A molecular subtype of colorectal cancers initiates independently of epidermal growth factor receptor and has an accelerated growth rate mediated by IL10-dependent anergy. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeted therapies are approved for colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment, only 15% of CRC patients respond to EGFR inhibition. Here, we show that colorectal cancers (CRC) can initiate and grow faster through an EGFR-independent mechanism, irrespective of the presence of EGFR, in two different mouse models using tissue-specific ablation of Egfr. The growth benefit in the absence of EGFR is also independent of Kras status. An EGFR-independent gene expression signature, also observed in human CRCs, revealed that anergy-inducing genes are overexpressed in EGFR-independent polyps, suggesting increased infiltration of anergic lymphocytes promotes an accelerated growth rate that is partially caused by escape from cell-mediated immune responses. Many genes in the EGFR-independent gene expression signature are downstream targets of interleukin 10 receptor alpha (IL10RA). We further show that IL10 is detectable in serum from mice with EGFR-independent colon polyps. Using organoids in vitro and Src ablation in vivo, we show that IL10 contributes to growth of EGFR-independent CRCs, potentially mediated by the well-documented role of SRC in IL10 signaling. Based on these data, we show that the combination of an EGFR inhibitor with an anti-IL10 neutralizing antibody results in decreased cell proliferation in organoids and in decreased polyp size in pre-clinical models harboring EGFR-independent CRCs, providing a new therapeutic intervention for CRCs resistant to EGFR inhibitor therapies.

published proceedings

  • Oncogene

author list (cited authors)

  • Mantilla-Rojas, C., Yu, M., Rinella, E. S., Lynch, R. M., Perry, A., Jaimes-Alvarado, J., ... Threadgill, D. W.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Mantilla-Rojas, Carolina||Yu, Ming||Rinella, Erica S||Lynch, Rachel M||Perry, Amie||Jaimes-Alvarado, Jorge||Anderson, Kathryn R||Barba, Estefania||Bourgeois, Evann J||Konganti, Kranti||Threadgill, David W

publication date

  • April 2021