WEE1 inhibitor, AZD1775, overcomes trastuzumab resistance by targeting cancer stem-like properties in HER2-positive breast cancer
Sand A, Piacsek M, Donohoe DL, et al. WEE1 inhibitor, AZD1775, overcomes trastuzumab resistance by targeting cancer stem-like properties in HER2-positive breast cancer. Cancer Lett. 2020;472:119-131. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2019.12.023.
Although trastuzumab has greatly improved the outcome of HER2-positive breast cancer, the emergence of resistance hampers its clinical benefits. Trastuzumab resistance is a multi-factorial consequence predominantly due to presence of cancer stem-like cells (CSCs). AZD1775, a potent anti-cancer agent targeting WEE1 kinase to drive tumor cells with DNA damage to premature mitosis, has previously shown high efficacies when targeting different cancers with a well-tolerated cytotoxic profile, but has not been evaluated in trastuzumab-resistant (TrR) breast cancer. We sought to investigate the effect of AZD1775 on cancer stem-like cell (CSC) properties, apoptosis, cell cycle regulation in TrR breast cancer. Our study for the first time demonstrated that AZD1775 induces apoptosis and arrests TrR cells at G2/M phase. More importantly, AZD1775 effectively targeted CSC properties by suppressing MUC1 expression levels. AZD1775 administration also induced apoptosis in our in-house patient-derived tumor cell line at passage 0, implying its significant clinical relevance. These findings highlight the potential clinical application of AZD1775 in overcoming trastuzumab resistance in breast cancer.