Oncogene Ablation-Resistant Pancreatic Cancer Cells Depend on Mitochondrial Function

Nature. 2014 Oct 30;514(7524):628-32. doi: 10.1038/nature13611. Epub 2014 Aug 10.

Abstract

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest cancers in western countries, with a median survival of 6 months and an extremely low percentage of long-term surviving patients. KRAS mutations are known to be a driver event of PDAC, but targeting mutant KRAS has proved challenging. Targeting oncogene-driven signalling pathways is a clinically validated approach for several devastating diseases. Still, despite marked tumour shrinkage, the frequency of relapse indicates that a fraction of tumour cells survives shut down of oncogenic signalling. Here we explore the role of mutant KRAS in PDAC maintenance using a recently developed inducible mouse model of mutated Kras (Kras(G12D), herein KRas) in a p53(LoxP/WT) background. We demonstrate that a subpopulation of dormant tumour cells surviving oncogene ablation (surviving cells) and responsible for tumour relapse has features of cancer stem cells and relies on oxidative phosphorylation for survival. Transcriptomic and metabolic analyses of surviving cells reveal prominent expression of genes governing mitochondrial function, autophagy and lysosome activity, as well as a strong reliance on mitochondrial respiration and a decreased dependence on glycolysis for cellular energetics. Accordingly, surviving cells show high sensitivity to oxidative phosphorylation inhibitors, which can inhibit tumour recurrence. Our integrated analyses illuminate a therapeutic strategy of combined targeting of the KRAS pathway and mitochondrial respiration to manage pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology*
  • Cell Respiration / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, p53 / genetics
  • Glycolysis
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / metabolism
  • Recurrence
  • Signal Transduction

Substances

  • Hras protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE58307