Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a deadly disease with an overall median 5-year survival rate of 8%. This poor prognosis is because of the development of resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy and lack of effective targeted therapies. IκB kinase enhancer (IKBKE) overexpression was previously implicated in chemoresistance. Because IKBKE is frequently elevated in PDAC and IKBKE inhibitors are currently in clinical trials, we evaluated IKBKE as a therapeutic target in this disease. Depletion of IKBKE was found to significantly reduce PDAC cell survival, growth, cancer stem cell renewal, and cell migration and invasion. Notably, IKBKE inhibitor CYT387 and IKBKE knockdown dramatically activated the MAPK pathway. Phospho-RTK array analyses showed that IKBKE inhibition leads to rapid upregulation of ErbB3 and IGF-1R expression, which results in MAPK-ERK pathway activation—thereby limiting the efficacy of IKBKE inhibitors. Furthermore, IKBKE inhibition leads to stabilization of FOXO3a, which is required for RTK upregulation on IKBKE inhibition. Finally, we demonstrated that the IKBKE inhibitors synergize with the MEK inhibitor trametinib to significantly induce cell death and inhibit tumor growth and liver metastasis in an orthotopic PDAC mouse model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research