Kinome RNAi screens reveal synergistic targeting of MTOR and FGFR1 Pathways for treatment of lung cancer and hnscc

Katherine R. Singleton, Trista K. Hinz, Emily K. Kleczko, A. Lindsay Marek, Jeff Kwak, Taylor Harp, Jihye Kim, Aik Choon Tan, Lynn E. Heasley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The FGFR1 is a therapeutic target under investigation in multiple solid tumors and clinical trials of selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are underway. Treatment with a single TKI represents a logical step toward personalized cancer therapy, but intrinsic and acquired resistance mechanisms limit their long-term benefit. In this study, we deployed RNAi-based functional genomic screens to identify protein kinases controlling the intrinsic sensitivity of FGFR1-dependent lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) cells to ponatinib, a multikinase FGFR-Active inhibitor. We identified and validated a synthetic lethal interaction between MTOR and ponatinib in non-small cell lung carcinoma cells. In addition, treatment with MTOR-targeting shRNAs and pharmacologic inhibitors revealed that MTOR is an essential protein kinase in other FGFR1-expressing cancer cells. The combination of FGFR inhibitors and MTOR or AKT inhibitors resulted in synergistic growth suppression in vitro. Notably, tumor xenografts generated from FGFR1-dependent lung cancer cells exhibited only modest sensitivity to monotherapy with the FGFRspecific TKI, AZD4547, but when combined with the MTOR inhibitor, AZD2014, significantly attenuated tumor growth and prolonged survival. Our findings support the existence of a signaling network wherein FGFR1-driven ERK and activated MTOR/AKT represent distinct arms required to induce full transformation. Furthermore, they suggest that clinical efficacy of treatments for FGFR1-driven lung cancers and HNSCC may be achieved by combining MTOR inhibitors and FGFR-specific TKIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4398-4406
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Oct 15

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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