KRAS-enhanced macropinocytosis and reduced FcRn-mediated recycling sensitize pancreatic cancer to albumin-conjugated drugs
Liu, H; Sun, M; LIU, Z; Kong, C; Kong, W; Ye, J; Gong, J; Huang, DCS; Qian, F
Journal of Controlled Release
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a dominantly (~95%) KRAS-mutant cancer that has extremely poor prognosis, in part this is due to its strong intrinsic resistance towards almost all therapeutic agents. PDAC relies heavily on KRAS-transformed metabolism, including enhanced macropinocytosis and catabolism of extracellular albumin, to maintain its proliferation and progression. However, it has yet to be validated that whether such transformed metabolism could be exploited for the drug delivery to open therapeutic windows of cytotoxic agents in KRAS-mutant PDAC. In this study, we attempt to answer this question by focusing on the impact of two critical regulators of albumin catabolism, KRAS and the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn), on the sensitivity of PDAC to doxorubicin (DOX, a model cytotoxic agent) and albumin-conjugated doxorubicin (DOX-ALB). Using cell lines and cell-derived xenografts with different KRAS genotypes and FcRn levels, we demonstrated that KRAS-enhanced macropinocytosis and reduced FcRn expression sensitize PDAC to DOX-ALB but not free DOX. In both in vitro and in vivo comparsion, the DOX-ALB demonstrated ~10 times enlarged therapeutic window compared with free DOX, in PDAC with KRAS mutation and reduced FcRn level, two events appear to occur simultaneously in the investigated PDAC. In summary, we conclude that albumin conjugation is an exploitable drug delivery strategy that significantly opens the therapeutic windows of otherwise undevelopable anti-cancer agents for KRAS-mutant PDAC therapy, and creates a new landscape for clinical evaluation and future translation of such compounds.