PIN1 Maintains Redox Balance via the c-Myc/NRF2 Axis to Counteract Kras-Induced Mitochondrial Respiratory Injury in Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Cancer Res. 2019 Jan 1;79(1):133-145. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-1968. Epub 2018 Oct 24.


Kras is a decisive oncogene in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). PIN1 is a key effector involved in the Kras/ERK axis, synergistically mediating various cellular events. However, the underlying mechanism by which PIN1 promotes the development of PDAC remains unclear. Here we sought to elucidate the effect of PIN1 on redox homeostasis in Kras-driven PDAC. PIN1 was prevalently upregulated in PDAC and predicted the prognosis of the disease, especially Kras-mutant PDAC. Downregulation of PIN1 inhibited PDAC cell growth and promoted apoptosis, partially due to mitochondrial dysfunction. Silencing of PIN1 damaged basal mitochondrial function by significantly increasing intracellular ROS. Furthermore, PIN1 maintained redox balance via synergistic activation of c-Myc and NRF2 to upregulate expression of antioxidant response element driven genes in PDAC cells. This study elucidates a new mechanism by which Kras/ERK/NRF2 promotes tumor growth and identifies PIN1 as a decisive target in therapeutic strategies aimed at disturbing the redox balance in pancreatic cancer. SIGNIFICANCE: This study suggests that antioxidation protects Kras-mutant pancreatic cancer cells from oxidative injury, which may contribute to development of a targeted therapeutic strategy for Kras-driven PDAC by impairing redox homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mutation
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • NIMA-Interacting Peptidylprolyl Isomerase / genetics
  • NIMA-Interacting Peptidylprolyl Isomerase / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics*
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antioxidants
  • KRAS protein, human
  • MYC protein, human
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human
  • NIMA-Interacting Peptidylprolyl Isomerase
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • PIN1 protein, human