HSP90 inhibition overcomes ibrutinib resistance in mantle cell lymphoma

Caron Jacobson, Nadja Kopp, Jacob V. Layer, Robert A. Redd, Sebastian Tschuri, Sarah Haebe, Diederik van Bodegom, Liat Bird, Amanda L. Christie, Alexandra Christodoulou, Amy Saur, Trevor Tivey, Stefanie Zapf, Deepak Bararia, Ursula Zimber-Strobl, Scott J. Rodig, Oliver Weigert and David M. Weinstock

Key Points

  • Inhibition of HSP90 targets multiple dependences in mantle cell lymphoma.

  • Clinically available HSP90 inhibitors overcome ibrutinib resistance in vitro and in vivo.


The Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor ibrutinib induces responses in 70% of patients with relapsed and refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Intrinsic resistance can occur through activation of the nonclassical NF-κB pathway and acquired resistance may involve the BTK C481S mutation. Outcomes after ibrutinib failure are dismal, indicating an unmet medical need. We reasoned that newer heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitors could overcome ibrutinib resistance by targeting multiple oncogenic pathways in MCL. HSP90 inhibition induced the complete degradation of both BTK and IκB kinase α in MCL lines and CD40-dependent B cells, with downstream loss of MAPK and nonclassical NF-κB signaling. A proteome-wide analysis in MCL lines and an MCL patient-derived xenograft identified a restricted set of targets from HSP90 inhibition that were enriched for factors involved in B-cell receptor and JAK/STAT signaling, the nonclassical NF-κB pathway, cell-cycle regulation, and DNA repair. Finally, multiple HSP90 inhibitors potently killed MCL lines in vitro, and the clinical agent AUY922 was active in vivo against both patient-derived and cell-line xenografts. Together, these findings define the HSP90-dependent proteome in MCL. Considering the disappointing clinical activity of HSP90 inhibitors in other contexts, trials in patients with MCL will be essential for defining the efficacy of and mechanisms of resistance after ibrutinib failure.

  • Submitted April 15, 2016.
  • Accepted September 29, 2016.
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