Molecular cancer therapeutics

Novel p21-Activated Kinase 4 (PAK4) Allosteric Modulators Overcome Drug Resistance and Stemness in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma.

PMID 28062705


The p21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4) is a key downstream effector of the Rho family GTPases and is found to be overexpressed in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells but not in normal human pancreatic ductal epithelia (HPDE). Gene copy number amplification studies in PDAC patient cohorts confirmed PAK4 amplification making it an attractive therapeutic target in PDAC. We investigated the antitumor activity of novel PAK4 allosteric modulators (PAM) on a panel of PDAC cell lines and chemotherapy-resistant flow-sorted PDAC cancer stem cells (CSC). The toxicity and efficacy of PAMs were evaluated in multiple subcutaneous mouse models of PDAC. PAMs (KPT-7523, KPT-7189, KPT-8752, KPT-9307, and KPT-9274) show antiproliferative activity in vitro against different PDAC cell lines while sparing normal HPDE. Cell growth inhibition was concurrent with apoptosis induction and suppression of colony formation in PDAC. PAMs inhibited proliferation and antiapoptotic signals downstream of PAK4. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed disruption of PAK4 complexes containing vimentin. PAMs disrupted CSC spheroid formation through suppression of PAK4. Moreover, PAMs synergize with gemcitabine and oxaliplatin in vitro KPT-9274, currently in a phase I clinical trial (; NCT02702492), possesses desirable pharmacokinetic properties and is well tolerated in mice with the absence of any signs of toxicity when 200 mg/kg daily is administered either intravenously or orally. KPT-9274 as a single agent showed remarkable antitumor activity in subcutaneous xenograft models of PDAC cell lines and CSCs. These proof-of-concept studies demonstrated the antiproliferative effects of novel PAMs in PDAC and warrant further clinical investigations. Mol Cancer Ther; 16(1); 76-87. ©2016 AACR.

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EHU073951 MISSION® esiRNA, esiRNA human PAK4 (esiRNA1)