Oncogenic KRAS recruits an expansive transcriptional network through mutant p53 to drive pancreatic cancer metastasis

Michael P. Kim, Xinqun Li, Jenying Deng, Yun Zhang, Bingbing Dai, Kendra L. Allton, Tara G. Hughes, Christian Siangco, Jithesh J. Augustine, Ya’An Kang, Joy M. McDaniel, Shunbin Xiong, Eugene J. Koay, Florencia McAllister, Christopher A. Bristow, Timothy P. Heffernan, Anirban Maitra, Bin Liu, Michelle C. Barton, Amanda R. WasylishenJason B. Fleming, Guillermina Lozano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is almost uniformly fatal and characterized by early metastasis. Oncogenic KRAS mutations prevail in 95% of PDAC tumors and co-occur with genetic alterations in the TP53 tumor suppressor in nearly 70% of patients. Most TP53 alterations are missense mutations that exhibit gain-of-function phenotypes that include increased invasiveness and metastasis, yet the extent of direct cooperation between KRAS effectors and mutant p53 remains largely undefined. We show that oncogenic KRAS effectors activate CREB1 to allow physical interactions with mutant p53 that hyperactivate multiple prometastatic transcriptional networks. Specifically, mutant p53 and CREB1 upregulate the prometastatic, pioneer transcription factor FOXA1, activating its transcriptional network while promoting WNT/β-catenin signaling, together driving PDAC metastasis. Pharmacologic CREB1 inhibition dramatically reduced FOXA1 and β-catenin expression and dampened PDAC metastasis, identifying a new therapeutic strategy to disrupt cooperation between oncogenic KRAS and mutant p53 to mitigate metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2094-2111
Number of pages18
JournalCancer Discovery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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