Introduction: Aberrant AXL expression plays a critical role in cancer cell migration, metastasis and drug resistance. Researchers have revealed that AXL signaling is also over expressed on cells associated with tumor microenvironment. These findings highlight AXL as an attractive drug candidate for targeting tumor evasion and metastasis. Here we present SKI-G-801, a small molecule inhibitor that targets phosphorylation of AXL (IC50 = 20 nM) and its downstream signals.

Methods: Inhibitory effects of SKI-G-801 on cancer viability (MTT and colony formation assay), invasion and migration (trans-well invasion assay) were examined in AXL high-expressing lung cancer cells in vitro. LLC2 lung and 4T1 breast cancer bearing mouse models were established. in addition, C57BL/6 mice were injected intravenously with B16F10 melanoma cells to establish lung metastasis model. Mice were administrated with 30 mg/kg of SKI-G-801 orally before (metastasis model) or after (syngeneic model) tumor injection. To elucidate the involvement of AXL inhibitor on tumor microenvironment, the population of T cells and myeloid cells was analyzed by flow cytometry from the LLC2 tumor.

Results: Treatment of SKI-G-801 showed strong inhibition of cancer migration and invasion, when its direct killing effect on cancer cells was modest. These results were reproduced in vivo test that pretreatment of SKI-G-801 significantly reduced metastatic burden in B16F10 model (p < 0.05). LLC2 and 4T1 tumors were decreased in SKI-G-801 treatment group (p < 0.05), but not in anthemic nude mice. CD3+CD8+ T cell population and memory Tc cells were increased in SKI- G-801 treatment group (p < 0.05). Especially, granzyme B+ Tc and gp70+ tumor specific Tc were increased (p < 0.05). SKI-G-801 increase the helper T cell population; CD3+CD4+ (p < 0.05), and CD44+ memory Th cells (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: SKI-G-801 demonstrates great potential in anti-cancer activity though immune responses. The anti-cancer effects lead to a reversal of the metastatic phenotype in animal model. Our results suggest that SKI-G-801 is a promising drug for prevention against metastatic cancer.

Citation Format: Chun-Feng Xin, Sung Eun Kim, Kyoung-Ho Pyo, Ha Ni Jo, Jae Seok Cho, Jae Hwan Kim, Wongeun Lee, Hee Kyu Lee, Jung-Ho Kim, Ho-Juhn Song, Jong Sung Koh, Byoung Chul Cho. SKI-G-801, an AXL kinase inhibitor, blocks metastasis and induces anti-tumor immune responses in various syngeneic cancer models [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019; 2019 Mar 29-Apr 3; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2019;79(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 2010.