GNAS mutation inhibits growth and induces phosphodiesterase 4D expression in colorectal cancer cell lines

Int J Cancer. 2024 Jun 1;154(11):1987-1998. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34865. Epub 2024 Feb 6.


Approximately 5% of colorectal cancers (CRCs) have a gain-of-function mutation in the GNAS gene, which leads to the activation of cAMP-dependent signaling pathways and associates with poor prognosis. We investigated the effect of an activating GNAS mutation in CRC cell lines on gene expression and cell proliferation in vitro, and tumor growth in vivo. GNAS-mutated (GNASmt) HCT116 cells showed stimulated synthesis of cAMP as compared to parental (Par) cells. The most upregulated gene in the GNASmt cells was cAMP-hydrolyzing phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D) as detected by RNA sequencing. To further validate our finding, we analyzed PDE4D expression in a set of human CRC tumors (n = 35) and demonstrated overexpression in GNAS mutant CRC tumors as compared to GNAS wild-type tumors. The GNASmt HCT116 cells proliferated more slowly than the Par cells. PDE4 inhibitor Ro 20-1724 and PDE4D subtype selective inhibitor GEBR-7b further suppressed the proliferation of GNASmt cells without an effect on Par cells. The growth inhibitory effect of these inhibitors was also seen in the intrinsically GNAS-mutated SK-CO-1 CRC cell line having high levels of cAMP synthesis and PDE4D expression. In vivo, GNASmt HCT116 cells formed smaller tumors than the Par cells in nude mice. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that GNAS mutation results in the growth suppression of CRC cells. Moreover, the GNAS mutation-induced overexpression of PDE4D provides a potential avenue to impede the proliferation of CRC cells through the use of PDE4 inhibitors.

Keywords: GNAS; PDE4; cAMP; colorectal cancer; phosphodiesterase.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromogranins* / genetics
  • Chromogranins* / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4* / genetics
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4* / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs* / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs* / metabolism
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mutation
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors / pharmacology


  • Chromogranins
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4
  • GNAS protein, human
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors
  • PDE4D protein, human