A high-throughput assay for small molecule destabilizers of the KRAS oncoprotein.
ABSTRACT: Mutations in the Ras family of small GTPases, particularly KRAS, occur at high frequencies in cancer and represent a major unmet therapeutic need due to the lack of effective targeted therapies. Past efforts directed at inhibiting the activity of the Ras oncoprotein have proved difficult. We propose an alternative approach to target Ras by eliminating Ras protein from cells with pharmacological means. In this study, we developed a cell-based, high-content screening platform to identify small molecules that could promote the degradation of the KRAS oncoprotein. We generated an EGFP-KRASG12V fluorescence reporter system and implemented it for automated screening in 1536-well plates using high-throughput cellular imaging. We screened a library of clinically relevant compounds at wide dose range and identified Ponatinib and AMG-47a as two candidate compounds that selectively reduced the levels of EGFP-KRASG12V protein but did not affect EGFP protein in cells. This proof-of-principle study demonstrates that it is feasible to use a high-throughput screen to identify compounds that promote the degradation of the Ras oncoprotein as a new approach to target Ras.
Project description:RAS mutations lead to a constitutively active oncogenic protein that signals through multiple effector pathways. In this chemical biology study, we describe a novel coupled biochemical assay that measures activation of the effector BRAF by prenylated KRASG12V in a lipid-dependent manner. Using this assay, we discovered compounds that block biochemical and cellular functions of KRASG12V with low single-digit micromolar potency. We characterized the structural basis for inhibition using NMR methods and showed that the compounds stabilized the inactive conformation of KRASG12V. Determination of the biophysical affinity of binding using biolayer interferometry demonstrated that the potency of inhibition matches the affinity of binding only when KRAS is in its native state, namely post-translationally modified and in a lipid environment. The assays we describe here provide a first-time alignment across biochemical, biophysical, and cellular KRAS assays through incorporation of key physiological factors regulating RAS biology, namely a negatively charged lipid environment and prenylation, into the in vitro assays. These assays and the ligands we discovered are valuable tools for further study of KRAS inhibition and drug discovery.
Project description:Oncogenic Ras mutants play a major role in the etiology of most aggressive and deadly carcinomas in humans. In spite of continuous efforts, effective pharmacological treatments targeting oncogenic Ras isoforms have not been developed. Cell-surface proteins represent top therapeutic targets primarily due to their accessibility and susceptibility to different modes of cancer therapy. To expand the treatment options of cancers driven by oncogenic Ras, new targets need to be identified and characterized at the surface of cancer cells expressing oncogenic Ras mutants. Here, we describe a mass spectrometry-based method for molecular profiling of the cell surface using KRasG12V transfected MCF10A (MCF10A-KRasG12V) as a model cell line of constitutively activated KRas and native MCF10A cells transduced with an empty vector (EV) as control. An extensive molecular map of the KRas surface was achieved by applying, in parallel, targeted hydrazide-based cell-surface capturing technology and global shotgun membrane proteomics to identify the proteins on the KRasG12V surface. This method allowed for integrated proteomic analysis that identified more than 500 cell-surface proteins found unique or upregulated on the surface of MCF10A-KRasG12V cells. Multistep bioinformatic processing was employed to elucidate and prioritize targets for cross-validation. Scanning electron microscopy and phenotypic cancer cell assays revealed changes at the cell surface consistent with malignant epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation secondary to KRasG12V activation. Taken together, this dataset significantly expands the map of the KRasG12V surface and uncovers potential targets involved primarily in cell motility, cellular protrusion formation, and metastasis.
Project description:The first KRAS(G12C) targeting inhibitor in clinical development, AMG 510, has shown promising antitumor activity in clinical trials. On the molecular level, however, the interaction dynamics of this covalently bound drug-protein complex has been undetermined. Here, we disclose the interaction dynamics of the KRAS(G12C)-AMG 510 complex by long timescale all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations (total of 75 ?s). Moreover, we investigated the influence of the recently reported post-translational modification (PTM) of KRAS' N-terminus, removal of initiator methionine (iMet1) with acetylation of Thr2, to this complex. Our results demonstrate that AMG 510 does not entrap KRAS into a single conformation, as one would expect based on the crystal structure, but rather into an ensemble of conformations. AMG 510 binding is extremely stable regardless of highly dynamic interface of KRAS' switches. Overall, KRAS(G12C)-AMG 510 complex partially mimic the native dynamics of GDP bound KRAS; however, AMG 510 stabilizes the ?3-helix region. N-terminally modified KRAS displays similar interaction dynamics with AMG 510 as when Met1 is present, but this PTM appears to stabilize ?2-?3-loop. These results provide novel conformational insights on the molecular level to KRAS(G12C)-AMG 510 interactions and dynamics, providing new perspectives to RAS related drug discovery.
Project description:Because Ras signaling is frequently activated by major hepatocellular carcinoma etiological factors, a transgenic zebrafish constitutively expressing the kras(V12) oncogene in the liver was previously generated by our laboratory. Although this model depicted and uncovered the conservation between zebrafish and human liver tumorigenesis, the low tumor incidence and early mortality limit its use for further studies of tumor progression and inhibition. Here, we employed a mifepristone-inducible transgenic system to achieve inducible kras(V12) expression in the liver. The system consisted of two transgenic lines: the liver-driver line had a liver-specific fabp10 promoter to produce the LexPR chimeric transactivator, and the Ras-effector line contained a LexA-binding site to control EGFP-kras(V12) expression. In double-transgenic zebrafish (driver-effector) embryos and adults, we demonstrated mifepristone-inducible EGFP-kras(V12) expression in the liver. Robust and homogeneous liver tumors developed in 100% of double-transgenic fish after 1 month of induction and the tumors progressed from hyperplasia by 1 week post-treatment (wpt) to carcinoma by 4 wpt. Strikingly, liver tumorigenesis was found to be 'addicted' to Ras signaling for tumor maintenance, because mifepristone withdrawal led to tumor regression via cell death in transgenic fish. We further demonstrated the potential use of the transparent EGFP-kras(V12) larvae in inhibitor treatments to suppress Ras-driven liver tumorigenesis by targeting its downstream effectors, including the Raf-MEK-ERK and PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathways. Collectively, this mifepristone-inducible and reversible kras(V12) transgenic system offers a novel model for understanding hepatocarcinogenesis and a high-throughput screening platform for anti-cancer drugs.
Project description:We compared the profile of miRNAs expressed in HEK293 and MRC5 cells that overexpressed KRASG12V to those expressed in parental cells that harbored wild-type KRAS. The results indicated that a subset of miRNAs was significantly down-regulated in KRASG12V transfected two cells. To address the functional relevance of miRNAs in KRAS mutant cancers, we transfected exogenous KRASG12V into HEK293 and MRC5 cells with wild type KRAS genes, and we comprehensively profiled the dysregulated miRNAs.
Project description:The RAS proteins are the most frequently mutated oncogenes in cancer, with highest frequency found in pancreatic, lung, and colon tumors. Moreover, the activity of RAS is required for the proliferation and/or survival of these tumor cells and thus represents a high-value target for therapeutic development. Direct targeting of RAS has proven challenging for multiple reasons stemming from the biology of the protein, the complexity of downstream effector pathways and upstream regulatory networks. Thus, significant efforts have been directed at identifying downstream targets on which RAS is dependent. These efforts have proven challenging, in part due to confounding factors such as reliance on two-dimensional adherent monolayer cell cultures that inadequately recapitulate the physiologic context to which cells are exposed in vivo. To overcome these issues, we implemented a high-throughput screening (HTS) approach using a spheroid-based 3-dimensional culture format, thought to more closely reflect conditions experienced by cells in vivo. Using isogenic cell pairs, differing in the status of KRAS, we identified Proscillaridin A as a selective inhibitor of cells harboring the oncogenic KRasG12V allele. Significantly, the identification of Proscillaridin A was facilitated by the 3D screening platform and would not have been discovered employing standard 2D culturing methods.
Project description:The KRAS mutations have been an obstacle to identify therapeutic targets in cancer treatment. In this work, we clarified the distinct metastasis pattern of non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) induced by KRASG12V/KRASG12D mutations and inhibited the KRASG12V mediated metastasis by Wnt inhibitor. First, we found that KRASG12V induced more aggressive phenotype in vitro and in vivo experiments. The Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) results of H838 KRASG12V cells showed a significant negative correlation with RhoA-related signaling. Following this clue, we observed KRASG12D induced higher activation of RhoA and suppressed activation of Wnt/?-catenin in H838KRASG12D cells. The restored activation of Wnt/?-catenin in H838KRASG12D cells could be detected when expression with a dominant-negative mutant of RhoA or treatment with RhoA inhibitor. Furthermore, the Wnt inhibitor abolished the KRASG12V-induced migration. We elucidated the importance of the axis of RhoA/Wnt in regulatory NSCLC metastasis driven by KRAS mutations. Our data indicate that KRASG12V driven NSCLC metastasis is Wnt-dependent and the mechanisms of NSCLC metastasis induced by KRASG12V/KRASG12D is distinct.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer is a common disease that involves genetic alterations, such as inactivation of tumour suppressor genes and activation of oncogenes. Among them are RAS and BRAF mutations, which rarely coexist in the same tumour. Individual members of the Rho (Ras homology) GTPases contribute with distinct roles in tumour cell morphology, invasion and metastasis. The aim of this study is to dissect cell migration and invasion pathways that are utilised by BRAFV600E as compared to KRASG12V and HRASG12V oncoproteins. In particular, the role of RhoA (Ras homolog gene family, member A), Rac1 (Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1) and Cdc42 (cell division cycle 42) in cancer progression induced by each of the three oncogenes is described. METHODS: Colon adenocarcinoma cells with endogenous as well as ectopically expressed or silenced oncogenic mutations of BRAFV600E, KRASG12V and HRASG12V were employed. Signalling pathways and Rho GTPases were inhibited with specific kinase inhibitors and siRNAs. Cell motility and invasion properties were correlated with cytoskeletal properties and Rho GTPase activities. RESULTS: Evidence presented here indicate that BRAFV600E significantly induces cell migration and invasion properties in vitro in colon cancer cells, at least in part through activation of RhoA GTPase. The relationship established between BRAFV600E and RhoA activation is mediated by the MEK-ERK pathway. In parallel, KRASG12V enhances the ability of colon adenocarcinoma cells Caco-2 to migrate and invade through filopodia formation and PI3K-dependent Cdc42 activation. Ultimately increased cell migration and invasion, mediated by Rac1, along with the mesenchymal morphology obtained through the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) were the main characteristics rendered by HRASG12V in Caco-2 cells. Moreover, BRAF and KRAS oncogenes are shown to cooperate with the TGF?-1 pathway to provide cells with additional transforming properties. CONCLUSION: This study discriminates oncogene-specific cell migration and invasion pathways mediated by Rho GTPases in colon cancer cells and reveals potential new oncogene-specific characteristics for targeted therapeutics.
Project description:KRAS mutations are associated with rare cases of neurodevelopmental disorders that can cause intellectual disabilities. Previous studies showed that mice expressing a mutant KRAS have impaired the development and function of GABAergic inhibitory neurons, which may contribute to behavioural deficits in the mutant mice. However, the underlying cellular mechanisms and the role of excitatory neurons in these behavioural deficits in adults are not fully understood. Herein, we report that neuron type-specific expression of a constitutively active mutant KRASG12V in either excitatory or inhibitory neurons resulted in spatial memory deficits in adult mice. In inhibitory neurons, KRASG12V induced ERK activation and enhanced GABAergic synaptic transmission. Expressing KRASG12V in inhibitory neurons also impaired long-term potentiation in the hippocampal Shaffer-collateral pathway, which could be rescued by picrotoxin treatment. In contrast, KRASG12V induced ERK activation and neuronal cell death in excitatory neurons, which might have contributed to the severe behavioural deficits. Our results showed that both excitatory and inhibitory neurons are involved in mutant KRAS-associated learning deficits in adults via distinct cellular mechanisms.
Project description:Although the development of drugs that control Ras is an emerging topic in cancer therapy, no clinically applicable drug is currently available. We have previously utilized knowledge of the Wnt/?-catenin signaling-dependent mechanism of Ras protein stability regulation to identify small molecules that inhibit the proliferation and transformation of various colorectal cancer (CRC) cells via degradation of both ?-catenin and Ras. Due to the absence of Ras degradation in cells expressing a nondegradable mutant form of ?-catenin and the need to determine an alternative mechanism of Ras degradation, we designed a cell-based system to screen compounds that degrade Ras independent of the Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway. A cell-based high-content screening (HCS) system that monitors the levels of EGFP-K-RasG12V was established using HCT-116 cells harboring a nondegradable mutant CTNNB1 (?S45). Through HCS of a chemical library composed of 10,000 compounds and subsequent characterization of hits, we identified several compounds that degrade Ras without affecting the ?-catenin levels. KY7749, one of the most effective compounds, inhibited the proliferation and transformation of CRC cells, especially KRAS-mutant cells that are resistant to the EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab. Small molecules that degrade Ras independent of ?-catenin may able to be used in treatments for cancers caused by aberrant EGFR and Ras.