Dysregulation of the MAPK pathway correlates with progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) progression. IQ motif containing GTPase-activating protein 1 (IQGAP1) is a MAPK scaffold that directly regulates the activation of RAF, MEK, and ERK. Fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase (FBP1), a key enzyme in gluconeogenesis, is transcriptionally downregulated in various cancers, including PDAC. Here, we demonstrate that FBP1 acts as a negative modulator of the IQGAP1-MAPK signaling axis in PDAC cells. FBP1 binding to the WW domain of IQGAP1 impeded IQGAP1-dependent ERK1/2 phosphorylation (pERK1/2) in a manner independent of FBP1 enzymatic activity. Conversely, decreased FBP1 expression induced pERK1/2 levels in PDAC cell lines and correlated with increased pERK1/2 levels in patient specimens. Treatment with gemcitabine caused undesirable activation of ERK1/2 in PDAC cells, but cotreatment with the FBP1-derived small peptide inhibitor FBP1 E4 overcame gemcitabine-induced ERK activation, thereby increasing the anticancer efficacy of gemcitabine in PDAC. These findings identify a primary mechanism of resistance of PDAC to standard therapy and suggest that the FBP1-IQGAP1-ERK1/2 signaling axis can be targeted for effective treatment of PDAC. Cancer Res; 77(16); 4328-41. ©2017 AACR.
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.