Axl is a novel target of celastrol that inhibits cell proliferation and migration, and increases the cytotoxicity of gefitinib in EGFR mutant non‑small cell lung cancer cells.
Mol Med Rep. 2019 Apr ;19(4):3230-3236. Epub 2019 Feb 14. PMID: 30816529
Youn Ju Lee
Gefitinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR‑TKI) is an excellent therapeutic agent to treat EGFR mutation‑positive non‑small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the initial response decreases as chemoresistance develops. In the present study, gefitinib‑resistant EGFR mutant NSCLC PC‑9/GR cells were established to examine the characteristics and mechanisms associated with chemoresistance. Axl expression in PC‑9/GR cells was transcriptionally upregulated, since Axl protein and mRNA expression levels were identified to be increased according to western blot analysis and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction results. The inhibitory effect of celastrol on Axl protein expression level, cell viability and clonogenicity were identified in parental and gefitinib‑resistant PC‑9 cells. In addition, treatment of PC‑9/GR cells with celastrol and gefitinib in combination was demonstrated to synergistically suppress Axl protein expression level, cell proliferation and migration. Taken together, upregulation of Axl expression seems to be associated with chemoresistance of PC‑9/GR cells. Furthermore, celastrol targets Axl to exert its anticancer effects in order to increase the susceptibility of PC‑9/GR cellsto gefitinib and overcome chemoresistance.