KRAS is the most frequently mutated oncogene in human cancer, and its activating mutations represent long-sought therapeutic targets. Programmable nucleases, particularly the CRISPR-Cas9 system, provide an attractive tool for genetically targeting KRAS mutations in cancer cells. Here, we show that cleavage of a panel of KRAS driver mutations suppresses growth in various human cancer cell lines, revealing their dependence on mutant KRAS. However, analysis of the remaining cell population after long-term Cas9 expression unmasked the occurence of oncogenic KRAS escape variants that were resistant to Cas9-cleavage. In contrast, the use of an adenine base editor to correct oncogenic KRAS mutations progressively depleted the targeted cells without the appearance of escape variants and allowed efficient and simultaneous correction of a cancer-associated TP53 mutation. Oncogenic KRAS and TP53 base editing was possible in patient-derived cancer organoids, suggesting that base editor approaches to correct oncogenic mutations could be developed for functional interrogation of vulnerabilities in a personalized manner for future precision oncology applications.
Significance: Repairing KRAS mutations with base editors can be used for providing a better understanding of RAS biology and may lay the foundation for improved treatments for KRAS-mutant cancers.
©2022 The Authors; Published by the American Association for Cancer Research.