Mutant KRAS drives metabolic reprogramming and autophagic flux in premalignant pancreatic cells

Cancer Gene Ther. 2022 May;29(5):505-518. doi: 10.1038/s41417-021-00326-4. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Abstract

Mutational activation of the KRAS gene occurs in almost all pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and is the earliest molecular event in their carcinogenesis. Evidence has accumulated of the metabolic reprogramming in PDAC, such as amino acid homeostasis and autophagic flux. However, the biological effects of KRAS mutation on metabolic reprogramming at the earlier stages of PDAC carcinogenesis are unclear. Here we report dynamic metabolic reprogramming in immortalized human non-cancerous pancreatic ductal epithelial cells, in which a KRAS mutation was induced by gene-editing, which may mimic early pancreatic carcinogenesis. Similar to the cases of PDAC, KRAS gene mutation increased the dependency on glucose and glutamine for maintaining the intracellular redox balance. In addition, the intracellular levels of amino acids were significantly decreased because of active protein synthesis, and the cells required greater autophagic flux to maintain their viability. The lysosomal inhibitor chloroquine significantly inhibited cell proliferation. Therefore, metabolic reprogramming is an early event in carcinogenesis initiated by KRAS gene mutation, suggesting a rationale for the development of nutritional interventions that suppress or delay the development of PDAC.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)* / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)* / metabolism

Substances

  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma