The insulin-like growth factor (IGF)/insulin receptors are members of the superfamily of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases. The insulin and type I IGF-I receptors (IGF-1R) have very similar structure and share high homology (∼84%) in the kinase domain. Their dimeric structure allows for the formation of either holo or hybrid receptors. Thus, targeting of any individual receptor has been a challenge. We have previously shown that the insulin receptor is expressed in tamoxifen resistant breast cancer cell lines. Therefore, specific targeting might be a useful strategy to block this pathway. The antagonist S961 is a single chain peptide that binds insulin receptor and has been reported to have partial antagonist activity. The affinity of S961 for the insulin receptor is comparable to that of insulin and the selectivity of the insulin receptor versus IGF1 is higher than that of insulin itself (Sturis et al). To determine if S961 has activity in breast cancer cells, we tested its ability to disrupt insulin and IGF-I signaling and growth in a panel of cancer cell lines (MCF-7L, MCF-7L TamR, MDA-231, and HepG2 cells). MCF-7L cells express high levels of IGF1, while HepG2 express mostly insulin receptor. Pre-incubation with S961 significantly suppressed p-Akt and p-MAPK after insulin stimulation in the HepG2, but not in MCF-7L. In contrast, insulin receptor stimulation in MCF-7L TamR cells, which do not express IGF1R, was inhibited by S961. Even a 1000-fold increase in S961 was unable to suppress insulin receptor activation in cells expressing both insulin receptor and IGF1R. S961 inhibits insulin-stimulate cell cycle progression in MCF7L TamR cells. In these TamR cells, S961 also suppresses colony formation in anchorage independent growth assays. These data suggest S961 is an effective inhibitor of insulin receptor activation but only when little IGF1R is expressed. Thus, insulin receptor targeting might be useful in the management of endocrine resistant breast cancer.

Citation Format: Kelly LaPara, Douglas Yee. Targeting the insulin receptor with a small peptide (S961) in cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium: 2014 Dec 9-13; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(9 Suppl):Abstract nr P4-06-03.