Suppression of interferon gene expression overcomes resistance to MEK inhibition in KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer.
De Haven Brandon, A
MetadataShow full item record
Despite showing clinical activity in BRAF-mutant melanoma, the MEK inhibitor (MEKi) trametinib has failed to show clinical benefit in KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer. To identify mechanisms of resistance to MEKi, we employed a pharmacogenomic analysis of MEKi-sensitive versus MEKi-resistant colorectal cancer cell lines. Strikingly, interferon- and inflammatory-related gene sets were enriched in cell lines exhibiting intrinsic and acquired resistance to MEK inhibition. The bromodomain inhibitor JQ1 suppressed interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression and in combination with MEK inhibitors displayed synergistic effects and induced apoptosis in MEKi-resistant colorectal cancer cell lines. ISG expression was confirmed in patient-derived organoid models, which displayed resistance to trametinib and were resensitized by JQ1 co-treatment. In in vivo models of colorectal cancer, combination treatment significantly suppressed tumor growth. Our findings provide a novel explanation for the limited response to MEK inhibitors in KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer, known for its inflammatory nature. Moreover, the high expression of ISGs was associated with significantly reduced survival of colorectal cancer patients. Excitingly, we have identified novel therapeutic opportunities to overcome intrinsic and acquired resistance to MEK inhibition in colorectal cancer.
Version of record
Molecular Cell Biology
Cancer Pharmacology & Stress Response (CPSR)
Molecular Drug Resistance
Gastrointestinal Cancers Clinical Trials
Medicine (RMH Smith Cunningham)
Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology and Genomics
Systems and Precision Cancer Medicine
License start date
Oncogene, 2019, 38 (10), pp. 1717 - 1733