Inhibition of KRAS, MEK and PI3K Demonstrate Synergistic Anti-Tumor Effects in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Cell Lines

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Sep 14;14(18):4467. doi: 10.3390/cancers14184467.


Kirsten rat sarcoma virus (KRAS) mutations are widespread in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and contribute significantly to tumor initiation, progression, tumor relapse/resistance, and prognosis of patients. Although inhibitors against KRAS mutations have been developed, this therapeutic approach is not routinely used in PDAC patients. We investigated the anti-tumor efficacy of two KRAS inhibitors BI-3406 (KRAS::SOS1 inhibitor) and sotorasib (KRAS G12C inhibitor) alone or in combination with MEK1/2 inhibitor trametinib and/or PI3K inhibitor buparlisib in seven PDAC cell lines. Whole transcriptomic analysis of combined inhibition and control groups were comparatively analyzed to explore the corresponding mechanisms of inhibitor combination. Both KRAS inhibitors and corresponding combinations exhibited cytotoxicity against specific PDAC cell lines. BI-3406 enhance the efficacy of trametinib and buparlisib in BXPC-3, ASPC-1 and MIA PACA-2, but not in CAPAN-1, while sotorasib enhances the efficacy of trametinib and buparlisib only in MIA PACA-2. The whole transcriptomic analysis demonstrates that the two triple-inhibitor combinations exert antitumor effects by affecting related cell functions, such as affecting the immune system, cell adhesion, cell migration, and cytokine binding. As well as directly involved in RAF/MEK/ERK pathway and PI3K/AKT pathway affect cell survival. Our current study confirmed inhibition of KRAS and its downstream pathways as a potential novel therapy for PDAC and provides fundamental data for in vivo evaluations.

Keywords: KRAS; gene expression; kinase inhibitors; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.