Aberrant accumulation of Kras-dependent enhancer RNAs during tumor progression renders cancer cells susceptible to PAF1 depletion

Published: 9 August 2023| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/ybmr387wyv.2
Mo Chen, Xinhong Liu, Xiangzheng Liu, Yingxue Du, Di Zou, Chen Tian, Yong Li, Xun Lan, Charles David, Qianwen Sun


KRAS is the most commonly mutated oncogene in human cancer and mutant KRAS is responsible for over 90% of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the most lethal cancer. Here, we show that RNA polymerase II associated factor 1 complex (PAF1C) is specifically required for the survival of PDAC but not normal adult pancreatic cells. We show that PAF1C maintains cancer cell genomic stability by restraining the over accumulation of enhancer RNAs (eRNAs) and PROMPTs driven by mutant Kras. Loss of PAF1C leads to cancer-specific lengthening and accumulation of pervasive transcripts on chromatin, and concomitant aberrant R-loop formation and DNA damage, which in turn trigger cell death. We go on to demonstrate that the global transcriptional hyperactivation driven by Kras signaling during tumorigenesis underlies the specific demand for PAF1C by cancer cells. Our work provides insights in how enhancer transcription hyperactivation causes general transcription factor addiction during tumorigenesis.



Tsinghua University School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University School of Medicine


Cell Biology, Tumor Biology, Pancreatic Cancer


National Key Research and Development Program of China


Natural Science Foundation of China


National Key Research and Development Program of China