Clonal selection with Ras pathway activation mediates secondary clinical resistance to selective FLT3 inhibition in acute myeloid leukemia
McMahon, C. et. al., Cancer Discovery (2019)
Gilteritinib is a potent and selective FLT3 kinase inhibitor with single-agent clinical efficacy in relapsed/refractory FLT3-mutated AML. In this context, however, gilteritinib is not curative and response duration is limited by the development of secondary resistance. To evaluate resistance mechanisms, we analyzed baseline and progression samples from patients treated on clinical trials of gilteritinib. Targeted next-generation sequencing at the time of AML progression on gilteritinib identified treatment-emergent mutations that activate RAS/MAPK pathway signaling, most commonly in NRAS or KRAS. Less frequently, secondary FLT3-F691L gatekeeper mutations or BCR-ABL1 fusions were identified at progression. Single-cell targeted DNA sequencing revealed diverse patterns of clonal selection and evolution in response to FLT3 inhibition, including the emergence of RAS mutations in FLT3-mutated subclones, the expansion of alternative FLT3-wild-type subclones, or both patterns simultaneously. These data illustrate dynamic and complex changes in clonal architecture underlying response and resistance to mutation-selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy in AML.