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Pharmacological inhibitors of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) induce immunogenic cell death through on-target effects

Abstract : Immunogenic cell death (ICD) is clinically relevant because cytotoxicants that kill malignant cells via ICD elicit anticancer immune responses that prolong the effects of chemotherapies beyond treatment discontinuation. ICD is characterized by a series of stereotyped changes that increase the immunogenicity of dying cells: exposure of calreticulin on the cell surface, release of ATP and high mobility group box 1 protein, as well as a type I interferon response. Here, we examined the possibility that inhibition of an oncogenic kinase, anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), might trigger ICD in anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) in which ALK is activated due to a chromosomal translocation. Multiple lines of evidence plead in favor of specific ICD-inducing effects of crizotinib and ceritinib in ALK-dependent ALCL: (i) they induce ICD stigmata at pharmacologically relevant, low concentrations; (ii) can be mimicked in their ICD-inducing effects by ALK knockdown; (iii) lose their effects in the context of resistance-conferring ALK mutants; (iv) ICD-inducing effects are mimicked by inhibition of the signal transduction pathways operating downstream of ALK. When ceritinib-treated murine ALK-expressing ALCL cells were inoculated into the left flank of immunocompetent syngeneic mice, they induced an immune response that slowed down the growth of live ALCL cells implanted in the right flank. Although ceritinib induced a transient shrinkage of tumors in lymphoma-bearing mice, irrespective of their immunocompetence, relapses occurred more frequently in the context of immunodeficiency, reducing the effects of ceritinib on survival by approximately 50%. Complete cure only occurred in immunocompetent mice and conferred protection to rechallenge with the same ALK-expressing lymphoma but not with another unrelated lymphoma. Moreover, immunotherapy with PD-1 blockade tended to increase cure rates. Altogether, these results support the contention that specific ALK inhibition stimulates the immune system by inducing ICD in ALKpositive ALCL.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 23, 2021 - 9:36:08 AM
Last modification on : Monday, July 26, 2021 - 2:37:20 PM

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Maria Perez-Lanzon, Isabelle Martins, Peng Liu, Oliver Kepp, Véronique Minard-Colin, et al.. Pharmacological inhibitors of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) induce immunogenic cell death through on-target effects. Cell Death and Disease, Nature Publishing Group, 2021, 12 (8), ⟨10.1038/s41419-021-03997-x⟩. ⟨hal-03297008⟩

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