Inhibition of Src with AZD0530 Reveals the Src-Focal Adhesion Kinase Complex as a Novel Therapeutic Target in Papillary and Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

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Abstract

Context:

Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and Src are overexpressed and activated in many cancers and have been associated with tumor progression. The role of the Src-FAK complex has not been characterized in papillary and anaplastic thyroid cancer (PTC and ATC).

Objective:

The goal of this study was to determine the role of Src and FAK in the growth and invasion of PTC and ATC.

Design:

PTC and ATC cells were treated with the oral Src inhibitor, AZD0530, to determine the consequences of Src inhibition using growth and invasion assays. FAK and phospho-FAK levels were analyzed in cell lines as well as in PTC tumor samples.

Results:

AZD0530 treatment inhibited the growth and invasion in four of five thyroid cancer cell lines, and inhibition did not correlate with basal levels of phospho-Src. Instead, we show for the first time that FAK, a critical substrate and effector of Src, is phosphorylated at tyrosine residue 861 (pY861) in PTC and ATC cells, and high levels of phospho-FAK correlate with AZD0530 sensitivity. We further showed that pY861-FAK phosphorylation is Src-dependent. Sensitivity to AZD0530 was confirmed using a preclinical three-dimensional culture model. Phospho-ERK1/2 was not affected by AZD0530, indicating that Src signaling does not require MAPK. Finally, FAK and pY861-FAK were expressed in 10 of 10 and five of 10 PTC tumors, respectively.

Conclusions:

Inhibition of the Src-FAK complex represents a promising therapeutic strategy for patients with advanced thyroid cancer, and phospho-FAK represents a potential biomarker for response.

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