Purpose: AXL receptor tyrosine kinase has been described as a relevant molecular marker and a key player in invasiveness, especially in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
Experimental Design: We evaluate the antitumor efficacy of the anti-AXL monoclonal antibody 20G7-D9 in several TNBC cell xenografts or patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models and decipher the underlying mechanisms. In a dataset of 254 basal-like breast cancer samples, genes correlated with AXL expression are enriched in EMT, migration, and invasion signaling pathways.
Results: Treatment with 20G7-D9 inhibited tumor growth and bone metastasis formation in AXL-positive TNBC cell xenografts or PDX, but not in AXL-negative PDX, highlighting AXL role in cancer growth and invasion. In vitro stimulation of AXL-positive cancer cells by its ligand GAS6 induced the expression of several EMT-associated genes (SNAIL, SLUG, and VIM) through an intracellular signaling implicating the transcription factor FRA-1, important in cell invasion and plasticity, and increased their migration/invasion capacity. 20G7-D9 induced AXL degradation and inhibited all AXL/GAS6–dependent cell signaling implicated in EMT and in cell migration/invasion.
Conclusions: The anti-AXL antibody 20G7-D9 represents a promising therapeutic strategy in TNBC with mesenchymal features by inhibiting AXL-dependent EMT, tumor growth, and metastasis formation. Clin Cancer Res; 1–11. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Cancer Research Online (http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received May 26, 2016.
- Revision received October 11, 2016.
- Accepted November 10, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.