Resistance to TRK inhibition mediated by convergent MAPK pathway activation Letter uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Genomics
  • Neoplasms
  • Precision Medicine


  • © 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc. TRK fusions are found in a variety of cancer types, lead to oncogenic addiction, and strongly predict tumor-agnostic efficacy of TRK inhibition1–8. With the recent approval of the first selective TRK inhibitor, larotrectinib, for patients with any TRK-fusion-positive adult or pediatric solid tumor, to identify mechanisms of treatment failure after initial response has become of immediate therapeutic relevance. So far, the only known resistance mechanism is the acquisition of on-target TRK kinase domain mutations, which interfere with drug binding and can potentially be addressable through second-generation TRK inhibitors9–11. Here, we report off-target resistance in patients treated with TRK inhibitors and in patient-derived models, mediated by genomic alterations that converge to activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. MAPK pathway-directed targeted therapy, administered alone or in combination with TRK inhibition, re-established disease control. Experimental modeling further suggests that upfront dual inhibition of TRK and MEK may delay time to progression in cancer types prone to the genomic acquisition of MAPK pathway-activating alterations. Collectively, these data suggest that a subset of patients will develop off-target mechanisms of resistance to TRK inhibition with potential implications for clinical management and future clinical trial design.

publication date

  • January 2019



  • Letter


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/s41591-019-0542-z

Additional Document Info