR1v knockdown cells led to enhanced cytotoxicity in ACC. Moreover, cell killing effect was increased by dual inhibition of AXL and FGFR1 in ACC cells. This study demonstrates that these previously undescribed FGFR1v cooperate with AXL and desensitize cells to FGFR1 inhibitor, which supports further investigation into combined FGFR1 and AXL inhibition as an effective ACC therapy. This study identifies several FGFR1 variants that function through the AXL/AKT signaling pathway independent of FGF/ FGFR1, desensitizing cells to FGFR1 inhibitor suggestive of a potential resistance mechanism in ACC. Significance: This study identifies several FGFR1 variants that function through the AXL/AKT signaling pathway independent of FGF/FGFR1, desensitizing cells to FGFR1 inhibitor, suggestive of a potential resistance mechanism in ACC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1013
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Research
Volume81
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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