It is well established that deregulation of the PI3K signaling pathway plays an important role in the etiology of human malignancies including those of hematologic origin. In 30–50% of solid tumors, oncogenic activation of the PI3K pathway is the result of gain-of-function mutations in the PI3K p110α isoform or due to the loss-of-function of the PTEN phosphatase that is responsible for PI3K downregulation. In B cell malignancies these mutations are rarely observed in spite of the fact that PI3K pathway activation is commonly observed and often essential for tumor cell growth and survival. In this case, PI3K pathway activation has been shown to result from constitutive B cell receptor (BCR) activation and/or from exposure to survival factors present in the microenvironment. The activation of the PI3K pathway by cell surface receptors is directly mediated by the Class I isoforms (α, β, δ, and γ), however, their relative contribution in B cell tumors is unknown. Interestingly, genetic and pharmacological approaches that specifically inactivate the p110δ isoform have demonstrated its important role in normal B cell signaling in response to multiple factors including antigen, CD40L, BAFF, SDF-1 and CXCR13 making it an attractive target for therapeutic intervention in B cell malignancies. CAL-101 is an oral p110δ specific inhibitor which is currently being evaluated in a phase I clinical trial for the treatment of patients with select hematologic malignancies. This compound is a novel potent p110δ inhibitor with an IC50 of 2.5 nM against purified p110δ and EC50 of 65 nM in p110δ-mediated basophil activation in whole blood. CAL-101 demonstrates 300-, 200-, and 40-fold selectivity over the other class I family members (α, β, and, γ respectively) and no activity against class II and III PI3K family members or other PI3K-related proteins including mTOR and DNA-PK. Furthermore, a kinome-wide screen failed to detect activity against any additional kinases. To investigate the potential role of p110δ in B cell hematologic tumors we screened a wide range of leukemia and lymphoma cell lines for constitutive PI3K pathway activation. The expression of p110δ was observed in >90% of these cell lines and in many cases was accompanied by constitutive Akt phosphorylation. In this context, CAL-101 was able to reduce p-Akt levels and block additional downstream effectors such as p-S6, and GSK-3β in cells that represent a range of tumor types including follicular lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Furthermore, treatment with CAL-101 resulted in growth suppression and induction of apoptosis which was accompanied by PARP and caspase-3 cleavage. Growing evidence suggests that signals from the microenviroment are essential for the expansion, homing, and survival of malignant B cells, in addition to promoting resistance to conventional drug therapy. To investigate the potential role p110δ plays during B cell signaling via interactions with the microenvironment, we examined invoked stimulation of leukemia and lymphoma cell lines with CXCL12, CXCL13, BAFF, or BCR crosslinking in the presence or absence of CAL-101. Stimulation with either chemokines or growth factors resulted in the phosphorylation of Akt which was inhibited by CAL-101 in a dose dependent manner. Moreover, p110δ inhibition with CAL-101 inhibits the chemotaxis of ALL and MCL cell lines to CXCL12. These studies have now been extended to the analysis of primary patient B-ALL and MCL cells to further establish preclinical proof of concept for therapeutic application of CAL-101. In summary, CAL-101 is a potent and selective p110δ kinase inhibitor with broad anti-tumor activity against cancer cells of hematologic origin. Our results demonstrate that selective inhibition of p110δ with CAL-101 inhibits malignant B cell growth, survival, and migration. Furthermore, p110δ inhibition may enhance the effect of cytotoxic drugs or overcome cell mediated drug resistance by inhibiting the protective signals of the microenviroment, providing a rational for combination therapy. These data suggest that p110δ may play an important role in regulating signals between malignant B cells and their microenvironment thereby providing the preclinical rationale for clinical evaluation of CAL-101 alone or in combination with cytotoxics or biologics in patients with hematologic malignancies.
Lannutti:Calistoga Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Meadows:Calistoga Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Kashishian:Calistoga Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Steiner:Calistoga Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Johnson:Calistoga Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding. Giese:Calistoga Pharmaceuticals: Employment.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.