The Rottapel Lab


Co-dependency between KRAS addiction and ARHGEF2 promotes an adaptive escape from MAPK pathway inhibition.

Kent OA, Sandi MJ, Rottapel R.

Small GTPases. 2017 Jun 28:1-8. doi: 10.1080/21541248.2017.1337545.

Oncogenic KRAS engages multiple effector pathways including the MAPK cascade to promote proliferation and survival of pancreatic cancer cells. KRAS-transformed cancer cells exhibit oncogene addiction to sustained activity of RAS for maintenance of malignant phenotypes. Previously, we have shown an essential role for the RHO guanine exchange factor ARHGEF2 for growth and survival of RAS-transformed pancreatic tumors. Here, we have determined that pancreatic cancer cells demonstrating KRAS addiction are significantly dependent on expression of ARHGEF2. Furthermore, enforced expression of ARHGEF2 desensitizes cells to pharmacological MEK inhibition and initiates a positive feedback loop which activates ERK phosphorylation and the downstream ARHGEF2 promoter. Therefore, targeting ARHGEF2 expression may increase the efficacy of MAPK inhibitors for treatment of RAS-dependent pancreatic cancers.