Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a leading cause of cancer deaths. Current companion diagnostics use driver mutation sequencing to select patients for molecularly targeted agents (MTA), even though most patients lack actionable mutations. These diagnostics utilize static biomarkers, ignoring real-time tumor cell biology.
Trametinib is FDA-approved in combination with dabrafenib for BRAF V600E-positive NSCLC, however, it has plausible utility beyond these patients. We sought to identify novel biomarkers for maximizing trametinib application.
Trametinib responses were evaluated in 12 EGFR/BRAF wild-type (WT) NSCLC cell lines with diverse RAS mutational status. We identified three response categories by colony assay. Trametinib-induced molecular dynamics were studied using immunoassays and apoptosis/necrosis assays, to identify predictive response biomarkers.
p27 accumulation and cyclin D1 downregulation suggested universal cell cycle arrest with trametinib. However, 4 cell lines showed PARP cleavage and 8 showed increased phospho-4E-BP1, suggesting varied cellular outcomes from apoptosis, necrosis, senescence to autophagy. Cleaved PARP, phospho-4E-BP1 and phospho-AKT expression can predict these outcomes.
Trametinib monotherapy outcome may depend upon cellular context more than oncogenic mutation status. In BRAF WT NSCLC, trametinib may be best suited for combination therapy and dynamic biomarkers could select combinations and predict responses.