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Accession IconGSE37645

The gamma secretase inhibitor MRK-003 attenuates pancreatic cancer growth in preclinical models

Organism Icon Homo sapiens
Sample Icon 18 Downloadable Samples
Technology Badge Icon Affymetrix Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 Array (hgu133plus2)

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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a nearly uniformly lethal malignancy, with most patients facing an adverse clinical outcome. Given the pivotal role of aberrant Notch signaling in the initiation and progression of PDAC, we investigated the effect of MRK-003, a potent and selective -secretase inhibitor, in preclinical PDAC models. We used a panel of human PDAC cell lines, as well as patient-derived PDAC xenografts, to determine whether pharmacological targeting of the Notch pathway could inhibit pancreatic tumor growth and potentiate gemcitabine sensitivity. In vitro, MRK-003 treatment downregulated the canonical Notch target gene Hes-1, significantly inhibited anchorage independent growth, and reduced the subset of CD44+CD24+ and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)+ cells that have been attributed with tumor initiating capacity. Ex vivo pretreatment of PDAC cells with MRK-003 in culture significantly inhibited the subsequent engraftment in immunocompromised mice. In vivo, MRK-003 monotherapy significantly blocked tumor growth in 5 of 9 (56%) patient-derived PDAC xenografts. Moreover, a combination of MRK-003 and gemcitabine showed enhanced antitumor effects compared to gemcitabine alone in 4 of 9 (44%) PDAC xenografts. Baseline gene expression analysis of the treated xenografts indicated that upregulation of nuclear factor kappa B (NFB) pathway components was associated with the sensitivity to single MRK-003, while upregulation in B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling and nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 (NRF2) pathway correlated with response to the combination of MRK-003 with gemcitabine. The preclinical findings presented here provide further rationale for small molecule inhibition of Notch signaling as a therapeutic strategy in PDAC.
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