Drug tolerant persister (DTP) cells enter into a reversible slow-cycling state after drug treatment. We performed proteomic characterization of the breast cancer (BC) DTP cell secretome after eribulin treatment. We showed that the growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) is a protein significantly over-secreted upon eribulin treatment. The biomarker potential of GDF15 was confirmed in 3D-cell culture models using BC cells lines and PDXs, as well as in a TNBC in vivo model. We also found that GDF15 is required for survival of DTP cells. Direct participation of GDF15 and its receptor GFRAL in eribulin-induction of DTPs was established by the enhanced cell killing of DTPs by eribulin seen under GDF15 and GFRAL loss of function assays. Finally, we showed that combination therapy of eribulin plus an anti-GDF15 antibody kills BC-DTP cells. Our results suggest that targeting GDF15 may help eradicate DTP cells and block the onset of acquired resistance.
Breast cancer; Drug tolerance; Secretome
Bellio C, Emperador M, Castellano P, Gris-Oliver A, Canals F, Sánchez-Pla A, et al. GDF15 Is an Eribulin Response Biomarker also Required for Survival of DTP Breast Cancer Cells. Cancers. 2022 May 23;14(10):2562.
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