Pirtobrutinib Targets BTK C481S in Ibrutinib-Resistant CLL but Second-Site BTK Mutations Lead to Resistance

Naeem A*, Utro F, Wang Q, Cha J, Vihinen M, Martindale SP, Zhou Y, Ren Y, Tyekucheva S, Kim AS, Fernandes SM, Saksena G, Rhrissorrakrai K, Levovitz C, Danysh BP, Slowik K, Jacobs RA, Davids MS, Lederer JA, Zain R#, Smith CIE#, Leshchiner I#, Parida L#, Getz G#, Brown JR#^
Blood Advances (2022)


Covalent inhibitors of Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) have transformed the therapy of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), but continuous therapy has been complicated by the development of resistance. The most common resistance mechanism in patients whose disease progresses on covalent BTK inhibitors (BTKi) is a mutation in the BTK 481 cysteine residue to which the inhibitors bind covalently. Pirtobrutinib is a highly selective, non-covalent BTK inhibitor with substantial clinical activity in patients whose disease has progressed on covalent BTKi, regardless of BTK mutation status. Using in vitro ibrutinib-resistant models and CLL patient cells we show that pirtobrutinib potently inhibits BTK-mediated functions including BCR signaling, cell viability and CCL3/CCL4 chemokine production in both BTK wild-type (WT) and C481S mutant CLL cells. We demonstrate that primary CLL cells from responding patients on the pirtobrutinib trial show reduced BCR signaling, cell survival and CCL3/CCL4 chemokine secretion. At time of progression, these primary CLL cells show increasing resistance to pirtobrutinib in signaling inhibition, cell viability and cytokine production. We employed longitudinal whole exome sequencing on two patients whose disease progressed on pirtobrutinib and identified selection of alternative-site BTK mutations, providing clinical evidence that secondary BTK mutations lead to resistance to non-covalent BTKi.

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