Lung cancer is a genetically heterogeneous disease characterized by the acquisition of somatic mutations in numerous protein kinases, including components of the rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (RAS) and AKT signaling cascades. These pathways intersect at various points, rendering this network highly redundant and suggesting that combined mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MEK) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition may be a promising drug combination that can overcome its intrinsic plasticity. The MEK inhibitors, CI-1040 or PD0325901, in combination with the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, or its analogue AP23573, exhibited dose-dependent synergism in human lung cancer cell lines that was associated with suppression of proliferation rather than enhancement of cell death. Concurrent suppression of MEK and mTOR inhibited ribosomal biogenesis by 40% within 24 h and was associated with a decreased polysome/monosome ratio that is indicative of reduced protein translation efficiency. Furthermore, the combination of PD0325901 and rapamycin was significantly superior to either drug alone or PD0325901 at the maximum tolerated dose in nude mice bearing human lung tumor xenografts or heterotransplants. Except for a PTEN mutant, all tumor models had sustained tumor regressions and minimal toxicity. These data (a) provide evidence that both pathways converge on factors that regulate translation initiation and (b) support therapeutic strategies in lung cancer that simultaneously suppress the RAS and AKT signaling network.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research