Loss of AXIN1 drives acquired resistance to WNT pathway blockade in colorectal cancer cells carrying RSPO 3 fusions

  • Picco G
  • Petti C
  • Centonze A
  • et al.
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Abstract

© 2017 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license In colorectal cancer (CRC), WNT pathway activation by genetic rearrangements of RSPO3 is emerging as a promising target. However, its low prevalence severely limits availability of preclinical models for in-depth characterization. Using a pipeline designed to suppress stroma-derived signal, we find that RSPO3 “outlier” expression in CRC samples highlights translocation and fusion transcript expression. Outlier search in 151 CRC cell lines identified VACO6 and SNU1411 cells as carriers of, respectively, a canonical PTPRK(e1)-RSPO3(e2) fusion and a novel PTPRK(e13)-RSPO3(e2) fusion. Both lines displayed marked in vitro and in vivo sensitivity to WNT blockade by the porcupine inhibitor LGK974, associated with transcriptional and morphological evidence of WNT pathway suppression. Long-term treatment of VACO6 cells with LGK974 led to the emergence of a resistant population carrying two frameshift deletions of the WNT pathway inhibitor AXIN1, with consequent protein loss. Suppression of AXIN1 in parental VACO6 cells by RNA interference conferred marked resistance to LGK974. These results provide the first mechanism of secondary resistance to WNT pathway inhibition.

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Picco, G., Petti, C., Centonze, A., Torchiaro, E., Crisafulli, G., Novara, L., … Medico, E. (2017). Loss of AXIN1 drives acquired resistance to WNT pathway blockade in colorectal cancer cells carrying RSPO 3 fusions . EMBO Molecular Medicine, 9(3), 293–303. https://doi.org/10.15252/emmm.201606773

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