Background: Targeted approaches for inhibiting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and other receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in glioblastoma (GBM) have led to therapeutic resistance and little clinical benefit, raising the need for the development of alternative strategies. Endogenous LRIG1 (Leucine-rich Repeats and ImmunoGlobulin-like domains protein 1) is an RTK inhibitory protein required for stem cell maintenance, and we previously demonstrated the soluble ectodomain of LRIG1 (sLRIG1) to potently inhibit GBM growth in vitro and in vivo.
Methods: Here, we generated a recombinant protein of the ectodomain of LRIG1 (sLRIG1) and determined its activity in various cellular GBM models including patient-derived stem-like cells and patient organoids. We used proliferation, adhesion, and invasion assays, and performed gene and protein expression studies. Proximity ligation assay and NanoBiT complementation technology were applied to assess protein-protein interactions.
Results: We show that recombinant sLRIG1 downregulates EGFRvIII but not EGFR, and reduces proliferation in GBM cells, irrespective of their EGFR expression status. We find that sLRIG1 targets and downregulates a wide range of RTKs, including AXL, and alters GBM cell adhesion. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that LRIG1 interferes with AXL but not with EGFR dimerization.
Conclusions: These results identify AXL as a novel sLRIG1 target and show that LRIG1-mediated RTK downregulation depends on direct protein interaction. The pan-RTK inhibitory activity of sLRIG1 warrants further investigation for new GBM treatment approaches.
- receptor tyrosine kinase