Early detection of pancreatic cancer could save many thousands of lives. Non-invasive diagnostic imaging, including PET with [(18)F]FDG, has inadequate resolution for detection of small (2-3mm) pancreatic tumours. We demonstrated the efficacy of PET imaging with an (18)F-labelled lactose derivative, [(18)F]FEDL, that targets HIP/PAP, a biomarker that is overexpressed in the peritumoural pancreas. We developed another analogue, 1-[(18)F]fluoroethyl lactose ([(18)F]FEL), which is simpler to synthesise, for the same application. We conducted a preliminary evaluation of the new probe and its efficacy in detecting orthotopic pancreatic carcinoma xenografts in mice.
Nanotechnology is emerging as a promising modality for cancer treatment; however, in the realm of cancer prevention, its full utility has yet to be determined. Here, we discuss the potential of integrating nanotechnology in cancer prevention to augment early diagnosis, precision targeting, and controlled release of chemopreventive agents, reduced toxicity, risk/response assessment, and personalized point-of-care monitoring. Cancer is a multistep, progressive disease; the functional and acquired characteristics of the early precancer phenotype are intrinsically different from those of a more advanced anaplastic or invasive malignancy. Therefore, applying nanotechnology to precancers is likely to be far more challenging than applying it to established disease. Frank cancers are more readily identifiable through imaging and biomarker and histopathologic assessment than their precancerous precursors. In addition, prevention subjects routinely have more rigorous intervention criteria than therapy subjects. Any nanopreventive agent developed to prevent sporadic cancers found in the general population must exhibit a very low risk of serious side effects. In contrast, a greater risk of side effects might be more acceptable in subjects at high risk for cancer. Using nanotechnology to prevent cancer is an aspirational goal, but clearly identifying the intermediate objectives and potential barriers is an essential first step in this exciting journey.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the USA, accounting for ~40,000 deaths annually. The dismal prognosis for PDAC is largely due to its late diagnosis. Currently, the most sensitive diagnosis of PDAC requires invasive procedures, such as endoscopic ultrasonography, which has inherent risks and accuracy that is highly operator dependent. Here we took advantage of a general characteristic of solid tumors, the acidic microenvironment that is generated as a by-product of metabolism, to develop a novel approach of using pH (Low) Insertion Peptides (pHLIPs) for imaging of PDAC. We show that fluorescently labeled pHLIPs can localize and specifically detect PDAC in human xenografts as well as PDAC and PanIN lesions in genetically engineered mouse models. This novel approach may improve detection, differential diagnosis and staging of PDAC.
HPK1, a member of mammalian Ste20-like serine/threonine kinases, is lost in >95% pancreatic cancer through proteasome-mediated degradation. However, the mechanism of HPK1 loss has not been defined. The aims of this study are to identify the ubiquitin ligase and to examine the mechanisms that targets HPK1 degradation. We found that the CUL7/Fbxw8 ubiquitin ligase targeted HPK1 for degradation via the 26S proteasome. The ubiquitination of HPK1 required its kinase activity and autophosphorylation. Wild-type protein phosphatase 4 (PP4), but not the phosphatase-dead PP4 mutant, PP4-RL, inhibits the interaction of Fbxw8 with HPK1 and Fbxw8-mediated ubiquitination of HPK1. In addition, we showed that Thr355 of HPK1 is a key PP4 dephosphorylation site, through which CUL7/Fbxw8 ubiquitin ligase and PP4 regulates HPK1 stability. Knockdown of Fbxw8 restores endogenous HPK1 protein expression and inhibits cell proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells. Our study demonstrated that targeted degradation of HPK1 by the CUL7/Fbxw8 ubiquitin ligase constitutes a negative-feedback loop to restrain the activity of HPK1 and that CUL7/Fbxw8 ubiquitin ligase promotes pancreatic cancer cell proliferation. CUL7/Fbxw8 ubiquitin ligase-mediated HPK1 degradation revealed a direct link and novel role of CUL7/Fbxw8 ubiquitin ligase in the MAPK pathway, which plays a critical role in cell proliferation and differentiation.
Pancreatic stellate cells are source of dense fibrotic stroma, a constant pathological feature of chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic adenocarcinoma. We observed correlation between levels of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) and its product prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and the extent of pancreatic fibrosis. The aims of this study were to delineate the effects of PGE2 on immortalized human pancreatic stellate cells (HPSCs) and to identify the receptor involved.
New molecular targets and intervention strategies for breaking the obesity-pancreatic cancer link are urgently needed. Using relevant spontaneous and orthotopically transplanted murine models of pancreatic cancer, we tested the hypothesis that dietary energy balance modulation impacts pancreatic cancer development and progression through an insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I-dependent mechanism. In LSL-Kras(G12D)/Pdx-1-Cre/Ink4a/Arf(lox/+) mice, calorie restriction versus overweight- or obesity-inducing diet regimens decreased serum IGF-I, tumoral Akt/mTOR signaling, pancreatic desmoplasia, and progression to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), and increased pancreatic tumor-free survival. Serum IGF-I, Akt/mTOR signaling, and orthotopically transplanted PDAC growth were decreased in liver-specific IGF-I-deficient mice (vs. wild-type mice), and rescued with IGF-I infusion. Thus, dietary energy balance modulation impacts spontaneous pancreatic tumorigenesis induced by mutant Kras and Ink4a deficiency, the most common genetic alterations in human pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, IGF-I and components of its downstream signaling pathway are promising mechanistic targets for breaking the obesity-pancreatic cancer link.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) exists in a complex desmoplastic microenvironment, which includes cancer-associated fibroblasts [also known as pancreatic stellate cells (PSC)] and immune cells that provide a fibrotic niche that impedes successful cancer therapy. We have found that mast cells are essential for PDAC tumorigenesis. Whether mast cells contribute to the growth of PDAC and/or PSCs is unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that mast cells contribute to the growth of PSCs and tumor cells, thus contributing to PDAC development. Tumor cells promoted mast cell migration. Both tumor cells and PSCs stimulated mast cell activation. Conversely, mast cell-derived interleukin (IL)-13 and tryptase stimulated PSC proliferation. Treating tumor-bearing mice with agents that block mast cell migration and function depressed PDAC growth. Our findings suggest that mast cells exacerbate the cellular and extracellular dynamics of the tumor microenvironment found in PDAC. Therefore, targeting mast cells may inhibit stromal formation and improve therapy.
The exocrine pancreas is the organ with the highest level of protein synthesis in the adult--each day the pancreas produces litres of fluid filled with enzymes that are capable of breaking down nearly all organic substances. For optimal health, the pancreas must produce sufficient enzymes of the right character to match the dietary intake. Disruption of normal pancreatic function occurs primarily as a result of dysfunction of the acinar cells that produce these digestive enzymes, and can lead to acute or chronic diseases. For many years, the prevailing dogma has been that inappropriate intracellular activation of the digestive enzymes produced by acinar cells was the key to pancreatic inflammatory diseases, as digestive enzymes themselves are potentially harmful to the cells that secrete them. However, we now know that many stressors can affect pancreatic acinar cells, and that these stressors can independently trigger pancreatic pathology through various mechanisms. This Review focuses on protein synthesis and active digestive enzymes--two key stressors faced by the acinar cell that are likely to be the major drivers of pathology encountered in the pancreas.
Obesity is a risk factor for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), but it is not clear how obesity contributes to pancreatic carcinogenesis. The oncogenic form of KRAS is expressed during early stages of PDAC development and is detected in almost all of these tumors. However, there is evidence that mutant KRAS requires an additional stimulus to activate its full oncogenic activity and that this stimulus involves the inflammatory response. We investigated whether the inflammation induced by a high-fat diet, and the accompanying up-regulation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2), increases Kras activity during pancreatic carcinogenesis in mice.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is challenging to treat, and better means to detect and/or treat pancreatic cancer are urgently needed to save lives. Cathepsin E (Cath E) is a proteolytic enzyme highly expressed in PDAC. In this study, a novel approach using Cath E activation of a Cath E-specific prodrug was demonstrated. Specific activation of the prodrug is expected to kill pancreatic cancer cells without harming normal pancreatic cells. A novel 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) prodrug was custom-designed to be activated selectively by endogenous Cath E within the PDAC cells. The 5-ALA prodrug was incubated with Cath E-positive and -negative tumor cells and illuminated with various doses of light. In addition, mice genetically engineered to develop PDAC were injected intravenously with the 5-ALA prodrug, and the pancreas was treated with light irradiation. One day after treatment, PDAC tissue was assessed for apoptosis. The 5-ALA prodrug was activated within the Cath E-positive tumor but not in the normal pancreatic tissue. When used in combination with light treatment, it allowed delivery of selective photodynamic therapy (PDT) to the cancerous tissues, with minimal harm to the adjacent normal tissues. With this novel Cath E activation approach, it is possible to detect pancreatic cancer cells accurately and specifically impair their viability, while sparing normal cells. This treatment could result in fewer side effects than the non-specific treatments currently in use. Cath E is a specific and effective drug activator for PDAC treatment.
The Kras gene is mutated to an oncogenic form in most pancreatic tumors. However, early attempts to use this molecule as a specific biomarker of the disease, or inhibit its activity as a cancer therapy, failed. This left a situation in which everyone was aware of the association between this important oncogene and pancreatic cancer, but no one knew what to do about it. Recent findings have changed this picture-many assumptions made about KRAS and its role in pancreatic cancer were found to be incorrect. Several factors have contributed to increased understanding of the activities of KRAS, including creation of genetically engineered mouse models, which have allowed for detailed analyses of pancreatic carcinogenesis in an intact animal with a competent immune system. Cancer genome sequencing projects have increased our understanding of the heterogeneity of individual tumors. We also have a better understanding of which oncogenes are important for tumor maintenance and are therefore called "drivers." We review the advances and limitations of our knowledge about the role of Kras in development of pancreatic cancers and the important areas for future research.
Changes in the intracellular levels of the essential micronutrient zinc have been implicated in multiple diseases including pancreatic cancer; however, the molecular mechanism is poorly understood. Here, we report a novel mechanism where increased zinc mediated by the zinc importer ZIP4 transcriptionally induces miR-373 in pancreatic cancer to promote tumour growth. Reporter, expression and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrate that ZIP4 activates the zinc-dependent transcription factor CREB and requires this transcription factor to increase miR-373 expression through the regulation of its promoter. miR-373 induction is necessary for efficient ZIP4-dependent enhancement of cell proliferation, invasion, and tumour growth. Further analysis of miR-373 in vivo oncogenic function reveals that it is mediated through its negative regulation of TP53INP1, LATS2 and CD44. These results define a novel ZIP4-CREB-miR-373 signalling axis promoting pancreatic cancer growth, providing mechanistic insights explaining in part how a zinc transporter functions in cancer cells and may have broader implications as inappropriate regulation of intracellular zinc levels plays an important role in many other diseases.
We have previously shown that the antiallergic drug cromolyn blocks S100P interaction with its receptor receptor for advanced glycation end product (RAGE) and improves gemcitabine effectiveness in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, the concentration required to achieve its effectiveness was high (100 ?mol/L). In this study, we designed and synthesized analogs of cromolyn and analyzed their effectiveness compared with the parent molecule. An ELISA was used to confirm the binding of S100P with RAGE and to test the effectiveness of the different analogs. Analog 5-methyl cromolyn (C5OH) blocked S100P binding as well as the increases in NF-?B activity, cell growth, and apoptosis normally caused by S100P. In vivo C5OH systemic delivery reduced NF-?B activity to a greater extent than cromolyn and at 10 times lesser dose (50 mg vs. 5 mg). Treatment of mice-bearing syngeneic PDAC tumors showed that C5OH treatment reduced both tumor growth and metastasis. C5OH treatment of nude mice bearing orthotopic highly aggressive pancreatic Mpanc96 cells increased the overall animal survival. Therefore, the cromolyn analog, C5OH, was found to be more efficient and potent than cromolyn as a therapeutic for PDAC.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is highly malignant disease that is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the US. Gene therapy using AAV vectors to selectively deliver genes to PDAC cells is an attractive treatment option for pancreatic cancer. However, most AAV serotypes display a broad spectrum of tissue tropism and none of the existing serotypes specifically target PDAC cells. This study tests the hypothesis that AAV2 can be genetically re-engineered to specifically target PDAC cells by modifying the capsid surface to display a peptide that has previously been shown to bind plectin-1. Toward this end, a Plectin-1 Targeting Peptide (PTP) was inserted into the loop IV region of the AAV2 capsid, and the resulting capsid (AAV-PTP) was used in a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments. In vitro, AAV-PTP was found to target all five human PDAC cell lines tested (PANC-1, MIA PaCa-2, HPAC, MPanc-96, and BxPC-3) preferentially over two non-neoplastic human pancreatic cell lines (human pancreatic ductal epithelial and human pancreatic stellate cells). In vivo, mice bearing subcutaneous tumor xenografts were generated using the PANC-1 cell line. Once tumors reached a size of ?1-2?mm in diameter, the mice were injected intravenously with luciferase reporter vectors packaged in the either AAV-PTP or wild type AAV2 capsids. Luciferase expression was then monitored by bioluminescence imaging on days 3, 7, and 14 after vector injection. The results indicate that the AAV-PTP capsid displays a 37-fold preference for PANC-1 tumor xenographs over liver and other tissues; whereas the wild type AAV2 capsid displays a complementary preference for liver over tumors and other tissues. Together, these results establish proof-of-principle for the ability of PTP-modified AAV capsids to selectively target gene delivery to PDAC cells in vivo, which opens promising new avenues for the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Caveolin-1 (Cav-1), a principal structural component of caveolar membrane domains, contributes to cancer development but its precise functional roles and regulation remain unclear. In this study, we determined the oncogenic function of Cav-1 in preclinical models of pancreatic cancer and in human tissue specimens. Cav-1 expression levels correlated with metastatic potential and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in both mouse and human pancreatic cancer cells. Elevated levels in cells promoted EMT, migration, invasion, and metastasis in animal models, whereas RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown inhibited these processes. We determined that levels of Cav-1 and the Forkhead transcription factor FoxM1 correlated directly in pancreatic cancer cells and tumor tissues. Enforced expression of FoxM1 increased Cav-1 levels, whereas RNAi-mediated knockdown of FoxM1 had the opposite effect. FoxM1 directly bound to the promoter region of Cav-1 gene and positively transactivated its activity. Collectively, our findings defined Cav-1 as an important downstream oncogenic target of FoxM1, suggesting that dysregulated signaling of this novel FoxM1-Cav-1 pathway promotes pancreatic cancer development and progression.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the USA. Surgical resection is the only effective treatment; however, only 20% of patients are candidates for surgery. The ability to detect early PDAC would increase the availability of surgery and improve patient survival. This study assessed the feasibility of using the enzymatic activity of cathepsin E (Cath E), a protease highly and specifically expressed in PDAC, as a novel biomarker for the detection of pancreas-bearing pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions and PDAC.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the leading causes of cancer death. No effective therapy is currently available for PDAC because of the lack of understanding of the mechanisms leading to its growth and development. Inflammatory cells, particularly mast cells, have been shown to play key roles in some cancers. We carried out this study to test the hypothesis that mast cells in the tumor microenvironment are essential for PDAC tumorigenesis.
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the ability of imaging Cathepsin E (Cath E) positive tumors in living animals through selective targeting of Cath E proteolytic activity using a sensitive molecular imaging agent.
Trefoil factor 1 (TFF1) is a stable secretory protein expressed widely in the gastrointestinal mucosa that is also expressed in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In the current study, we documented the extent and timing of TFF1 expression and investigated the effects of TFF1 on PDAC cells and stellate cells, the primary cells of the PDAC stroma.
The specific characteristics of intracellular Ca 2+ signaling and the downstream consequences of these events were investigated in mouse pancreatic stellate cells (PSC) in culture and in situ using multiphoton microscopy in pancreatic lobules. PSC undergo a phenotypic transformation from a quiescent state to a myofibroblast-like phenotype in culture. This is believed to parallel the induction of an activated state observed in pancreatic disease such as chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. By day 7 in culture, the complement of cell surface receptors coupled to intracellular Ca 2+ signaling was shown to be markedly altered. Specifically, protease-activated receptors (PAR) 1 and 2, responsive to thrombin and trypsin, respectively, and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptors were expressed only in activated PSC (aPSC). PAR-1, ATP, and PDGF receptor activation resulted in prominent nuclear Ca 2+ signals. Nuclear Ca 2+ signals and aPSC proliferation were abolished by expression of parvalbumin targeted to the nucleus. In pancreatic lobules, PSC responded to agonists consistent with the presence of only quiescent PSC. aPSC were observed following induction of experimental pancreatitis. In contrast, in a mouse model of pancreatic disease harboring elevated K-Ras activity in acinar cells, aPSC were present under control conditions and their number greatly increased following induction of pancreatitis. These data are consistent with nuclear Ca 2+ signaling generated by agents such as trypsin and thrombin, likely present in the pancreas in disease states, resulting in proliferation of "primed" aPSC to contribute to the severity of pancreatic disease.
There have been conflicting results on a cell of origin in pancreatic regeneration. These discrepancies predominantly stem from lack of specific markers for the pancreatic precursors/stem cells, as well as differences in the targeted cells and severity of tissue injury in the experimental models so far proposed. We attempted to create a model that used diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) to ablate specific cell populations, control the extent of injury, and avoid induction of the inflammatory response.
Premature intra-acinar activation of trypsinogen is widely considered key for both the initiation of acute pancreatitis and the development of chronic pancreatitis. However, the biological consequences of intracellular trypsinogen activation have not been directly examined. To do so, a new mouse model was developed.
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is among the most resistant of human cancers, yet specific mechanisms of treatment resistance remain poorly understood. Models to study pancreatic cancer resistance remain limited and should reflect in vivo changes that occur within patient tumors. We sought to identify consistent, differentially expressed genes between treatment of naive pancreatic tumors and those exposed to neoadjuvant therapy using a strict, in vivo direct xenograft model system.
Advances in our molecular, clinical, and epidemiologic understanding of the risk and development of pancreatic cancer offer hope for preventing this disease, which is largely intractable once developed. This perspective on provocative, genetically engineered mouse model work reported by Mohammed et al. (beginning on page 1417 in this issue of the journal) examines the prospects for pancreatic cancer chemoprevention with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). Despite having limited value in advanced pancreatic cancer, EGFR TKIs show promise in the setting of early pancreatic carcinogenesis.
Prostaglandin E? (PGE?) levels are frequently elevated in colorectal carcinomas. PGE? is perceived via four transmembrane G protein coupled receptors (EP1-4), among which the EP4 receptor is most relevant. PGE?/EP4-receptor interaction activates CREB via the ERK/MEK pathway. However, the downstream target genes activated by this pathway remained to be investigated.
The receptor tyrosine kinase Axl has been reported to be overexpressed in a variety of human cancers. Although previous studies have identified the role of Axl in the transformation, proliferation, survival, and invasion in cancers, the expression and functions of Axl in pancreatic cancer have not been studied in detail.
Growth of exocrine pancreas is regulated by gastrointestinal hormones, notably cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK-driven pancreatic growth requires calcineurin (CN), which activates Nuclear Factor of Activated T cells (NFATs), but the genetic underpinnings and feedback mechanisms that regulate this response are not known.
Recent studies indicate a strong correlation of zinc transporter ZIP4 and pancreatic cancer progression; however, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We have recently found that ZIP4 is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer. In this study, we investigated the signaling pathway through which ZIP4 regulates pancreatic cancer growth.
S100P expression is described in many different cancers, and its expression is associated with drug resistance, metastasis, and poor clinical outcome. S100P is member of the S100 family of small calcium-binding proteins that have been reported to have either intracellular or extracellular functions, or both. Extracellular S100P can bind with the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) and activate cellular signaling. Through RAGE, S100P has been shown to mediate tumor growth, drug resistance, and metastasis. S100P is specifically expressed in cancer cells in the adult. Therefore, S100P is a useful marker for differentiating cancer cells from normal cells, and can aid in the diagnosis of cancer by cytological examination. The expression of S100P in cancer cells has been related to hypomethylation of the gene. Multiple studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of blocking S100P/RAGE in cancer cells, and different blockers are being developed including small molecules and antagonist peptides. This review summarizes the role and significance of S100P in different cancers.
Early diagnosis of pancreatic carcinoma with highly sensitive diagnostic imaging methods could save lives of many thousands of patients, because early detection increases resectability and survival rates. Current non-invasive diagnostic imaging techniques have inadequate resolution and sensitivity for detection of small size ( approximately 2-3 mm) early pancreatic carcinoma lesions. Therefore, we have assessed the efficacy of positron emission tomography and computer tomography (PET/CT) imaging with beta-O-D-galactopyranosyl-(1,4)-2-deoxy-2-[(18)F]fluoroethyl-D-glucopyranose ([(18)F]FEDL) for detection of less than 3 mm orthotopic xenografts of L3.6pl pancreatic carcinomas in mice. [(18)F]FEDL is a novel radioligand of hepatocarcinoma-intestine-pancreas/pancreatitis-associated protein (HIP/PAP), which is overexpressed in peritumoral pancreatic acinar cells.
Zinc levels have been correlated with cancer risk, although the role of zinc and zinc transporters in cancer progression is largely unknown. We recently found that a zinc transporter, ZIP4, is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer. In this study, we further deciphered the role that ZIP4 plays in a pancreatic cancer mouse model by silencing ZIP4.
A better understanding of drug resistance mechanisms is required to improve outcomes in patients with pancreatic cancer. Here, we characterized patterns of sensitivity and resistance to three conventional chemotherapeutic agents with divergent mechanisms of action [gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and cisplatin] in pancreatic cancer cells. Four (L3.6pl, BxPC-3, CFPAC-1, and SU86.86) were sensitive and five (PANC-1, Hs766T, AsPC-1, MIAPaCa-2, and MPanc96) were resistant to all three agents based on GI(50) (50% growth inhibition). Gene expression profiling and unsupervised hierarchical clustering revealed that the sensitive and resistant cells formed two distinct groups and differed in expression of specific genes, including several features of "epithelial to mesenchymal transition" (EMT). Interestingly, an inverse correlation between E-cadherin and its transcriptional suppressor, Zeb-1, was observed in the gene expression data and was confirmed by real-time PCR. Independent validation experiment using five new pancreatic cancer cell lines confirmed that an inverse correlation between E-cadherin and Zeb-1 correlated closely with resistance to gemcitabine, 5-FU, and cisplatin. Silencing Zeb-1 in the mesenchymal lines not only increased the expression of E-cadherin but also other epithelial markers, such as EVA1 and MAL2, and restored drug sensitivity. Importantly, immunohistochemical analysis of E-cadherin and Zeb-1 in primary tumors confirmed that expression of the two proteins was mutually exclusive (P = 0.012). Therefore, our results suggest that Zeb-1 and other regulators of EMT may maintain drug resistance in human pancreatic cancer cells, and therapeutic strategies to inhibit Zeb-1 and reverse EMT should be evaluated.
The relationship between chronic pancreatitis (CP) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is unclear. CP is a risk factor for PDAC, CP is found within the vicinity of PDAC, and both share many similar genetic alterations. However, it has been long thought that PDAC arises only from duct cells. However, we have recently found that excessive activity within the Ras signaling pathway can lead to acinar cell death or metaplasia and is associated with the development of fibrosis resembling CP and the development of PDAC from acinar cells through the full complement of preneoplastic (pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia) lesions. Therefore, it is time to reevaluate the relationship between CP and PDAC. We proposed a new model in which Ras activity is the direct link between these 2 diseases. Here we will briefly review the shared properties between CP and PDAC and describe the new model.
Adrenomedullin (AM) is highly expressed in pancreatic cancer and stimulates pancreatic cancer cells leading to increased tumor growth and metastasis. The current study examines the role of specific AM receptors on tumor and cells resembling the tumor microenvironment (human pancreatic stellate--HPSC, human umbilical vein-- HUVEC and mouse lung endothelial cells--MLEC).
Premature intracellular activation of the digestive enzyme trypsinogen is considered to be the initiating event in pancreatitis. However, the direct consequences of intracellular trypsin activity have not previously been examined. In the current study, a mutant trypsinogen (paired basic amino acid cleaving enzyme (PACE)-trypsinogen), which is activated intracellularly by the endogenous protease PACE, was developed. This new construct allowed for the first time direct examination of the effects of intracellular trypsin on pancreatic acinar cells. We found that PACE-trypsinogen was expressed in the secretory pathway and was activated within acinar cells. Expression of PACE-trypsinogen induced apoptosis of HEK293 cells and pancreatic acinar cells, as indicated by histology, DNA laddering, PARP cleavage, and caspase-3 activation. Cell death was blocked by the trypsin inhibitor Pefabloc but not by the pancaspase inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-VAD, indicating that caspase-independent pathways were also involved. However, intracellular trypsin had no significant effect on the activity of the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-kappaB. In contrast, extracellular trypsin caused cell damage and dramatically increased NF-kappaB activity. These data indicate that localization of active trypsin determines its effects on pancreatic acinar cells. This new model will greatly improve our understanding of the role of active trypsin in pancreatitis and its associated inflammatory response.
Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease characterized by late diagnosis and resistance to therapy. Much progress has been made in defining gene defects in pancreatic cancer, but a full accounting of its molecular pathogenesis remains to be provided. Here, we show that expression of the ataxia-telangiectasia group D complementing gene (ATDC), also called TRIM29, is elevated in most invasive pancreatic cancers and pancreatic cancer precursor lesions. ATDC promoted cancer cell proliferation in vitro and enhanced tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. ATDC expression correlated with elevated beta-catenin levels in pancreatic cancer, and beta-catenin function was required for ATDCs oncogenic effects. ATDC was found to stabilize beta-catenin via ATDC-induced effects on the Disheveled-2 protein, a negative regulator of glycogen synthase kinase 3beta in the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway.
Hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1) regulates stress responses, proliferation, and apoptosis in hematopoietic cells. In this study, we examined the expression, regulation, and functions of HPK1 in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDA). We found that loss of HPK1 protein expression correlated significantly with the progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (P = 0.001) and development of invasive PDA. Similarly, HPK1 protein was not expressed in any of eight PDA cell lines examined but was expressed in immortalized human pancreatic duct epithelial (HPDE) cells. There was no difference in HPK1 mRNA levels in PDA cell lines or primary PDA compared with those in HPDE cells or ductal epithelium in chronic pancreatitis and normal pancreas, respectively. Treatment of Panc-1 cells with a proteasome inhibitor, MG132, increased the HPK1 protein levels in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting that alteration in proteasome activity contributes to the loss of HPK1 protein expression in pancreatic cancer. Like the endogenous HPK1, both wild-type HPK1 and its kinase-dead mutant, HPK1-M46, overexpressed in Panc-1 cells, were also targeted by proteasome-mediated degradation. After MG132 withdrawal, wild-type HPK1 protein expression was markedly decreased within 24 hours, but kinase-dead HPK1 mutant protein expression was sustained for up to 96 hours. Therefore, HPK1 kinase activities were required for the loss of HPK1 protein in PDAs. Furthermore, restoring wild-type HPK1 protein in PDA cells led to the increase in p21 and p27 protein expression and cell cycle arrest. Thus, HPK1 may function as a novel tumor suppressor and its loss plays a critical role in pancreatic cancer.
Differentiated pancreatic acinar cells expressing endogenous levels of mutant K-Ras do not spontaneously develop pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, we hypothesized that acinar cells would develop PDAC in the presence of Ras activity levels mimicking those of human tumor cells.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths and is characterized by dismal prognosis. Xenograft and genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models have recapitulated critical elements of human pancreatic cancer, providing useful tools to probe the underlying cause of cancer etiology. In this review, we provide a brief description of the common genetic lesions that occur during the development of pancreatic cancer. Next, we describe the strengths and weaknesses of these two models and highlight key discoveries each has made. Although the relative merits of GEM and xenograft pancreatic cancer mouse models are subject to debate, both systems have and will continue to yield essential insights in understanding pancreatic cancer etiology. This information is critical for the development of new methods to screen, treat, and prevent pancreatic cancer.
Nuclear factor-?B (NF-?B) is activated during early stages of pancreatitis. This transcription factor regulates genes that control many cell activities, including inflammation and survival. There is evidence that activation of NF-?B protects against pancreatitis, and, in other cases, that it promotes this disease. We compared the effects of NF-?B in different mouse models of pancreatitis to understand these complications.
New-onset diabetes in patients with pancreatic cancer is likely to be a paraneoplastic phenomenon caused by tumor-secreted products. We aimed to identify the diabetogenic secretory product(s) of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer (PDAC) is a lethal disease with a five-year survival of 3-5%. Mutations in K-Ras are found in nearly all cases, but K-Ras mutations alone are not sufficient for the development of PDAC. Additional factors contribute to activation of Ras signaling and lead to tumor formation. Galectin-3 (Gal-3), a multifunctional ?-galactoside-binding protein, is highly expressed in PDAC. We therefore investigated the functional role of Gal-3 in pancreatic cancer progression and its relationship to Ras signaling. Expression of Gal-3 was determined by immunohistochemistry, Q-PCR and immunoblot. Functional studies were performed using pancreatic cell lines genetically engineered to express high or low levels of Gal-3. Ras activity was examined by Raf pull-down assays. Co-immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence were used to assess protein-protein interactions. In this study, we demonstrate that Gal-3 was highly up-regulated in human tumors and in a mutant K-Ras mouse model of PDAC. Down-regulation of Gal-3 by lentivirus shRNA decreased PDAC cell proliferation and invasion in vitro and reduced tumor volume and size in an orthotopic mouse model. Gal-3 bound Ras and maintained Ras activity; down-regulation of Gal-3 decreased Ras activity as well as Ras down-stream signaling including phosphorylation of ERK and AKT and Ral A activity. Transfection of Gal-3 cDNA into PDAC cells with low-level Gal-3 augmented Ras activity and its down-stream signaling. These results suggest that Gal-3 contributes to pancreatic cancer progression, in part, by binding Ras and activating Ras signaling. Gal-3 may therefore be a potential novel target for this deadly disease.
The Hedgehog (Hh) pathway has emerged as an important pathway in multiple tumor types and is thought to be dependent on a paracrine signaling mechanism. The purpose of this study was to determine the role of pancreatic cancer-associated fibroblasts (human pancreatic stellate cells, HPSCs) in Hh signaling. In addition, we evaluated the efficacy of a novel Hh antagonist, AZD8542, on tumor progression with an emphasis on the role of the stroma compartment.
At diagnosis, the majority of pancreatic cancer patients present with advanced disease when curative resection is no longer feasible and current therapeutic treatments are largely ineffective. An improved understanding of molecular targets for effective intervention of pancreatic cancer is thus urgent. The Met receptor tyrosine kinase is one candidate implicated in pancreatic cancer. Notably, Met is over expressed in up to 80% of invasive pancreatic cancers but not in normal ductal cells correlating with poor overall patient survival and increased recurrence rates following surgical resection. However the functional role of Met signaling in pancreatic cancer remains poorly understood. Here we used RNA interference to directly examine the pathobiological importance of increased Met signaling for pancreatic cancer. We show that Met knockdown in pancreatic tumor cells results in decreased cell survival, cell invasion, and migration on collagen I in vitro. Using an orthotopic model for pancreatic cancer, we provide in vivo evidence that Met knockdown reduced tumor burden correlating with decreased cell survival and tumor angiogenesis, with minimal effect on cell growth. Notably, we report that Met signaling regulates the secretion of the pro-angiogenic chemokine interleukin-8/CXCL8. Our data showing that the interleukin-8 receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2 are not expressed on pancreatic tumor cells, suggests a paracrine mechanism by which Met signaling regulates interleukin-8 secretion to remodel the tumor microenvironment, a novel finding that could have important clinical implications for improving the effectiveness of treatments for pancreatic cancer.
The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) contributes to multiple pathologies, including diabetes, arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. Despite the obvious need, no RAGE inhibitors are in common clinical use. Therefore, we developed a novel small RAGE antagonist peptide (RAP) that blocks activation by multiple ligands.
Cell division cycle 20 (CDC20) homolog is an anaphase-promoting complex activator that is essential for cell division, but whether its expression in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is significant is unknown. In this retrospective study, we determined whether aberrant CDC20 expression can be used as a biomarker in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) tumorigenesis and whether its expression reflects clinical progression.
Genetic mutations that give rise to active mutant forms of Ras are oncogenic and found in several types of tumor. However, such mutations are not clear biomarkers for disease, since they are frequently detected in healthy individuals. Instead, it has become clear that elevated levels of Ras activity are critical for Ras-induced tumorigenesis. However, the mechanisms underlying the production of pathological levels of Ras activity are unclear. Here, we show that in the presence of oncogenic Ras, inflammatory stimuli initiate a positive feedback loop involving NF-?B that further amplifies Ras activity to pathological levels. Stimulation of Ras signaling by typical inflammatory stimuli was transient and had no long-term sequelae in wild-type mice. In contrast, these stimuli generated prolonged Ras signaling and led to chronic inflammation and precancerous pancreatic lesions (PanINs) in mice expressing physiological levels of oncogenic K-Ras. These effects of inflammatory stimuli were disrupted by deletion of inhibitor of NF-?B kinase 2 (IKK2) or inhibition of Cox-2. Likewise, expression of active IKK2 or Cox-2 or treatment with LPS generated chronic inflammation and PanINs only in mice expressing oncogenic K-Ras. The data support the hypothesis that in the presence of oncogenic Ras, inflammatory stimuli trigger an NF-?B-mediated positive feedback mechanism involving Cox-2 that amplifies Ras activity to pathological levels. Because a large proportion of the adult human population possesses Ras mutations in tissues including colon, pancreas, and lung, disruption of this positive feedback loop may be an important strategy for cancer prevention.
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