Bcl-xL is a key mediator of apoptosis following KRASG12C inhibition in KRASG12C-mutant colorectal cancer

Hajrah Khawaja, Rebecca Briggs, Cheryl H. Latimer, Mustasin Rassel, Daryl Griffin, Lyndsey Hanson, Alberto Bardelli, Frederica Di Nicolantonio, Simon S. McDade, Christopher J. Scott, Shauna Lambe, Manisha Maurya, Andreas U. Lindner, Jochen H.M. Prehn, Jose Sousa, Chris Winnington, Melissa J. LaBonte, Sarah Ross, Sandra Van Schaeybroeck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


Novel covalent inhibitors of KRASG12C have shown limited response rates in patients with KRASG12C-mutant (MT) colorectal cancer. Thus, novel KRASG12C inhibitor combination strategies that can achieve deep and durable responses are needed. Small-molecule KRASG12C inhibitors AZ’1569 and AZ’8037 were used. To identify novel candidate combination strategies for AZ’1569, we performed RNA sequencing, siRNA, and high-throughput drug screening. Top hits were validated in a panel of KRASG12CMT colorectal cancer cells and in vivo. AZ’1569-resistant colorectal cancer cells were generated and characterized. We found that response to AZ’1569 was heterogeneous across the KRASG12CMT models. AZ’1569 was ineffective at inducing apoptosis when used as a single agent or combined with chemotherapy or agents targeting the EGFR/KRAS/AKT axis. Using a systems biology approach, we identified the antiapoptotic BH3-family member BCL2L1/Bcl-xL as a top hit mediating resistance to AZ’1569. Further analyses identified acute increases in the proapoptotic protein BIM following AZ’1569 treatment. ABT-263 (navitoclax), a pharmacologic Bcl-2 family inhibitor that blocks the ability of Bcl-xL to bind and inhibit BIM, led to dramatic and universal apoptosis when combined with AZ’1569. Furthermore, this combination also resulted in dramatically attenuated tumor growth in KRASG12CMT xenografts. Finally, AZ’1569-resistant cells showed amplification of KRASG12C, EphA2/c-MET activation, increased proinflammatory chemokine profile and cross-resistance to several targeted agents. Importantly, KRAS amplification and AZ’1569 resistance were reversible upon drug withdrawal, arguing strongly for the use of drug holidays in the case of KRAS amplification. Taken together, combinatorial targeting of Bcl-xL and KRASG12C is highly effective, suggesting a novel therapeutic strategy for patients with KRASG12CMT colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135–149
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2023


  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Bcl-xL is a key mediator of apoptosis following KRASG12C inhibition in KRASG12C-mutant colorectal cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this