Killing of Kras-mutant colon cancer cells via Rac-independent actin remodeling by the βGBP cytokine, a physiological PI3K inhibitor therapeutically effective in vivo

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Activating mutations in Kras are the most frequent mutations in human cancer. They define a subset of patients who do not respond to current therapies and for whom prognosis is poor. Oncogenic Kras has been shown to deregulate numerous signaling pathways of which the most intensively studied are the Ras/extracellular signal-regulated kinase cascade and the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt cascade. However, to date, there are no effective targeted therapies in the clinic against Kras-mutant cancers. Here, we report that the β-galactoside-binding protein (βGBP) cytokine, a physiologic inhibitor of class I PI3Ks, is a potent activator of apoptosis in Kras-mutant colorectal cancer cells, even when coharboring mutant-activated PIK3CA. Our study unveils an elective route to intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis, which involves the cytoskeleton. Early events are inhibition of PI3K activity and Rac-independent actin rearrangement assignable to phosphoinositide changes at the plasma membrane. Cyclin E deregulation, arrest of DNA synthesis, and checkpoint kinase 2 activation underscore events critical to the activation of an intrinsic apoptotic program. Clustering of CD95/Fas death receptors underscore events critical to the activation of extrinsic apoptosis. In nude mice, we present the first evidence that xenograft tumor development is strongly inhibited by Hu-r-βGBP. Taken together, our results open a new therapeutic opportunity to a subset of patients refractive to current treatments. This first demonstration of therapeutic efficacy against Kras-mutant colon cancer suggests that Hu-r-βGBP may also be therapeutically effective against other cancers harboring activating Ras mutations as well as PIK3CA mutations.

Journal details

Volume 11
Issue number 9
Pages 1884-1893
Publication date