The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) is important in many human cancers, and is the target of several FDA-approved therapeutic agents. Currently-used EGFR-targeted antibody therapeutics were specifically selected to inhibit EGF binding and EGF-dependent activation of the receptor. However, it is now clear that many EGFR-dependent cancers arise from oncogenic mutations in EGFR that promote ligand-independent signaling - which may not be blocked by antibodies such as cetuximab. Studies of oncogenically activated EGFR from lung cancer patients have been key in advancing understanding of how the EGFR kinase domain is regulated. An increasing number of mutations are being identified in the extracellular region of all EGFR family members, in glioblastoma and other cancers. These open up a similar opportunity for fully understanding regulation of the extracellular region - an important goal since current structure-based models of EGFR receptor activation do not explain (or predict) which of these somatic mutations will activate the receptors. In this proposal we first ask how oncogenic mutations in the EGFR extracellular region can promote ligand-independent activation of the receptor, and also refine our understanding of how the extracellular region of EGFR is maintained in its inactive state. In a second aim, we ask what are the most effective strategies to inhibit oncogenically-activated EGFR using antibody therapeutics. Agents (such as cetuximab) that simply block ligand binding may not be effective inhibitors of receptors that are activated by oncogenic mutation. We will compare the ability of different EGFR-targeted antibodies and novel single chain antibody-based agents (VHH domains) to inhibit constitutive (ligand-independent) signaling by mutated EGFR variants found in cancers. We will combine cellular studies with in vitro and structural analyses of the EGFR extracellular region to investigate these questions.
Our Specific Aims are: 1: To understand which intramolecular interactions contribute to extracellular autoinhibition of EGFR, and how they are reversed by ligand binding and somatic mutations found in cancer patients. 2: To test the hypothesis that known oncogenic mutations in EGFR differentially affect the inhibitory activity of EGFR-targeted antibodies and of novel VHH domain agents. In sum, these studies will shed important new light on the mechanisms through which oncogenic mutations cause constitutive activation of EGFR and other ErbB receptors, while also identifying new antibodies that are uniquely able to block ligand-independent activation of EGFR mutants. Such agents will be of high priority for future clinical development.

Public Health Relevance

All antibodies against the epidermal growth factor that are currently in use for cancer therapy - such as cetuximab - target the wild-type receptor and block ligand-dependent activation. However, it is now clear that many EGFR-driven cancers arise from oncogenic mutations in EGFR (both intra- and extracellular), and currently available antibody drugs may not work for these cancers. Understanding how oncogenic EGFR mutations activate the receptor, and how they influence binding of a panel of novel antibodies, will define which agents in this panel should be developed for clinical application with the highest priority.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
7R01CA112552-11
Application #
9181106
Study Section
Macromolecular Structure and Function C Study Section (MSFC)
Program Officer
Knowlton, John R
Project Start
2016-01-01
Project End
2016-07-31
Budget Start
2016-01-01
Budget End
2016-07-31
Support Year
11
Fiscal Year
2015
Total Cost
$133,745
Indirect Cost
$50,155
Name
Yale University
Department
Type
Other Domestic Higher Education
DUNS #
043207562
City
New Haven
State
CT
Country
United States
Zip Code
06520
Bagchi, Atrish; Haidar, Jaafar N; Eastman, Scott W et al. (2017) Molecular Basis for Necitumumab Inhibition of EGFR Variants Associated with Acquired Cetuximab Resistance. Mol Cancer Ther :
Freed, Daniel M; Bessman, Nicholas J; Kiyatkin, Anatoly et al. (2017) EGFR Ligands Differentially Stabilize Receptor Dimers to Specify Signaling Kinetics. Cell 171:683-695.e18
Emptage, Ryan P; Lemmon, Mark A; Ferguson, Kathryn M (2017) Molecular determinants of KA1 domain-mediated autoinhibition and phospholipid activation of MARK1 kinase. Biochem J 474:385-398
Bessman, Nicholas J; Bagchi, Atrish; Ferguson, Kathryn M et al. (2014) Complex relationship between ligand binding and dimerization in the epidermal growth factor receptor. Cell Rep 9:1306-17
Lemmon, Mark A; Schlessinger, Joseph; Ferguson, Kathryn M (2014) The EGFR family: not so prototypical receptor tyrosine kinases. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 6:a020768
Schmitz, Karl R; Bagchi, Atrish; Roovers, Rob C et al. (2013) Structural evaluation of EGFR inhibition mechanisms for nanobodies/VHH domains. Structure 21:1214-24
Roovers, Rob C; Vosjan, Maria J W D; Laeremans, Toon et al. (2011) A biparatopic anti-EGFR nanobody efficiently inhibits solid tumour growth. Int J Cancer 129:2013-24
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Schmiedel, Judith; Blaukat, Andree; Li, Shiqing et al. (2008) Matuzumab binding to EGFR prevents the conformational rearrangement required for dimerization. Cancer Cell 13:365-73
Li, Shiqing; Kussie, Paul; Ferguson, Kathryn M (2008) Structural basis for EGF receptor inhibition by the therapeutic antibody IMC-11F8. Structure 16:216-27

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