Therapeutic inhibition of the receptor tyrosine kinase AXL improves sensitivity to platinum and taxane in ovarian cancer

Jeanne M. Quinn, Molly M. Greenwade, Marguerite L. Palisoul, Gregory Opara, Katina Massad, Lei Guo, Peinan Zhao, Hollie Beck-Noia, Ian S. Hagemann, Andrea R. Hagemann, Carolyn K. McCourt, Premal H. Thaker, Matthew A. Powell, David G. Mutch, Katherine C. Fuh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Ovarian cancer, one of the deadliest malignancies in female cancer patients, is characterized by recurrence and poor response to cytotoxic chemotherapies. Fewer than 30% of patients with resistant disease will respond to additional chemotherapy treatments. This study aims to determine whether and how inhibition of the receptor tyrosine kinase AXL can restore sensitivity to first-line platinum and taxane therapy in ovarian cancer. AXL staining was quantified in a patient tissue microarray and correlated with chemoresponse of patients. We used small hairpin RNAs to knock down AXL expression and the small-molecule inhibitor BGB324 to inhibit AXL and assessed sensitivity of cell lines and primary patient-derived cells to chemotherapy. We quantified platinum accumulation by inductivity-coupled plasma phase mass spectrometry. Finally, we treated chemoresistant patient-derived xenografts with chemotherapy, BGB324, or chemotherapy plus BGB324 and monitored tumor burden. AXL expression was higher in chemoresistant patient tumors and cell lines than in chemosensitive tumors and cell lines. AXL staining significantly predicted chemoresponse. Knockdown and inhibition of AXL dose-dependently improved response to paclitaxel and carboplatin in both cell lines and primary cells. AXL inhibition increased platinum accumulation by 2-fold (*, P < 0.05). In vivo studies indicated that AXL inhibition enhanced the ability of chemotherapy to prevent tumor growth (****, P < 0.0001). AXL contributes to platinum and taxane resistance in ovarian cancer, and inhibition of AXL improves chemoresponse and accumulation of chemotherapy drugs. This study supports continued investigation into AXL as a clinical target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-398
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


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