Synergistic action of the MCL-1 inhibitor S63845 with current therapies in preclinical models of triple-negative and HER2-amplified breast cancer.
The development of BH3 mimetics, which antagonize prosurvival proteins of the BCL-2 family, represents a potential breakthrough in cancer therapy. Targeting the prosurvival member MCL-1 has been an area of intense interest because it is frequently deregulated in cancer. In breast cancer, MCL-1 is often amplified, and high expression predicts poor patient outcome. We tested the MCL-1 inhibitor S63845 in breast cancer cell lines and patient-derived xenografts with high expression of MCL-1. S63845 displayed synergistic activity with docetaxel in triple-negative breast cancer and with trastuzumab or lapatinib in HER2-amplified breast cancer. Using S63845-resistant cells combined with CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas9 (CRISPR-associated 9) technology, we identified deletion of BAK and up-regulation of prosurvival proteins as potential mechanisms that confer resistance to S63845 in breast cancer. Collectively, our findings provide a strong rationale for the clinical evaluation of MCL-1 inhibitors in breast cancer.