Indexed on: 30 Oct '14Published on: 30 Oct '14Published in: Science signaling
The gene expressing the receptor tyrosine kinase anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is mutated and aberrantly expressed in several cancers. The clinical efficacy of the ALK inhibitor, crizotinib, lags behind expectations for treating MYCN-amplified, ALK-mutant neuroblastoma, a deadly childhood cancer. In this issue of Science Signaling, Umapathy et al. identify the kinase extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) as a central mediator that enables ALK to boost MYCN expression, and they show that inhibiting ERK5 in concert with ALK reduced neuroblastoma cell viability in vitro and in xenograft tumor models. This report has important clinical implications for the treatment of patients with neuroblastoma or other tumors that overexpress MYC(N) and harbor ALK mutations, such as non-small-cell lung cancer.