Genetically manipulating endogenous Kras levels and oncogenic mutations in vivo influences tissue patterning of murine tumorigenesis

Özgün Le Roux, Nicole L.K. Pershing, Erin Kaltenbrun, Nicole J. Newman, Jeffrey I. Everitt, Elisa Baldelli, Mariaelena Pierobon, Emanuel F. Petricoin, Christopher M. Counter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Despite multiple possible oncogenic mutations in the proto-oncogene KRAS, unique subsets of these mutations are detected in different cancer types. As KRAS mutations occur early, if not being the initiating event, these mutational biases are ostensibly a product of how normal cells respond to the encoded oncoprotein. Oncogenic mutations can impact not only the level of active oncoprotein, but also engagement with proteins. To attempt to separate these two effects, we generated four novel Cre-inducible (LSL) Kras alleles in mice with the biochemically distinct G12D or Q61R mutations and encoded by native (nat) rare or common (com) codons to produce low or high protein levels. While there were similarities, each allele also induced a distinct transcriptional response shortly after activation in vivo. At one end of the spectrum, activating the KrasLSL-natG12D allele induced transcriptional hallmarks suggestive of an expansion of multipotent cells, while at the other end, activating the KrasLSL-comQ61R allele led to hallmarks of hyperproliferation and onco-genic stress. Evidence suggests that these changes may be a product of signaling differences due to increased protein expression as well as the specific mutation. To determine the impact of these distinct responses on RAS mutational patterning in vivo, all four alleles were globally activated, revealing that hematolymphopoietic lesions were permissive to the level of active oncoprotein, squamous tumors were permissive to the G12D mutant, while carcinomas were permissive to both these features. We suggest that different KRAS mutations impart unique signaling properties that are preferentially capable of inducing tumor initiation in a distinct cell-specific manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere75715
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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