In-frame insertions in exon 20 of HER2 are the most common HER2 mutations in patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a disease in which approved EGFR/HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) display poor efficiency and undesirable side effects due to their strong inhibition of wild-type (WT) EGFR. Here, we report a HER2-selective covalent TKI, JBJ-08–178–01, that targets multiple HER2 activating mutations, including exon 20 insertions as well as amplification. JBJ-08–178–01 displayed strong selectivity toward HER2 mutants over WT EGFR compared with other EGFR/HER2 TKIs. Determination of the crystal structure of HER2 in complex with JBJ-08–178–01 suggests that an interaction between the inhibitor and Ser783 may be responsible for HER2 selectivity. The compound showed strong antitumoral activity in HER2-mutant or amplified cancers in vitro and in vivo. Treatment with JBJ-08–178–01 also led to a reduction in total HER2 by promoting proteasomal degradation of the receptor. Taken together, the dual activity of JBJ-08–178–01 as a selective inhibitor and destabilizer of HER2 represents a combination that may lead to better efficacy and tolerance in patients with NSCLC harboring HER2 genetic alterations or amplification.
This study describes unique mechanisms of action of a new mutant-selective HER2 kinase inhibitor that reduces both kinase activity and protein levels of HER2 in lung cancer.