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Opposite Effects of Src Family Kinases on YAP and ERK Activation in Pancreatic Cancer Cells: Implications for Targeted Therapy

Published date

November 1, 2022


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains an aggressive disease that is expected to become the second cause of cancer fatalities during the next decade. As therapeutic options are limited, novel targets, and agents for therapeutic intervention are urgently needed. Previously, we identified potent positive crosstalk between insulin/IGF-1 receptors and G protein-coupled (GPCR) signaling systems leading to mitogenic signaling in PDAC cells. Here, we show that a combination of insulin and the GPCR agonist neurotensin induced rapid activation of Src family of tyrosine kinases (SFK) within PANC-1 cells, as shown by FAK phosphorylation at Tyr576/577 and Tyr861, sensitive biomarkers of SFK activity within intact cells and Src416 autophosphorylation. Crucially, SFKs promoted YAP nuclear localization and phosphorylation at Tyr357, as shown by using the SFK inhibitors dasatinib, saracatinib, the preferential YES1 inhibitor CH6953755, siRNA-mediated knockdown of YES1, and transfection of epitogue-tagged YAP mutants in PANC-1 and Mia PaCa-2 cancer cells, models of the aggressive squamous subtype of PDAC. Surprisingly, our results also demonstrate that exposure to SFK inhibitors, including dasatinib or knockdown of YES and Src induces ERK overactivation in PDAC cells. Dasatinib-induced ERK activation was completely abolished by exposure to the FDA-approved MEK inhibitor trametinib. A combination of dasatinib and trametinib potently and synergistically inhibited colony formation by PDAC cells and suppressed the growth of Mia PaCa-2 cells xenografted into the flank of nude mice. The results provide rationale for considering a combination(s) of FDA-approved SFK (dasatinib) and MEK (e.g., trametinib) inhibitors in prospective clinical trials for the treatment of PDAC.


James Sinnett-Smith, Tarique Anwar, Elaine F Reed, Yaroslav Teper, Guido Eibl, Enrique Rozengurt

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