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Publications

by Keyword: venetoclax

Montero, J, Haq, R, (2022). Adapted to Survive: Targeting Cancer Cells with BH3 Mimetics Cancer Discovery 12, 1217-1232

A hallmark of cancer is cell death evasion, underlying suboptimal responses to chemotherapy, targeted agents, and immunotherapies. The approval of the anti apoptotic BCL2 antagonist venetoclax has fi nally validated the potential of targeting apoptotic pathways in patients with cancer. Nevertheless, pharmacologic modulators of cell death have shown markedly varied responses in preclinical and clinical studies. Here, we review emerging concepts in the use of this class of therapies. Building on these observations, we propose that treatment-induced changes in apoptotic dependency, rather than pretreatment dependencies, will need to be recognized and targeted to realize the precise deployment of these new pharmacologic agents. Signifi cance: Targeting antiapoptotic family members has proven effi cacious and tolerable in some cancers, but responses are infrequent, particularly for patients with solid tumors. Biomarkers to aid patient selection have been lacking. Precision functional approaches that overcome adaptive resistance to these compounds could drive durable responses to chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapies.

JTD Keywords: Anti-apoptotic mcl-1, Bcl-x-l, Bim expression, Chemotherapy sensitivity, Combination strategies, Family proteins, Multiple-myeloma, Oblimersen sodium, Phase-i, Venetoclax resistance


Schroeder, Barbara, Vander Steen, Travis, Espinoza, Ingrid, Venkatapoorna, Chandra MKurapaty, Hu, Zeng, Silva, Fernando Martín, Regan, Kevin, Cuyàs, Elisabet, Meng, XWei, Verdura, Sara, Arbusà, Aina, Schneider, Paula A., Flatten, Karen S., Kemble, George, Montero, Joan, Kaufmann, Scott H., Menendez, Javier A., Lupu, Ruth, (2021). Fatty acid synthase (FASN) regulates the mitochondrial priming of cancer cells Cell Death & Disease 12, 977

Inhibitors of the lipogenic enzyme fatty acid synthase (FASN) have attracted much attention in the last decade as potential targeted cancer therapies. However, little is known about the molecular determinants of cancer cell sensitivity to FASN inhibitors (FASNis), which is a major roadblock to their therapeutic application. Here, we find that pharmacological starvation of endogenously produced FAs is a previously unrecognized metabolic stress that heightens mitochondrial apoptotic priming and favors cell death induction by BH3 mimetic inhibitors. Evaluation of the death decision circuits controlled by the BCL-2 family of proteins revealed that FASN inhibition is accompanied by the upregulation of the pro-death BH3-only proteins BIM, PUMA, and NOXA. Cell death triggered by FASN inhibition, which causally involves a palmitate/NADPH-related redox imbalance, is markedly diminished by concurrent loss of BIM or PUMA, suggesting that FASN activity controls cancer cell survival by fine-tuning the BH3 only proteins-dependent mitochondrial threshold for apoptosis. FASN inhibition results in a heightened mitochondrial apoptosis priming, shifting cells toward a primed-for-death state “addicted” to the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-2. Accordingly, co-administration of a FASNi synergistically augments the apoptosis-inducing activity of the dual BCL-XL/BCL-2 inhibitor ABT-263 (navitoclax) and the BCL-2 specific BH3-mimetic ABT-199 (venetoclax). FASN inhibition, however, fails to sensitize breast cancer cells to MCL-1- and BCL-XL-selective inhibitors such as S63845 and A1331852. A human breast cancer xenograft model evidenced that oral administration of the only clinically available FASNi drastically sensitizes FASN-addicted breast tumors to ineffective single-agents navitoclax and venetoclax in vivo. In summary, a novel FASN-driven facet of the mitochondrial priming mechanistically links the redox-buffering mechanism of FASN activity to the intrinsic apoptotic threshold in breast cancer cells. Combining next-generation FASNis with BCL-2-specific BH3 mimetics that directly activate the apoptotic machinery might generate more potent and longer-lasting antitumor responses in a clinical setting.

JTD Keywords: activation, apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cytochrome-c, death, inhibition, metabolism, pathways, venetoclax, Bcl-2 family


Manzano-Muñoz A, Alcon C, Menéndez P, Ramírez M, Seyfried F, Debatin KM, Meyer LH, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). MCL-1 Inhibition Overcomes Anti-apoptotic Adaptation to Targeted Therapies in B-Cell Precursor Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Frontiers In Cell And Developmental Biology 9, 695225

Multiple targeted therapies are currently explored for pediatric and young adult B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) treatment. However, this new armamentarium of therapies faces an old problem: choosing the right treatment for each patient. The lack of predictive biomarkers is particularly worrying for pediatric patients since it impairs the implementation of new treatments in the clinic. In this study, we used the functional assay dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP) to evaluate two new treatments for BCP-ALL that could improve clinical outcome, especially for relapsed patients. We found that the MEK inhibitor trametinib and the multi-target tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib exquisitely increased apoptotic priming in an NRAS-mutant and in a KMT2A-rearranged cell line presenting a high expression of FLT3, respectively. Following these observations, we sought to study potential adaptations to these treatments. Indeed, we identified with DBP anti-apoptotic changes in the BCL-2 family after treatment, particularly involving MCL-1 – a pro-survival strategy previously observed in adult cancers. To overcome this adaptation, we employed the BH3 mimetic S63845, a specific MCL-1 inhibitor, and evaluated its sequential addition to both kinase inhibitors to overcome resistance. We observed that the metronomic combination of both drugs with S63845 was synergistic and showed an increased efficacy compared to single agents. Similar observations were made in BCP-ALL KMT2A-rearranged PDX cells in response to sunitinib, showing an analogous DBP profile to the SEM cell line. These findings demonstrate that rational sequences of targeted agents with BH3 mimetics, now extensively explored in clinical trials, may improve treatment effectiveness by overcoming anti-apoptotic adaptations in BCP-ALL.

JTD Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cancer, dependence, increases, kinase inhibition, pediatric leukemia, precision medicine, resistance, sensitivity, targeted therapies, tumor-cells, venetoclax, Apoptosis, Bcl-2 family proteins, Bh3 mimetics, Pediatric leukemia, Resistance, Targeted therapies