Oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) patients show poor survival rates and there are few targeted molecular therapies available. However, components of the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) driven pathways are commonly mutated in OAC, typified by high frequency amplifications of the RTK ERBB2. ERBB2 can be therapeutically targeted, but this has limited clinical benefit due to the acquisition of drug resistance. Here we examined how OAC cells adapt to ERBB2 inhibition as they transition to a drug resistant state. ERBB2 inhibition triggers widespread remodelling of the accessible chromatin landscape and the underlying gene regulatory networks. The transcriptional regulators HNF4A and PPARGC1A play a key role in this network rewiring. Initially, inhibition of cell cycle associated gene expression programmes is observed, with compensatory increases in the programmes driving changes in metabolic activity. Both PPARGC1A and HNF4A are required for the acquisition of resistance to ERBB2 inhibition and PPARGC1A is instrumental in promoting a switch to dependency on oxidative phosphorylation. Our work therefore reveals the molecular pathways that support the acquisition of a resistant state and points to potential new therapeutic strategies to combat cellular adaptation and ensuing drug resistance.
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Manchester Cancer Research Centre