Cell 2015 Jul;162(1):146-59
Department I of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Cologne, Weyertal 115B, 50931 Cologne, Germany; CECAD, University of Cologne, Weyertal 115B, 50931 Cologne, Germany. Electronic address:
KRAS is one of the most frequently mutated oncogenes in human cancer. Despite substantial efforts, no clinically applicable strategy has yet been developed to effectively treat KRAS-mutant tumors. Here, we perform a cell-line-based screen and identify strong synergistic interactions between cell-cycle checkpoint-abrogating Chk1- and MK2 inhibitors, specifically in KRAS- and BRAF-driven cells. Mechanistically, we show that KRAS-mutant cancer displays intrinsic genotoxic stress, leading to tonic Chk1- and MK2 activity. We demonstrate that simultaneous Chk1- and MK2 inhibition leads to mitotic catastrophe in KRAS-mutant cells. This actionable synergistic interaction is validated using xenograft models, as well as distinct Kras- or Braf-driven autochthonous murine cancer models. Lastly, we show that combined checkpoint inhibition induces apoptotic cell death in KRAS- or BRAF-mutant tumor cells directly isolated from patients. These results strongly recommend simultaneous Chk1- and MK2 inhibition as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of KRAS- or BRAF-driven cancers.