DOI: 10.1158/1538-7445.advbc23-b066 ISSN: 1538-7445

Abstract B066: PDGFR upregulation functions as a bypass mechanism contributing to FGFR inhibitor resistance in metastatic breast cancer

Mitchell Ayers, Michael Wendt
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


Breast cancer (BC) is the most diagnosed cancer in females in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer related deaths among women. The fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) signaling pathway is frequently activated in BC, making it an attractive therapeutic target, especially in metastatic disease. However, clinical trials using FGFR inhibitors in BC have been disappointing in comparison to other cancer types treated with these therapies. As a result, BC patients with activated FGFR do not have a targeted therapeutic option. Failure of FGFR inhibitors is indicative of intrinsic or acquired resistance mechanisms in metastatic BC. Herein we demonstrate significant efficacy of the FGFR inhibitor, pemigatinib, in the 4T07 murine model of BC utilizing a tail vein model to induce pulmonary tumors. Despite this initial response, pemigatinib fails to eliminate minimal residual disease (MRD) and allows for accelerated tumor return after pemigatinib cessation. Characterizing the MRD by IHC following pemigatinib treatment shows that expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) is significantly increased on tumor cells. This rise in PDGFR expression following pemigatinib treatment increases the responsiveness of 4T07 cells to platelet-derived growth factor ligand indicating PDGFR may act as an alternate signaling pathway bypassing FGFR signaling. Mechanistically, previous studies indicate that PDGFR protein expression is transcriptionally repressed by restriction of enhancer positioning by the CTCF insulator. DNA methylation surrounding CTCF causes its dissociation enhancing protein expression of PDGFR. Along these lines cotreatment with a DNA methyl transferase inhibitor prevents the increase of PDGFR protein expression induced by pemigatinib. Overall, our study determined that a highly potent FGFR inhibitor can inhibit tumor growth in a metastatic site, but it fails to eliminate MRD giving rise to tumor recurrence. Upregulation of PDGFR may act as a bypass mechanism of resistance allowing for tumor cell survival during pemigatinib treatment. Finally, our findings suggest that dual inhibition of DNA methylation and FGFR could improve patient response in metastatic BC.

Citation Format: Mitchell Ayers, Michael Wendt. PDGFR upregulation functions as a bypass mechanism contributing to FGFR inhibitor resistance in metastatic breast cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference in Cancer Research: Advances in Breast Cancer Research; 2023 Oct 19-22; San Diego, California. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2024;84(3 Suppl_1):Abstract nr B066.

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