Preclinical Rationale for Use of the Clinically Available Multitargeted Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Crizotinib in ROS1-Translocated Lung Cancer

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Most clinically available small-molecule kinase inhibitors are multi-targeted and can inhibit multiple kinases. Our driving hypothesis was that one of these multi-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) would have antiproliferative activity against ROS1 translocated non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


We selected NSCLC cell lines—A549 (KRAS G12S), NCI-H3255 (EGFR L858R), NCI-H3122 (EML4-ALK E13;A20), and HCC78 (SLC34A2-ROS1)—to evaluate the antiproliferative effects of submicromolar concentrations of the multitargeted TKIs imatinib, sorafenib, erlotinib, and crizotinib.


Imatinib and sorafenib were unable to significantly inhibit proliferation of the aforementioned cell lines. Erlotinib only inhibited EGFR mutated NCI-H3255, as expected. Crizotinib displayed dose-dependent inhibition of anaplastic lymphoma kinase translocated NCI-H3122 and also ROS1-translocated HCC78. The SLC34A2-ROS1 translocated HCC78 cell line had phosphorylated levels of ROS1, AKT, and ERK inhibited by submicromolar doses of crizotinib, and subsequently underwent apoptosis.


The ROS1-translocated HCC78 cell line was sensitive to inhibition by the multitargeted ALK/MET/RON/ROS1 inhibitor crizotinib. Preclinical data supports the clinical development of crizotinib for ROS1-translocated NSCLC.

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