Original Article

Osimertinib (AZD9291) decreases programmed death ligand-1 in EGFR-mutated non-small cell lung cancer cells

Authors: JIANG Xiao-Ming, XU Yu-Lian, HUANG Mu-Yang, ZHANG Le-Le, SU Min-Xia, CHEN Xiuping, LU Jin-Jian
Corresponding to: JIAG Xiao-Ming
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2017.123


Osimertinib (AZD9291) is a third-generation epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that has been approved for the treatment of EGFR-mutated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In NSCLC patients, an EGFR mutation is likely to be correlated with high levels of expression of programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1). Here, we showed that osimertinib decreased PD-L1 expression in human EGFR mutant NSCLC cells in vitro. Osimertinib (125 nmol/L) markedly suppressed PD-L1 mRNA expression in both NCI-H1975 and HCC827 cells. Pretreatment with the N-linked glycosylation inhibitor tunicamycin, osimertinib clearly decreased the production of new PD-L1 protein probably due to a reduction in mRNA. After blocking transcription and translation processes with actinomycin D and cycloheximide, respectively, osimertinib continued to reduce the expression of PD-L1, demonstrating that osimertinib might degrade PD-L1 at the post-translational level, which was confirmed by a cycloheximide chase assay, revealing that osimertinib (125 nmol/L) decreased the half-life of PD-L1 from approximately 17.8 h and 13.8 h to 8.6 h and 4.6 h, respectively, in NCI-H1975 and HCC827 cells. Pretreatment with the proteasome inhibitors (MG-132 or bortezomib) blocked the osimertinibinduced degradation of PD-L1, but an inhibitor of autophagy (chloroquine) did not. In addition, inhibition of GSK3β by LiCl prevented osimertinib-induced PD-L1 degradation. The results demonstrate that osimertinib reduces PD-L1 mRNA expression and induces its protein degradation, suggesting that osimertinib may reactivate the immune activity of T cells in the tumor microenvironment in EGFRmutated NSCLC patients.
Keywords: non-small cell lung cancer; EGFR; osimertinib; PD-L1; ubiquitin-proteasome system; MG-132; bortezomib; GSK3β; LiCl