Roflumilast inhibits tumor growth and migration in STK11/LKB1 deficient pancreatic cancer

Zhang S, Yun D, Yang H, Eckstein M, Elbait GD, Zhou Y, Lu Y, Yang H, Zhang J, Dörflein I, Britzen-Laurent N, Pfeffer S, Stemmler M, Dahl A, Mukhopadhyay D, Chang D, He H, Zeng S, Lan B, Frey B, Hampel C, Lentsch E, Gollavilli PN, Büttner C, Ekici AB, Biankin A, Schneider-Stock R, Ceppi P, Grützmann R, Pilarsky C (2024)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2024


Book Volume: 10

Article Number: 124

Journal Issue: 1

DOI: 10.1038/s41420-024-01890-y


Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the digestive system. It is highly aggressive, easily metastasizes, and extremely difficult to treat. This study aimed to analyze the genes that might regulate pancreatic cancer migration to provide an essential basis for the prognostic assessment of pancreatic cancer and individualized treatment. A CRISPR knockout library directed against 915 murine genes was transfected into TB 32047 cell line to screen which gene loss promoted cell migration. Next-generation sequencing and analysis was performed to identify candidate genes. We then assessed the effect of serine/threonine kinase 11 (STK11) knockout on pancreatic cancer by wound-healing assay, chick agnosia (CAM) assay, and orthotopic mouse pancreatic cancer model. We performed RNA sequence and Western blotting for mechanistic studies to identify and verify the pathways. After accelerated Transwell migration screening, STK11 was identified as one of the top candidate genes. Further experiments showed that targeted knockout of STK11 promoted the cell migration and increased liver metastasis in mice. Mechanistic analyses revealed that STK11 knockout influences blood vessel morphogenesis and is closely associated with the enhanced expression of phosphodiesterases (PDEs), especially PDE4D, PDE4B, and PDE10A. PDE4 inhibitor Roflumilast inhibited STK11-KO cell migration and tumor size, further demonstrating that PDEs are essential for STK11-deficient cell migration. Our findings support the adoption of therapeutic strategies, including Roflumilast, for patients with STK11-mutated pancreatic cancer in order to improve treatment efficacy and ultimately prolong survival.

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Zhang, S., Yun, D., Yang, H., Eckstein, M., Elbait, G.D., Zhou, Y.,... Pilarsky, C. (2024). Roflumilast inhibits tumor growth and migration in STK11/LKB1 deficient pancreatic cancer. Cell Death Discovery, 10(1).


Zhang, Shuman, et al. "Roflumilast inhibits tumor growth and migration in STK11/LKB1 deficient pancreatic cancer." Cell Death Discovery 10.1 (2024).

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