Combined effect of cabozantinib and gefitinib in crizotinib-resistant lung tumors harboring ROS1 fusions

Yuka Kato, Kiichiro Ninomiya, Kadoaki Ohashi, Shuta Tomida, Go Makimoto, Hiromi Watanabe, Kenichiro Kudo, Shingo Matsumoto, Shigeki Umemura, Koichi Goto, Eiki Ichihara, Takashi Ninomiya, Toshio Kubo, Akiko Sato, Katsuyuki Hotta, Masahiro Tabata, Shinichi Toyooka, Yoshinobu Maeda, Katsuyuki Kiura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The ROS1 tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) crizotinib has shown dramatic effects in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring ROS1 fusion genes. However, patients inevitably develop resistance to this agent. Therefore, a new treatment strategy is required for lung tumors with ROS1 fusion genes. In the present study, lung cancer cell lines, HCC78 harboring SLC34A2-ROS1 and ABC-20 harboring CD74-ROS1, were used as cell line-based resistance models. Crizotinib-resistant HCC78R cells were established from HCC78. We comprehensively screened the resistant cells using a phosphor-receptor tyrosine kinase array and RNA sequence analysis by next-generation sequencing. HCC78R cells showed upregulation of HB-EGF and activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) phosphorylation and the EGFR signaling pathway. Recombinant HB-EGF or EGF rendered HCC78 cells or ABC-20 cells resistant to crizotinib. RNA sequence analysis by next-generation sequencing revealed the upregulation of AXL in HCC78R cells. HCC78R cells showed marked sensitivity to EGFR-TKI or anti-EGFR antibody treatment in vitro. Combinations of an AXL inhibitor, cabozantinib or gilteritinib, and an EGFR-TKI were more effective against HCC78R cells than monotherapy with an EGFR-TKI or AXL inhibitor. The combination of cabozantinib and gefitinib effectively inhibited the growth of HCC78R tumors in an in vivo xenograft model of NOG mice. The results of this study indicated that HB-EGF/EGFR and AXL play roles in crizotinib resistance in lung cancers harboring ROS1 fusions. The combination of cabozantinib and EGFR-TKI may represent a useful alternative treatment strategy for patients with advanced NSCLC harboring ROS1 fusion genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3149-3158
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • AXL
  • HB-EGF
  • ROS1 fusion genes
  • cabozantinib
  • non-small lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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