Small molecule inhibitor against onco-mucins disrupts Src/FosL1 axis to enhance gemcitabine efficacy in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Chunmeng Zhang, Pranita Atri, Palanisamy Nallasamy, Seema Parte, Sanchita Rauth, Rama Krishna Nimmakayala, Saravanakumar Marimuthu, Ramakanth Chirravuri-Venkata, Rakesh Bhatia, Sushanta Halder, Ashu Shah, Jesse L. Cox, Lynette Smith, Sushil Kumar, Jason M. Foster, Rakesh C. Kukreja, Parthasarathy Seshacharyulu, Moorthy P. Ponnusamy, Surinder K. Batra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mucin MUC4 is an aberrantly expressed oncogene in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), yet no pharmacological inhibitors have been identified to target MUC4. Here, we adapted an in silico screening method using the Cancer Therapeutic Response Database (CTRD) to Identify Small Molecule Inhibitors against Mucins (SMIMs). We identified Bosutinib as a candidate drug to target oncogenic mucins among 126 FDA-approved drugs from CTRD screening. Functionally, Bosutinib treatment alone/and in combination with gemcitabine (Gem)/5′ fluorouracil (5FU) reduced in vitro viability, migration, and colony formation in multiple PDAC cell lines as well as human PDAC organoid prolifertaion and growth and in vivo xenograft growth. Further, biochemical and molecular analyses showed that Bosutinib exhibited these functional effects by downregulating MUC4 mucin at both transcript and translation levels in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Mechanistically, global transcriptome analysis in PDAC cells upon treatment with Bosutinib revealed disruption of the Src-ERK/AKT-FosL1 pathway, leading to decreased expression of MUC4 and MUC5AC mucins. Taken together, Bosutinib is a promising, novel, and highly potent SMIMs to target MUC4/MUC5AC mucins. This mucin-targeting effect of Bosutinib can be exploited in the future with cytotoxic agents to treat mucinous tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number215922
JournalCancer Letters
StatePublished - Dec 28 2022


  • Bosutinib
  • MUC4
  • MUC5AC
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  • SRC/ERK/FosL1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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