Oncogenic KRAS mutations in colorectal cancer (CRC) are associated with lack of benefit from epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-directed antibody (Ab) therapy. However, the mechanisms by which constitutively activated KRAS (KRASG12V) impairs effector mechanisms of EGFR-Abs are incompletely understood. Here, we established isogenic cell line models to systematically investigate the impact of KRASG12V on tumor growth in mouse A431 xenograft models as well as on various modes of action triggered by EGFR-Abs in vitro. KRASG12V impaired EGFR-Ab-mediated growth inhibition by stimulating receptor-independent downstream signaling. KRASG12V also rendered tumor cells less responsive to Fc-mediated effector mechanisms of EGFR-Abs-such as complementdependent cytotoxicity (CDC) and Ab-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Impaired CDC and ADCC activities could be linked to reduced EGFR expression in KRAS-mutated versus wild-type (wt) cells, which was restored by small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of KRAS4b. Immunohistochemistry experiments also revealed lower EGFR expression in KRASmutated versus KRAS-wt harboring CRC samples. Analyses of potential mechanisms by which KRASG12V downregulated EGFR expression demonstrated significantly decreased activity of six distinct transcription factors. Additional experiments suggested the CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) family to be implicated in the regulation of EGFR promoter activity in KRAS-mutated tumor cells by suppressing EGFR transcription through up-regulation of the inhibitory family member C/EBPβ-LIP. Thus, siRNA-mediated knockdown of C/EBPβ led to enhanced EGFR expression and Ab-mediated cytotoxicity against KRAS-mutated cells. Together, these results demonstrate that KRASG12V signaling induced C/EBPβ-dependent suppression of EGFR expression, thereby impairing Fc-mediated effector mechanisms of EGFR-Abs and rendering KRAS-mutated tumor cells less sensitive to these therapeutic agents.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)