Aaron N Hata 1 , 2 , Matthew J Niederst 1 , 2 , Hannah L Archibald 1 , Maria Gomez-Caraballo 1 , Faria M Siddiqui 1 , Hillary E Mulvey 1 , Yosef E Maruvka 1 , 3 , Fei Ji 4 , Hyo-eun C Bhang 5 , Viveksagar Krishnamurthy Radhakrishna 5 , Giulia Siravegna 6 , 7 , Haichuan Hu 1 , Sana Raoof 1 , 2 , Elizabeth Lockerman 1 , Anuj Kalsy 1 , Dana Lee 1 , Celina L Keating 5 , David A Ruddy 8 , Leah J Damon 1 , Adam S Crystal 1 , Carlotta Costa 1 , 2 , Zofia Piotrowska 1 , 2 , Alberto Bardelli 6 , 7 , Anthony J Iafrate 9 , Ruslan I Sadreyev 4 , 9 , Frank Stegmeier 5 , Gad Getz 1 , 3 , 9 , 10 , Lecia V Sequist 1 , 2 , Anthony C Faber 11 , Jeffrey A Engelman 1 , 2
01 February 2016
Although mechanisms of acquired resistance of EGFR mutant non-small cell lung cancers to EGFR inhibitors have been identified, little is known about how resistant clones evolve during drug therapy. Here, we observe that acquired resistance caused by the T790M gatekeeper mutation can occur either by selection of pre-existing T790M clones or via genetic evolution of initially T790M-negative drug tolerant cells. The path to resistance impacts the biology of the resistant clone, as those that evolved from drug tolerant cells had a diminished apoptotic response to third generation EGFR inhibitors that target T790M EGFR; treatment with navitoclax, an inhibitor of BCL-XL and BCL-2 restored sensitivity. We corroborated these findings using cultures derived directly from EGFR inhibitor-resistant patient tumors. These findings provide evidence that clinically relevant drug resistant cancer cells can both pre-exist and evolve from drug tolerant cells, and point to therapeutic opportunities to prevent or overcome resistance in the clinic.