Tumor Microenvironment Remodeling Enables Bypass of Oncogenic KRAS Dependency in Pancreatic Cancer

Academic Article


  • ©2020 American Association for Cancer Research. Oncogenic KRAS (KRAS*) is a key tumor maintenance gene in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), motivating pharmacologic targeting of KRAS* and its effectors. Here, we explored mechanisms involving the tumor microenvironment (TME) as a potential basis for resistance to targeting KRAS*. Using the inducible KrasG12D;Trp53-/- PDAC mouse model, gain-of-function screens of epigenetic regulators identified HDAC5 as the top hit enabling KRAS* independent tumor growth. HDAC5-driven escaper tumors showed a prominent neutrophil-to-macrophage switch relative to KRAS*-driven tumors. Mechanistically, HDAC5 represses Socs3, a negative regulator of chemokine CCL2, resulting in increased CCL2, which recruits CCR2+ macrophages. Correspondingly, enforced Ccl2 promotes macrophage recruitment into the TME and enables tumor recurrence following KRAS* extinction. These tumor-associated macrophages in turn provide cancer cells with trophic support including TGFβ to enable KRAS* bypass in a SMAD4-dependent manner. Our work uncovers a KRAS* resistance mechanism involving immune cell remodeling of the PDAC TME. SIGNIFICANCE: Although KRAS* is required for PDAC tumor maintenance, tumors can recur following KRAS* extinction. The capacity of PDAC cancer cells to alter the TME myeloid cell composition to support KRAS*-independent tumor growth illuminates novel therapeutic targets that may enhance the effectiveness of therapies targeting KRAS* and its pathway components.See related commentary by Carr and Fernandez-Zapico, p. 910.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 890.
  • Published In

  • Cancer Discovery  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hou P; Kapoor A; Zhang Q; Li J; Wu CJ; Li J; Lan Z; Tang M; Ma X; Ackroyd JJ
  • Start Page

  • 1058
  • End Page

  • 1077
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 7