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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains one of the deadliest malignancies. It is phenotypically heterogeneous with a highly unstable genome and provides few common therapeutic targets. We found that MCL1, Cofilin1 (CFL1) and SRC mRNA were highly expressed by a wide range of these cancers, suggesting that a strategy of dual MCL-1 and SRC inhibition might be efficacious for many patients. Immunohistochemistry revealed that MCL-1 protein was present at high levels in 94.7% of patients in a cohort of PDACs from Australian Pancreatic Genome Initiative (APGI). High MCL1 and Cofilin1 mRNA expression was also strongly predictive of poor outcome in the TCGA dataset and in the APGI cohort. In culture, MCL-1 antagonism reduced the level of the cytoskeletal remodeling protein Cofilin1 and phosphorylated SRC on the active Y416 residue, suggestive of reduced invasive capacity. The MCL-1 antagonist S63845 synergized with the SRC kinase inhibitor dasatinib to reduce cell viability and invasiveness through 3D-organotypic matrices. In preclinical murine models, this combination reduced primary tumor growth and liver metastasis of pancreatic cancer xenografts. These data suggest that MCL-1 antagonism, while reducing cell viability, may have an additional benefit in increasing the antimetastatic efficacy of dasatinib for the treatment of PDAC.


Lesley Castillo, Adelaide I J Young, Amanda Mawson, Pia Schafranek, Angela M Steinmann, Danielle Nessem, Ashleigh Parkin, Amber Johns, Angela Chou, Andrew M K Law, Morghan C Lucas, Kendelle J Murphy, Niantao Deng, David Gallego-Ortega, Catherine E Caldon, Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (APGI), Paul Timpson, Marina Pajic, Christopher J Ormandy, Samantha R Oakes. MCL-1 antagonism enhances the anti-invasive effects of dasatinib in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Oncogene. 2020 Feb;39(8):1821-1829

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PMID: 31735913

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