Rapid Acquisition of Alectinib Resistance in ALK-Positive Lung Cancer With High Tumor Mutation Burden

Go Makimoto, Kadoaki Oohashi, Shuta Tomida, Kazuya Nishii, Takehiro Matsubara, Hiroe Kayatani, Hisao Higo, Kiichiro Ninomiya, Akiko Sato, Hiromi Watanabe, Hirohisa Kano, Takashi Ninomiya, Toshio Kubo, Kanmei Rai, Eiki Ichihara, Katsuyuki Hotta, Masahiro Tabata, Shinichi Toyooka, Minoru Takata, Yoshinobu MaedaKatsuyuki Kiura

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Introduction: The highly selective ALK receptor tyrosine kinase (ALK) inhibitor alectinib is standard therapy for ALK-positive lung cancers; however, some tumors quickly develop resistance. Here, we investigated the mechanism associated with rapid acquisition of resistance using clinical samples. Methods: Autopsied samples were obtained from lung, liver, and renal tumors from a 51-year-old male patient with advanced ALK-positive lung cancer who had acquired resistance to alectinib in only 3 months. We established an alectinib-resistant cell line (ABC-14) from pleural effusion and an alectinib/crizotinib-resistant cell line (ABC-17) and patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model from liver tumors. Additionally, we performed next-generation sequencing, direct DNA sequencing, and quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Results: ABC-14 cells harbored no ALK mutations and were sensitive to crizotinib while also exhibiting MNNG HOS transforming gene (MET) gene amplification and amphiregulin overexpression. Additionally, combined treatment with crizotinib/erlotinib inhibited cell growth. ABC-17 and PDX tumors harbored ALK G1202R, and PDX tumors metastasized to multiple organs in vivo, whereas the third-generation ALK-inhibitor, lorlatinib, diminished tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Next-generation sequencing indicated high tumor mutation burden and heterogeneous tumor evolution. The autopsied lung tumors harbored ALK G1202R (c. 3604 G>A) and the right renal metastasis harbored ALK G1202R (c. 3604 G>C); the mutation thus comprised different codon changes. Conclusions: High tumor mutation burden and heterogeneous tumor evolution might be responsible for rapid acquisition of alectinib resistance. Timely lorlatinib administration or combined therapy with an ALK inhibitor and other receptor tyrosine-kinase inhibitors might constitute a potent strategy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • Alectinib
  • ALK G1202R
  • Amphiregulin
  • MET

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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