MNK inhibition sensitizes KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer to mTORC1 inhibition by reducing eIF4E phosphorylation and c-MYC expression.
Le Quesne, J
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KRAS-mutant colorectal cancers (CRC) are resistant to therapeutics, presenting a significant problem for ~40% of cases. Rapalogs, which inhibit mTORC1 and thus protein synthesis, are significantly less potent in KRAS-mutant CRC. Using Kras-mutant mouse models and mouse- and patient-derived organoids we demonstrate that KRAS with G12D mutation fundamentally rewires translation to increase both bulk and mRNA-specific translation initiation. This occurs via the MNK/eIF4E pathway culminating in sustained expression of c-MYC. By genetic and small molecule targeting of this pathway, we acutely sensitize KRASG12D models to rapamycin via suppression of c-MYC. We show that 45% of CRCs have high signaling through mTORC1 and the MNKs, with this signature correlating with a 3.5-year shorter cancer-specific survival in a subset of patients. This work provides a c-MYC-dependent co-targeting strategy with remarkable potency in multiple Kras-mutant mouse models and metastatic human organoids and identifies a patient population who may benefit from its clinical application.
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Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology and Genomics
License start date
Cancer discovery, 2020