Genome-wide loss-of-function genetic screens were performed to identify genes implicated in resistance to HER2/PI3K/mTOR targeting agents in HER2+ breast cancer cell lines. Expression and adjuvant trastuzumab response data from the HER2+ breast cancer trials FinHer and Responsify were used to validate our findings in patient series.
We find that reduced ARID1A expression confers resistance to several drugs that inhibit the HER2/PI3K/mTOR signaling cascade at different levels. We demonstrate that ARID1A loss activates annexin A1 (ANXA1) expression, which is required for drug resistance through its activation of AKT. We find that the AKT inhibitor MK2206 restores sensitivity of ARID1A knockdown breast cancer cells to both the mTOR kinase inhibitor AZD8055 and trastuzumab. Consistent with these in vitro data, we find in two independent HER2+ breast cancer patient series that high ANXA1 expression is associated with resistance to adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy.
Our findings provide a rationale for why tumors accumulate ARID1A mutations and identify high ANXA1 expression as a predictive biomarker for trastuzumab-based treatment. Our findings also suggest strategies to treat breast cancers with elevated ANXA1 expression. Clin Cancer Res; 22(21); 5238-48. ©2016 AACR.
Despite the substantial progress in the development of targeted anticancer drugs, treatment failure due to primary or acquired resistance is still a major hurdle in the effective treatment of most advanced human cancers. Understanding these resistance mechanisms will be instrumental to improve personalized cancer treatment.