Detalle Publicación


The transcription factor SLUG uncouples pancreatic cancer progression from the RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway

Autores: Bilal, F.; Arenas, E. J.; Pedersen, K.; Martínez-Sabadell, A.; Nabet, B.; Guruceaga Martínez, Elisabet; Vicent Cambra, Silvestre; Tabernero, J.; Macarulla, T.; Arribas, J. (Autor de correspondencia)
Título de la revista: CANCER RESEARCH
ISSN: 0008-5472
Volumen: 81
Número: 14
Páginas: 3849 - 3861
Fecha de publicación: 2021
Activating mutations in some isoforms of RAS or RAF are drivers of a substantial proportion of cancers. The main Raf effector, MEK1/2, can be targeted with several highly specific inhibitors. The clinical activity of these inhibitors seems to be mixed, showing efficacy against mutant BRAF-driven tumors but not KRAS-driven tumors, such as pancreatic adenocarcinomas. To improve our understanding of this context- dependent efficacy, we generated pancreatic cancer cells resistant to MEK1/2 inhibition, which were also resistant to KRAS and ERK1/2 inhibitors. Compared with parental cells, inhibitor-resistant cells showed several phenotypic changes including increased metastatic ability in vivo. The transcription factor SLUG, which is known to induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, was identified as the key factor responsible for both resistance to MEK1/2 inhibition and increased metastasis. Slug, but not similar transcription factors, predicted poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients and induced the transition to a cellular phenotype in which cell-cycle progression becomes independent of the KRASRAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway. SLUG was targeted using two independent strategies: (i) inhibition of the MEK5-ERK5 pathway, which is responsible for upregulation of SLUG upon MEK1/2 inhibition, and (ii) direct PROTAC-mediated degradation. Both strategies were efficacious in preclinical pancreatic cancer models, paving the path for the development of more effective therapies against pancreatic cancer. Significance: This study demonstrates that SLUG confers resistance to MEK1/2 inhibitors in pancreatic cancer by uncoupling tumor progression from KRAS-RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signaling, providing new therapeutic opportunities.