bims-pimaco Biomed News
on PI3K and MAPK signalling in colorectal cancer
Issue of 2020‒11‒29
twelve papers selected by
Lucas B. Zeiger
Beatson Institute for Cancer Research


  1. Cell Rep. 2020 Nov 24. pii: S2211-1247(20)31416-9. [Epub ahead of print]33(8): 108427
    Senoo H, Wai M, Matsubayashi HT, Sesaki H, Iijima M.
      The activation of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) leads to the activation of mTORC2 in cell migration and metabolism. However, the mechanism that links GPCRs to mTORC2 remains unknown. Here, using Dictyostelium cells, we show that GPCR-mediated chemotactic stimulation induces hetero-oligomerization of phosphorylated GDP-bound Rho GTPase and GTP-bound Ras GTPase in directed cell migration. The Rho-Ras hetero-oligomers directly and specifically stimulate mTORC2 activity toward AKT in cells and after biochemical reconstitution using purified proteins in vitro. The Rho-Ras hetero-oligomers do not activate ERK/MAPK, another kinase that functions downstream of GPCRs and Ras. Human KRas4B functionally replace Dictyostelium Ras in mTORC2 activation. In contrast to GDP-Rho, GTP-Rho antagonizes mTORC2-AKT signaling by inhibiting the oligomerization of GDP-Rho with GTP-Ras. These data reveal that GPCR-stimulated hetero-oligomerization of Rho and Ras provides a critical regulatory step that controls mTORC2-AKT signaling.
    Keywords:  AKT; Dictyostelium; G protein-coupled receptors; KRas; Rho; cell migration; mTORC2; small GTPases
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108427
  2. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Nov 23. 39(1): 253
    Petti L, Rizzo G, Rubbino F, Elangovan S, Colombo P, Restelli S, Piontini A, Arena V, Carvello M, Romano B, Cavalleri T, Anselmo A, Ungaro F, D'Alessio S, Spinelli A, Stifter S, Grizzi F, Sgambato A, Danese S, Laghi L, Malesci A, Vetrano S.
      BACKGROUND: Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 2 (S1PR2) mediates pleiotropic functions encompassing cell proliferation, survival, and migration, which become collectively de-regulated in cancer. Information on whether S1PR2 participates in colorectal carcinogenesis/cancer is scanty, and we set out to fill the gap.METHODS: We screened expression changes of S1PR2 in human CRC and matched normal mucosa specimens [N = 76]. We compared CRC arising in inflammation-driven and genetically engineered models in wild-type (S1PR2+/+) and S1PR2 deficient (S1PR2-/-) mice. We reconstituted S1PR2 expression in RKO cells and assessed their growth in xenografts. Functionally, we mimicked the ablation of S1PR2 in normal mucosa by treating S1PR2+/+ organoids with JTE013 and characterized intestinal epithelial stem cells isolated from S1PR2-/-Lgr5-EGFP- mice.
    RESULTS: S1PR2 expression was lost in 33% of CRC; in 55%, it was significantly decreased, only 12% retaining expression comparable to normal mucosa. Both colitis-induced and genetic Apc+/min mouse models of CRC showed a higher incidence in size and number of carcinomas and/or high-grade adenomas, with increased cell proliferation in S1PR2-/- mice compared to S1PR2+/+ controls. Loss of S1PR2 impaired mucosal regeneration, ultimately promoting the expansion of intestinal stem cells. Whereas its overexpression attenuated cell cycle progression, it reduced the phosphorylation of AKT and augmented the levels of PTEN.
    CONCLUSIONS: In normal colonic crypts, S1PR2 gains expression along with intestinal epithelial cells differentiation, but not in intestinal stem cells, and contrasts intestinal tumorigenesis by promoting epithelial differentiation, preventing the expansion of stem cells and braking their malignant transformation. Targeting of S1PR2 may be of therapeutic benefit for CRC expressing high Lgr5.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer; Epithelial proliferation; Lgr5; PTEN; S1PR2
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13046-020-01740-6
  3. EJNMMI Res. 2020 Nov 23. 10(1): 142
    Popovic M, Talarico O, van den Hoff J, Kunin H, Zhang Z, Lafontaine D, Dogan S, Leung J, Kaye E, Czmielewski C, Mayerhoefer ME, Zanzonico P, Yaeger R, Schöder H, Humm JL, Solomon SB, Sofocleous CT, Kirov AS.
      BACKGROUND: Deriving individual tumor genomic characteristics from patient imaging analysis is desirable. We explore the predictive value of 2-[18F]FDG uptake with regard to the KRAS mutational status of colorectal adenocarcinoma liver metastases (CLM).METHODS: 2-[18F]FDG PET/CT images, surgical pathology and molecular diagnostic reports of 37 patients who underwent PET/CT-guided biopsy of CLM were reviewed under an IRB-approved retrospective research protocol. Sixty CLM in 39 interventional PET scans of the 37 patients were segmented using two different auto-segmentation tools implemented in different commercially available software packages. PET standard uptake values (SUV) were corrected for: (1) partial volume effect (PVE) using cold wall-corrected contrast recovery coefficients derived from phantom spheres with variable diameter and (2) variability of arterial tracer supply and variability of uptake time after injection until start of PET scan derived from the tumor-to-blood standard uptake ratio (SUR) approach. The correlations between the KRAS mutational status and the mean, peak and maximum SUV were investigated using Student's t test, Wilcoxon rank sum test with continuity correction, logistic regression and receiver operation characteristic (ROC) analysis. These correlation analyses were also performed for the ratios of the mean, peak and maximum tumor uptake to the mean blood activity concentration at the time of scan: SURMEAN, SURPEAK and SURMAX, respectively.
    RESULTS: Fifteen patients harbored KRAS missense mutations (KRAS+), while another 3 harbored KRAS gene amplification. For 31 lesions, the mutational status was derived from the PET/CT-guided biopsy. The Student's t test p values for separating KRAS mutant cases decreased after applying PVE correction to all uptake metrics of each lesion and when applying correction for uptake time variability to the SUR metrics. The observed correlations were strongest when both corrections were applied to SURMAX and when the patients harboring gene amplification were grouped with the wild type: p ≤ 0.001; ROC area under the curve = 0.77 and 0.75 for the two different segmentations, respectively, with a mean specificity of 0.69 and sensitivity of 0.85.
    CONCLUSION: The correlations observed after applying the described corrections show potential for assigning probabilities for the KRAS missense mutation status in CLM using 2-[18F]FDG PET images.
    Keywords:  Colorectal adenocarcinoma; KRAS mutations; Liver metastases; PET
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13550-020-00707-0
  4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Nov 23. pii: 202017152. [Epub ahead of print]
    Yi J, Zhu J, Wu J, Thompson CB, Jiang X.
      Ferroptosis, a form of regulated necrosis driven by iron-dependent peroxidation of phospholipids, is regulated by cellular metabolism, redox homeostasis, and various signaling pathways related to cancer. In this study, we found that activating mutation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) or loss of phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) function, highly frequent events in human cancer, confers ferroptosis resistance in cancer cells, and that inhibition of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling axis sensitizes cancer cells to ferroptosis induction. Mechanistically, this resistance requires sustained activation of mTORC1 and the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR)C1-dependent induction of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1), a central transcription factor regulating lipid metabolism. Furthermore, stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1), a transcriptional target of SREBP1, mediates the ferroptosis-suppressing activity of SREBP1 by producing monounsaturated fatty acids. Genetic or pharmacologic ablation of SREBP1 or SCD1 sensitized ferroptosis in cancer cells with PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway mutation. Conversely, ectopic expression of SREPB1 or SCD1 restored ferroptosis resistance in these cells, even when mTORC1 was inhibited. In xenograft mouse models for PI3K-mutated breast cancer and PTEN-defective prostate cancer, the combination of mTORC1 inhibition with ferroptosis induction resulted in near-complete tumor regression. In conclusion, hyperactive mutation of PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling protects cancer cells from oxidative stress and ferroptotic death through SREBP1/SCD1-mediated lipogenesis, and combination of mTORC1 inhibition with ferroptosis induction shows therapeutic promise in preclinical models.
    Keywords:  SREBP1; cancer; ferroptosis; lipogenesis; mTOR
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2017152117
  5. Mol Cell Oncol. 2020 Aug 18. 7(6): 1803029
    Hervieu A, Kermorgant S.
      We reported that RAC1 is a master regulator of cell migration and anchorage-independent growth, downstream of the oncogenic Receptor Tyrosine Kinase (RTK) MET. RAC1 growth-promoting role is guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase)- and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-independent but promotes mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling through triggering its plasma membrane localization.
    Keywords:  MET; PI3K; RAC1; mTOR
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/23723556.2020.1803029
  6. Cell Signal. 2020 Nov 22. pii: S0898-6568(20)30319-3. [Epub ahead of print] 109842
    Kaur H, Moreau R.
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is a central modulator of inflammation and tumorigenesis in the gastrointestinal tract. Growth factors upregulate mTORC1 via the PI3K/AKT and/or Ras/MAPK signal pathways. Curcumin (CUR), a polyphenol found in turmeric roots (Curcuma longa) can repress mTORC1 kinase activity in colon cancer cell lines; however, key aspects of CUR mechanism of action remain to be elucidated including its primary cellular target. We investigated the molecular effects of physiologically attainable concentration of CUR (20 μM) in the intestinal lumen on mTORC1 signaling in Caco-2 cells. CUR markedly inhibited mTORC1 kinase activity as determined by the decreased phosphorylation of p70S6K (Thr389, -99%, P < 0.0001) and S6 (Ser235/236, -92%, P < 0.0001). Mechanistically, CUR decreased IRS-1 protein abundance (-80%, P < 0.0001) thereby downregulating AKT phosphorylation (Ser473, -94%, P < 0.0001) and in turn PRAS40 phosphorylation (Thr246, -99%, P < 0.0001) while total PRAS40 abundance was unchanged. The use of proteasome inhibitor MG132 showed that CUR-mediated loss of IRS-1 involved proteasomal degradation. CUR lowered Raptor protein abundance, which combined with PRAS40 hypophosphorylation, suggests CUR repressed mTORC1 activity by inducing compositional changes that hinder the complex assembly. In addition, CUR activated AMPK (Thr172 phosphorylation, P < 0.0001), a recognized repressor of mTORC1, and AMPK upstream regulator LKB1. Although cargo adapter protein p62 was decreased by CUR (-49%, P < 0.004), CUR did not significantly induce autophagy. Inhibition of AKT/mTORC1 signaling by CUR may have lifted the cross-inhibition onto MAPK signaling, which became induced; p-ERK1/2 (+670%, P < 0.0001), p-p38 (+1433%, P < 0.0001). By concomitantly targeting IRS-1 and AMPK, CUR's mechanism of mTORC1 inhibition is distinct from that of rapamycin.
    Keywords:  ERK; Nutrient signaling; PRAS40; Raptor; Turmeric; p38
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cellsig.2020.109842
  7. Mol Cell Oncol. 2020 Oct 07. 7(6): 1822123
    Aubert L, Nandagopal N, Roux PP.
      KRAS-driven cancers acquire profound metabolic dependencies that are intimately linked to tumor growth. Our work revealed that colorectal cancers that harbor KRAS mutations are addicted to copper metabolism. This adaptation renders tumor cells critically dependent on the copper transporter ATP7A, which reveals copper metabolism as a promising therapeutic target for KRAS-driven colorectal cancers.
    Keywords:  ATP7A; Copper; KRAS; TTM; chelators; colorectal cancer; micronutrients
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/23723556.2020.1822123
  8. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 20. pii: E8805. [Epub ahead of print]21(22):
    Bovio F, Epistolio S, Mozzi A, Monti E, Fusi P, Forcella M, Frattini M.
      The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), through the MAP kinase and PI3K-Akt-mTOR axis, plays a pivotal role in colorectal cancer (CRC) pathogenesis. The membrane-associated NEU3 sialidase interacts with and desialylates EGFR by promoting its dimerization and downstream effectors' activation. Among the targeted therapies against EGFR, the monoclonal antibody cetuximab is active only in a subgroup of patients not carrying mutations in the MAP kinase pathway. In order to better understand the EGFR-NEU3 interplay and the mechanisms of pharmacological resistance, we investigated the role of NEU3 deregulation in cetuximab-treated CRC cell lines transiently transfected with NEU3 using Western blot analysis. Our results indicate that NEU3 overexpression can enhance EGFR activation only if EGFR is overexpressed, indicating the existence of a threshold for NEU3-mediated EGFR activation. This enhancement mainly leads to the constitutive activation of the MAP kinase pathway. Consequently, we suggest that the evaluation of NEU3 expression cannot entirely substitute the evaluation of EGFR because EGFR-negative cases cannot be stimulated by NEU3. Furthermore, NEU3-mediated hyperactivation of EGFR is counterbalanced by the administration of cetuximab, hypothesizing that a combined treatment of NEU3- and EGFR-targeted therapies may represent a valid option for CRC patients, which must be investigated in the future.
    Keywords:  EGFR pathway; cell lines; cetuximab; colorectal cancer; sialidase NEU3
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21228805
  9. Biochem Soc Trans. 2020 Nov 26. pii: BST20200473. [Epub ahead of print]
    Chakraborty A.
      Oncogenic mutation in KRAS is one of the most common alterations in human cancer. After decades of extensive research and unsuccessful drug discovery programs, therapeutic targeting of KRAS mutant tumour is at an exciting juncture. The discovery of mutation-specific inhibitors of KRASG12C and early positive findings from clinical trials has raised the hope of finally having a drug to treat a significant segment of KRAS mutant cancer patients. Crucially, it has also re-energized the RAS field to look beyond G12C mutation and find new innovative targeting opportunities. However, the early clinical trial data also indicates that there is significant variation in response among patients and that monotherapy treatment with KRASG12C inhibitors (G12Ci) alone is unlikely to be sufficient to elicit a sustained response. Understanding the molecular mechanism of variation in patient response and identifying possible combination opportunities, which could be exploited to achieve durable and significant responses and delay emergence of resistance, is central to the success of G12Ci therapy. Given the specificity of G12Ci, toxicity is expected to be minimal. Therefore, it might be possible to combine G12Ci with other targeted agents which have previously been explored to tackle KRAS mutant cancer but deemed too toxic, e.g. MEK inhibitor. Ongoing clinical trials will shed light on clinical resistance to G12C inhibitors, however extensive work is already ongoing to identify the best combination partners. This review provides an update on combination opportunities which could be explored to maximize the benefit of this new exciting drug.
    Keywords:  KRAS; cancer; combination
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20200473
  10. Oncol Lett. 2021 Jan;21(1): 15
    Lastraioli E, Antonuzzo L, Fantechi B, Di Cerbo L, Di Costanzo A, Lavacchi D, Armenio M, Arcangeli A, Castiglione F, Messerini L, Di Costanzo F.
      Patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) are routinely screened for either K- and N-RAS to select the appropriate treatment. The present study aimed to evaluate the concordance between K- and NRAS status in the tissue (either primary tumor or metastasis) and the plasma of patients with mCRC and to identify the associations between K- and NRAS mutations in ctDNA and the clinicopathological parameters. Samples from a total of 31 patients with mCRC with measurable disease according to the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors were analyzed. For all patients, K- and NRAS status was determined in the tissue by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry. For the detection of RAS mutations in cell-free tumor DNA also defined as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), the OncoBEAM® RAS CRC kit (Sysmex Inostics) was used. A total of 6/31 tissue samples expressed wild-type KRAS, whereas 25/31 presented mutations. In addition, 7/31 plasma samples expressed wild-type KRAS, mutations were detected in 22/31 patients, and for 2/31 patients, the test did not provide a conclusive result. A total of 24/31 patients expressed wild-type NRAS, 6/31 had mutations and 1/21 was not informative. For the KRAS mutational status, a moderate concordance (agreement, 85.18%; Cohen's k, 0.513) between the tissue and plasma analysis was observed; for NRAS, a fair agreement (agreement, 83.33%; Cohen's k, 0.242) was obtained. In conclusion, both tissue and plasma analyses should be performed for the management of patients with mCRC. To better exploit the beads, emulsions, amplification, magnetics (BEAMing) technique in the clinical setting, studies aimed at determining the RAS status to monitor therapy and during follow-up are warranted.
    Keywords:  KRAS; NRAS; beads; emulsions amplification; magnetics; mass spectrometry; metastatic colorectal cancer
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2020.12276
  11. Cancer Sci. 2020 Nov 28.
    Ma J, Liu X, Chen H, Khawar Abbas M, Yang L, Sun H, Sun T, Wu B, Yang S, Zhou D.
      Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is highly expressed in embryo and colorectal cancer (CRC) and has been widely used as a marker for CRC. Emerging evidences have proved that elevated CEA promotes CRC progression. However, the mechanism of the increased CEA in primary and recurrent CRC is still an open question. In this study, we showed that c-KIT, ELK1 and CEA were hyper-expressed in CRC patients especially recurrent ones. By bioinformatics we picked out ELK1 as a candidate transcription factor (TF) for CEA and the the binding site of ELK1 within CEA promoter was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation and dual luciferase reporter assays. Over-expression of ELK1 increased CEA in vitro; while knock-down of ELK1 decreased CEA. Up-regulated ELK1 promoted adhesion, migration and invasion of CRC cells. However, knock-down of CEA blocked the activities of the ELK1 over-expressed CRC cells. Furthermore, we explored the role of the c-KIT-ERK1/2 signaling in the activation of ELK1. Blockage of the c-KIT signaling by Imatinib or ISCK03 reduced p-ELK1 and consequently decreased CEA in CRC cells; so did the blockage of the ERK1/2 pathway by U0126. Compared with wild type (WT) littermates, the c-kit loss-of-functional Wadsm/m mice showed lowered c-KIT, ELK1 and CEA. In conclusion, our study revealed that ELK1, which was activated by the c-KIT-ERK1/2 signaling, was a key TF for CEA expression. Blockage of ELK1 or its up-stream signaling could be an alternative way to decelerate CRC progression. We also suggested that besides a biomarker for CRC, CEA could be used for guiding targeted therapy.
    Keywords:  C-KIT; CEA; Colorectal cancer; ELK1; Targeted therapy
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/cas.14750
  12. Gastroenterology Res. 2020 Oct;13(5): 184-198
    Levin-Sparenberg E, Bylsma LC, Lowe K, Sangare L, Fryzek JP, Alexander DD.
      Background: Tumors of the metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients that are wildtype (WT) for KRAS or NRAS mutations respond more favorably to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) treatments. Treatment guidelines now recommend that all mCRC patients have WT KRAS and NRAS tumor status confirmed prior to initiating anti-EGFR therapy. Evidence also suggests that BRAF mutations may predict lack of response to anti-EGFR therapy. As such, there is now a need for comprehensive data on the prevalence of KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF mutations among patients with mCRC.Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted among studies that described the prevalence of KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF gene mutations in mCRC patients. Observational cohort studies and standard of care arm of randomized clinical trials were included. Random effects meta-analysis models were used to create summary prevalence estimates for each of the mutation types. Subgroup analyses were also conducted to identify potential sources of heterogeneity. Exploratory analyses of overall and progression-free survival by mutation status were also conducted.
    Results: This systematic review and meta-analysis included 275 studies comprising 77,104 mCRC patients. The summary prevalence estimate was 35.9% for KRAS mutations, 7.1% for BRAF mutations, and 4.1% for NRAS mutations. Female patients had significantly more KRAS and BRAF mutations than males, and significant variation by study location was observed for both KRAS and BRAF mutation prevalence. Overall survival was significantly decreased for patients with KRAS, BRAF, and NRAS mutations compared to those with WT tumors. Progression-free survival was also significantly decreased among patients with KRAS and BRAF mutations.
    Conclusions: KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF mutation statuses in patients with mCRC are important predictors of treatment success and may also have prognostic value. In this paper we present the first systematic and comprehensive literature review and meta-analysis of the prevalence of KRAS, BRAF, and NRAS mutations and demonstrate the prognostic impact of mutation status on survival.
    Keywords:  BRAF; KRAS; Meta-analysis; Metastatic colorectal cancer; NRAS
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.14740/gr1167