Introduction: The phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) lipid kinases are a family of kinase isoforms that transduce signals in response to various stimuli in different cell types. The PI3K-γ isoform is expressed in immune cells and has limited, if any, expression in epithelial cancer cells. Genetic deletion and kinase-dead knock-in studies highlight a key role for PI3K-γ in the development and function of myeloid-derived cells that constitute a key component of the immune suppressive tumor microenvironment (Joshi Mol Canc Res 2014; Schmid Canc Cell 2011). Targeting PI3K-γ in these tumor-associated myeloid cells could therefore inhibit the immune suppressive tumor microenvironment, enabling the immune system to attack tumor cells more effectively. To date, potent and selective PI3K-γ inhibitors with drug-like properties have not been available to test this hypothesis. We now report the structure, biochemical, cellular, and in vivo properties of a potent and selective, small molecule inhibitor of PI3K-γ, IPI-549, and provide data to support the therapeutic potential of breaking tumor immune tolerance through PI3K-γ inhibition.
Results: Discovery efforts identified a highly selective inhibitor of PI3K-γ, IPI-549, with pharmaceutical properties suitable for further development. Binding studies with IPI-549 revealed a KD value of 0.29 nM for PI3K-γ with >58-fold weaker binding affinity for the other Class I PI3K isoforms. Enzymatic assays utilizing physiological ATP concentrations (3 mM) confirmed the selectivity of IPI-549 for PI3K-γ (>200-fold) over other Class I PI3K isoforms. Cellular assays designed to assess individual Class I PI3K isoform activity demonstrated that IPI-549 is highly potent and specific for PI3K-γ (IC50 of 1.2 nM; >140-fold selectivity). Further selectivity screening revealed that IPI-549 is selective for PI3K-γ over other protein and lipid kinases, receptors, ion channels, and transporters.
In vitro functional assays demonstrated that IPI-549 blocked bone marrow derived M2 murine macrophage polarization in response to IL-4 and MCSF1, but did not inhibit ConA-induced T-cell activation. These data indicate the potential for IPI-549 to block immune suppressive macrophage development but not T-cell activity. Pharmacokinetic studies in mice demonstrated IPI-549 to be orally bioavailable with a long plasma half-life enabling selective inhibition of the PI3K-γ isoform relative to the other Class I PI3K isoforms. In an in vivo PI3K-γ-dependent neutrophil migration murine model, IPI-549 blocked neutrophil migration in a dose dependent manner.
To evaluate the effect of PI3K-γ inhibition on tumor growth in an immunocompetent animal, IPI-549 was tested in murine syngeneic solid tumor models. Mice treated with IPI-549 demonstrated significant tumor growth inhibition in multiple syngeneic models. Studies to elucidate the mechanism of tumor growth inhibition indicated that IPI-549 affects immune suppressive myeloid cell numbers and/or function, leading to an increase in cytotoxic T-cell activity. Studies in nude or CD8 T-cell depleted mice demonstrated the T-cell dependence of IPI-549 mediated tumor growth inhibition. Finally, in vivo studies with IPI-549 in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors showed increased tumor growth inhibition compared to either monotherapy.
Conclusions: IPI-549 is a potent and selective inhibitor of PI3K-γ with pharmaceutical properties that allow for the selective inhibition of PI3K-γ in vivo. Our findings provide evidence that targeted inhibition of PI3K-γ by IPI-549 can restore antitumor immune responses and inhibit solid tumor growth in preclinical models. IND-enabling studies with IPI-549 are ongoing to support its initial clinical exploration in the setting of solid tumors.
Citation Format: Jeffery Kutok, Janid Ali, Erin Brophy, Alfredo Castro, Jonathan DiNitto, Catherine Evans, Kerrie Faia, Stanley Goldstein, Nicole Kosmider, Andre Lescarbeau, Tao Liu, Christian Martin, Karen McGovern, Somarajan Nair, Melissa Pink, Jennifer Proctor, Matthew Rausch, Sujata Sharma, John Soglia, Jeremy Tchaicha, Martin Tremblay, Vivian Villegas, Katherine Walsh, Kerry White, David Winkler, Vito Palombella. The potent and selective phosphoinositide-3-kinase-gamma inhibitor, IPI-549, inhibits tumor growth in murine syngeneic solid tumor models through alterations in the immune suppressive microenvironment. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR Inaugural International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival; September 16-19, 2015; New York, NY. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Immunol Res 2016;4(1 Suppl):Abstract nr B029.
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