We generated and compared Drosophila models of RET fusions CCDC6-RET and NCOA4-RET. Both RET fusions directed cells to migrate, delaminate, and undergo EMT, and both resulted in lethality when broadly expressed. In all phenotypes examined, NCOA4-RET was more severe than CCDC6-RET, mirroring their effects on patients. A functional screen against the Drosophila kinome and a library of cancer drugs found that CCDC6-RET and NCOA4-RET acted through different signaling networks and displayed distinct drug sensitivities. Combining data from the kinome and drug screens identified the WEE1 inhibitor AZD1775 plus the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib as a synergistic drug combination that is specific for NCOA4-RET. Our work emphasizes the importance of identifying and tailoring a patient's treatment to their specific RET fusion isoform and identifies a multi-targeted therapy that may prove effective against tumors containing the NCOA4-RET fusion.
Levinson, S., & Cagan, R. L. (2016). Drosophila Cancer Models Identify Functional Differences between Ret Fusions. Cell Reports, 16(11), 3052–3061. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2016.08.019