Publication Date



NPJ Breast Cancer


Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for 15-20% of breast cancer cases in the United States. Systemic neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT), with or without immunotherapy, is the current standard of care for patients with early-stage TNBC. However, up to 70% of TNBC patients have significant residual disease once NACT is completed, which is associated with a high risk of developing recurrence within two to three years of surgical resection. To identify targetable vulnerabilities in chemoresistant TNBC, we generated longitudinal patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models from TNBC tumors before and after patients received NACT. We then compiled transcriptomes and drug response profiles for all models. Transcriptomic analysis identified the enrichment of aberrant protein homeostasis pathways in models from post-NACT tumors relative to pre-NACT tumors. This observation correlated with increased sensitivity in vitro to inhibitors targeting the proteasome, heat shock proteins, and neddylation pathways. Pevonedistat, a drug annotated as a NEDD8-activating enzyme (NAE) inhibitor, was prioritized for validation in vivo and demonstrated efficacy as a single agent in multiple PDX models of TNBC. Pharmacotranscriptomic analysis identified a pathway-level correlation between pevonedistat activity and post-translational modification (PTM) machinery, particularly involving neddylation and sumoylation targets. Elevated levels of both NEDD8 and SUMO1 were observed in models exhibiting a favorable response to pevonedistat compared to those with a less favorable response in vivo. Moreover, a correlation emerged between the expression of neddylation-regulated pathways and tumor response to pevonedistat, indicating that targeting these PTM pathways may prove effective in combating chemoresistant TNBC.



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