The KRAS-regulated kinome identifies WEE1 and ERK coinhibition as a potential therapeutic strategy in KRAS-mutant pancreatic cancer

J. Nathaniel Diehl, Jennifer E. Klomp, Kayla R. Snare, Priya S. Hibshman, Devon R. Blake, Zane D. Kaiser, Thomas S.K. Gilbert, Elisa Baldelli, Mariaelena Pierobon, Björn Papke, Runying Yang, Richard G. Hodge, Naim U. Rashid, Emanuel F. Petricoin, Laura E. Herring, Lee M. Graves, Adrienne D. Cox, Channing J. Der*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Oncogenic KRAS drives cancer growth by activating diverse signaling networks, not all of which have been fully delineated. We set out to establish a system-wide profile of the KRASregulated kinase signaling network (kinome) in KRAS-mutant pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We knocked down KRAS expression in a panel of six cell lines and then applied multiplexed inhibitor bead/MS to monitor changes in kinase activity and/or expression. We hypothesized that depletion of KRAS would result in downregulation of kinases required for KRAS-mediated transformation and in upregulation of other kinases that could potentially compensate for the deleterious consequences of the loss of KRAS. We identified 15 upregulated and 13 downregulated kinases in common across the panel of cell lines. In agreement with our hypothesis, all 15 of the upregulated kinases have established roles as cancer drivers (e.g., SRC, TGF-β1, ILK), and pharmacological inhibition of one of these upregulated kinases, DDR1, suppressed PDAC growth. Interestingly, 11 of the 13 downregulated kinases have established driver roles in cell cycle progression, particularly in mitosis (e.g., WEE1, Aurora A, PLK1). Consistent with a crucial role for the downregulated kinases in promoting KRAS-driven proliferation, we found that pharmacological inhibition of WEE1 also suppressed PDAC growth. The unexpected paradoxical activation of ERK upon WEE1 inhibition led us to inhibit both WEE1 and ERK concurrently, which caused further potent growth suppression and enhanced apoptotic death compared with WEE1 inhibition alone. We conclude that system-wide delineation of the KRAS-regulated kinome can identify potential therapeutic targets for KRAS-mutant pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101335
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


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