Mst1/2 kinases restrain transformation in a novel transgenic model of Ras driven non-small cell lung cancer

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© 2019, Springer Nature Limited. Non-small cell lung cancer remains a highly lethal malignancy. Using the tamoxifen inducible Hnf1b:CreERT2 (H) transgenic mouse crossed to the LsL-KrasG12D (K) transgenic mouse, we recently discovered that an Hnf1b positive cell type in the lung is sensitive to adenoma formation when expressing a mutant KrasG12D allele. In these mice, we observe adenoma formation over a time frame of three to six months. To study specificity of the inducible Hnf1b:CreERT2 in the lung, we employed lineage tracing using an mTmG (G) reporter allele. This technique revealed recombined, GFP+ cells were predominantly SPC+. We further employed this technique in HKG mice to determine Hnf1b+ cells give rise to adenomas that express SPC and TTF1. Review of murine lung tissue confirmed a diagnosis of adenoma and early adenocarcinoma, a pathologic subtype of non-small cell lung cancer. Our expanded mouse model revealed loss of Mst1/2 promotes aggressive lung adenocarcinoma and large-scale proteomic analysis revealed upregulation of PKM2 in the lungs of mice with genetic deletion of Mst1/2. PKM2 is a known metabolic regulator in proliferating cells and cancer. Using a human lung adenocarcinoma cell line, we show pharmacologic inhibition of Mst1/2 increases the abundance of PKM2, indicating genetic loss or pharmacologic inhibition of Mst1/2 directly modulates the abundance of PKM2. In conclusion, here we report a novel model of non-small cell lung cancer driven by a mutation in Kras and deletion of Mst1/2 kinases. Tumor development is restricted to a subset of alveolar type II cells expressing Hnf1b. Our data show loss of Mst1/2 regulates levels of a potent metabolic regulator, PKM2.

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