First published June 25, 2019 - More info
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most frequent neoplastic disorder and is a main cause of tumor-related mortality as many patients progress to stage IV metastatic CRC. Standard care consists of combination chemotherapy (FOLFIRI or FOLFOX). Patients with WT KRAS typing are eligible to receive anti-EGFR therapy combined with chemotherapy. Unfortunately, predicting efficacy of CRC anti-EGFR therapy has remained challenging. Here we uncover that the EGFR-pathway component RasGRP1 acts as CRC tumor suppressor in the context of aberrant Wnt signaling. We find that RasGRP1 suppresses EGF-driven proliferation of colonic epithelial organoids. Having established that RasGRP1 dosage levels impacts biology, we focused on CRC patients next. Mining five different data platforms, we establish that RasGRP1 expression levels decrease with CRC progression and predict poor clinical outcome of patients. Lastly, deletion of one or two Rasgrp1 alleles makes CRC spheroids more susceptible to EGFR inhibition. Retrospective analysis of the CALGB80203 clinical trial shows that addition of anti-EGFR therapy to chemotherapy significantly improves outcome for CRC patients when tumors express low RasGRP1 suppressor levels. In sum, RasGRP1 is a unique biomarker positioned in the EGFR pathway and of potential relevance to anti-EGFR therapy for CRC patients.