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Yoon Woo Koh, Manisha H Shah, Kitty Agarwal, Samantha K McCarty, Bon Seok Koo, Victoria J Brendel, Chaojie Wang, Kyle Porter, David Jarjoura, Motoyasu Saji, and Matthew D Ringel

Clinical trials using kinase inhibitors have demonstrated transient partial responses and disease control in patients with progressive medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). The goal of this study was to identify potential combinatorial strategies to improve on these results using sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor with activity in MTC, as a base compound to explore signaling that might predict synergystic interactions. Two human MTC cell lines, TT and MZ-CRC-1, which harbor endogenous C634W or M918T RET mutations, respectively, were exposed to sorafenib, everolimus, and AZD6244 alone and in combination. 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrasodium bromide (MTT) and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage assays were performed to measure cell survival and apoptosis. Western blots were performed to confirm activity of the compounds and to determine possible mechanisms of resistance and predictors of synergy. As a solitary agent, sorafenib was the most active compound on MTT assay. Western blots confirmed that sorafenib, everolimus, and AZD6244 inhibited their anticipated targets. At concentrations below its IC50, sorafenib-treated TT and MZ-CRC-1 cells demonstrated transient inhibition and then re-activation of Erk over 6 h. In concordance, synergistic effects were only identified using sorafenib in combination with the Mek inhibitor AZD6244 (P<0.001 for each cell line). Cells treated with everolimus demonstrated activation of Akt and Ret via TORC2 complex-dependent and TORC2 complex-independent mechanisms respectively. Everolimus was neither additive nor syngergistic in combination with sorafenib or AZD6244. In conclusion, sorafenib combined with a Mek inhibitor demonstrated synergy in MTC cells in vitro. Mechanisms of resistance to everolimus in MTC cells likely involved TORC2-dependent and TORC2-independent pathways.

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Kyungmin Lee, Sang-Hyun Lee, Wooil Kim, Jangwook Lee, Jong-Gil Park, Jang-Seong Kim, Jung Tae Kim, Yea Eun Kang, Minho Shong, Hyo Jin Lee, Jin-Man Kim, Won Gu Kim, Bon Seok Koo, Koon Soon Kim, and Jeong-Ki Min

Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rapidly growing, highly metastatic cancer with limited therapeutic alternatives, thus targeted therapies need to be developed. This study aimed to examine desmoglein 2 (Dsg2) expression in ATC and its biological role and potential as a therapeutic target in ATC. Consequently, Dsg2 was downregulated or aberrantly expressed in ATC tissues. ATC patients with low Dsg2 expression levels also presented with distant metastasis. Dsg2 depletion significantly increased cell migration and invasion, with a relatively limited effect on ATC cell proliferation in vitro and increased distant metastasis in vivo. Dsg2 knockdown induced cell motility through the hepatocyte growth factor receptor (HGFR, c-Met)/Src/Rac1 signaling axis, with no alterations in the expression of EMT-related molecules. Further, specific targeting of c-Met significantly inhibited the motility of shDsg2-depleted ATC cells. Decreased membrane Dsg2 expression increased the metastatic potential of ATC cells. These results indicate that Dsg2 plays an important role in ATC cell migration and invasiveness. Therapies targeting c-Met might be effective among ATC patients with low membrane Dsg2 expression levels, indicating that the analysis of Dsg2 expression potentially provides novel insights into treatment strategies for ATC.