Translational relevance of SOS1 targeting for KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer

Diego Alem, Xinrui Yang, Francisca Beato, Bhaswati Sarcar, Alexandra F. Tassielli, Ruifan Dai, Tara L. Hogenson, Margaret A. Park, Kun Jiang, Jianfeng Cai, Yu Yuan, Martin E. Fernandez-Zapico, Aik Choon Tan, Jason B. Fleming, Hao Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been challenging to target mutant KRAS (mKRAS) in colorectal cancer (CRC) and other malignancies. Recent efforts have focused on developing inhibitors blocking molecules essential for KRAS activity. In this regard, SOS1 inhibition has arisen as an attractive approach for mKRAS CRC given its essential role as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for this GTPase. Here, we demonstrated the translational value of SOS1 blockade in mKRAS CRC. We used CRC patient-derived organoids (PDOs) as preclinical models to evaluate their sensitivity to SOS1 inhibitor BI3406. A combination of in silico analyses and wet lab techniques was utilized to define potential predictive markers for SOS1 sensitivity and potential mechanisms of resistance in CRC. RNA-seq analysis of CRC PDOs revealed two groups of CRC PDOs with differential sensitivities to SOS1 inhibitor BI3406. The resistant group was enriched in gene sets involving cholesterol homeostasis, epithelial−mesenchymal transition, and TNF-α/NFκB signaling. Expression analysis identified a significant correlation between SOS1 and SOS2 mRNA levels (Spearman's ρ 0.56, p < 0.001). SOS1/2 protein expression was universally present with heterogeneous patterns in CRC cells but only minimal to none in surrounding nonmalignant cells. Only SOS1 protein expression was associated with worse survival in patients with RAS/RAF mutant CRC (p = 0.04). We also found that SOS1/SOS2 protein expression ratio >1 by immunohistochemistry (p = 0.03) instead of KRAS mutation (p = 1) was a better predictive marker to BI3406 sensitivity of CRC PDOs, concordant with the significant positive correlation between SOS1/SOS2 protein expression ratio and SOS1 dependency. Finally, we showed that GTP-bound RAS level underwent rebound even in BI3406-sensitive PDOs with no change of KRAS downstream effector genes, thus suggesting upregulation of guanine nucleotide exchange factor as potential cellular adaptation mechanisms to SOS1 inhibition. Taken together, our results show that high SOS1/SOS2 protein expression ratio predicts sensitivity to SOS1 inhibition and support further clinical development of SOS1-targeting agents in CRC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1037
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Carcinogenesis
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • KRAS
  • SOS1
  • SOS2
  • colorectal cancer
  • therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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