Chemotherapy confers a conserved secondary tolerance to EGFR inhibition via AXL-mediated signaling bypass

Mark Borris D. Aldonza, Roben D.Delos Reyes, Young Seo Kim, Jayoung Ku, Ana Melisa Barsallo, Ji Young Hong, Sang Kook Lee, Han Suk Ryu, Yong Keun Park, Je Yoel Cho, Yoosik Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Drug resistance remains the major culprit of therapy failure in disseminated cancers. Simultaneous resistance to multiple, chemically different drugs feeds this failure resulting in cancer relapse. Here, we investigate co-resistance signatures shared between antimitotic drugs (AMDs) and inhibitors of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) to probe mechanisms of secondary resistance. We map co-resistance ranks in multiple drug pairs and identified a more widespread occurrence of co-resistance to the EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) gefitinib in hundreds of cancer cell lines resistant to at least 11 AMDs. By surveying different parameters of genomic alterations, we find that the two RTKs EGFR and AXL displayed similar alteration and expression signatures. Using acquired paclitaxel and epothilone B resistance as first-line AMD failure models, we show that a stable collateral resistance to gefitinib can be relayed by entering a dynamic, drug-tolerant persister state where AXL acts as bypass signal. Delayed AXL degradation rendered this persistence to become stably resistant. We probed this degradation process using a new EGFR-TKI candidate YD and demonstrated that AXL bypass-driven collateral resistance can be suppressed pharmacologically. The findings emphasize that AXL bypass track is employed by chemoresistant cancer cells upon EGFR inhibition to enter a persister state and evolve resistance to EGFR-TKIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8016
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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