YM155 sensitizes non-small cell lung cancer cells to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors through the mechanism of autophagy induction.Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2018; 1864(12):3786-3798BB
Resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs), such as erlotinib and gefitinib, is a major clinical problem in the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). YM155 is a survivin small molecule inhibitor and has been demonstrated to induce cancer cell apoptosis and autophagy. EGFR-TKIs have been known to induce cancer cell autophagy. In this study, we showed that YM155 markedly enhanced the sensitivity of erlotinib to EGFR-TKI resistant NSCLC cell lines H1650 (EGFR exon 19 deletion and PTEN loss) and A549 (EGFR wild type and KRAS mutation) through inducing autophagy-dependent apoptosis and autophagic cell death. The effects of YM155 combined with erlotinib on apoptosis and autophagy inductions were more obvious than those of YM155 in combination with survivin knockdown by siRNA transfection, suggesting that YM155 induced autophagy and apoptosis in the NSCLC cells partially depend on survivin downregulation. Meanwhile, we found that the AKT/mTOR pathway is involved in modulation of survivin downregulation and autophagy induction caused by YM155. In addition, YM155 can induce DNA damage in H1650 and A549 cell lines. Moreover, combining erlotinib further augmented DNA damage by YM155, which were retarded by autophagy inhibitor 3MA, or knockdown of autophagy-related protein Beclin 1, revealing that YM155 induced DNA damage is autophagy-dependent. Similar results were also observed in vivo xenograft experiments. Therefore, combination of YM155 and erlotinib offers a promising therapeutic strategy in NSCLC with EGFR-TKI resistant phenotype.