Mutational activation of KRAS is a common oncogenic event in lung cancer, yet effective therapies are still lacking. Here, we identify B cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6) as a lynchpin in KRAS-driven lung cancer. BCL6 expression was increased upon KRAS activation in lung tumor tissue in mice and was positively correlated with the expression of KRAS-GTP, the active form of KRAS, in various human cancer cell lines. Moreover, BCL6 was highly expressed in human KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinomas and was associated with poor patient survival. Mechanistically, the MAPK/ERK/ELK1 signaling axis downstream of mutant KRAS directly regulated BCL6 expression. BCL6 maintained the global expression of prereplication complex components; therefore, BCL6 inhibition induced stalling of the replication fork, leading to DNA damage and growth arrest in KRAS-mutant lung cancer cells. Importantly, BCL6-specific knockout in lungs significantly reduced the tumor burden and mortality in the LSL-KrasG12D/+ lung cancer mouse model. Likewise, pharmacological inhibition of BCL6 significantly impeded the growth of KRAS-mutant lung cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. In summary, our findings reveal a crucial role of BCL6 in promoting KRAS-addicted lung cancer and suggest BCL6 as a therapeutic target for the treatment of this intractable disease.
Kun Li, Yanan Liu, Yi Ding, Zhengwei Zhang, Juanjuan Feng, Jiaxin Hu, Jiwei Chen, Zhengke Lian, Yiliang Chen, Kewen Hu, Zhi Chen, Zhenyu Cai, Mingyao Liu, Xiufeng Pang
The MAPK/ERK signaling axis contributes to BCL6 expression.