Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a major unmet medical need and a deeper understanding of molecular drivers is needed to advance therapeutic options for patients. We report here that p21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1) is a central node in PDAC cells downstream of multiple growth factor signalling pathways, including hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and MET receptor tyrosine kinase. PAK1 inhibition blocks signalling to cytoskeletal effectors and tumour cell motility driven by HGF/MET. MET antagonists, such as onartuzumab and crizotinib, are currently in clinical development. Given that even highly effective therapies have resistance mechanisms, we show that combination with PAK1 inhibition overcomes potential resistance mechanisms mediated either by activation of parallel growth factor pathways or by direct amplification of PAK1. Inhibition of PAK1 attenuated in vivo tumour growth and metastasis in a model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In human tissues, PAK1 is highly expressed in a proportion of PDACs (33% IHC score 2 or 3; n = 304) and its expression is significantly associated with MET positivity (p < 0.0001) and linked to a widespread metastatic pattern in patients (p = 0.067). Taken together, our results provide evidence for a functional role of MET/PAK1 signalling in pancreatic adenocarcinoma and support further characterization of therapeutic inhibitors in this indication.
- GDC-0941 (pictilisib)
- Pancreatic adenocarcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine