MUC4 mucin potentiates pancreatic tumor cell proliferation, survival, and invasive properties and interferes with its interaction to extracellular matrix proteins.


MUC4, a transmembrane mucin, is aberrantly expressed in pancreatic adenocarcinomas while remaining undetectable in the normal pancreas. Recent studies have shown that the expression of MUC4 is associated with the progression of pancreatic cancer and is inversely correlated with the prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients. In the present study, we have examined the phenotypic and molecular consequences of MUC4 silencing with an aim of establishing the mechanistic basis for its observed role in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer. The silencing of MUC4 expression was achieved by stable expression of a MUC4-specific short hairpin RNA in CD18/HPAF, a highly metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line. A significant decrease in MUC4 expression was detected in MUC4-knockdown (CD18/HPAF-siMUC4) cells compared with the parental and scrambled short interfering RNA-transfected (CD18/HPAF-Scr) control cells by immunoblot analysis and immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. Consistent with our previous observation, inhibition of MUC4 expression restrained the pancreatic tumor cell growth and metastasis as shown in an orthotopic mouse model. Our in vitro studies revealed that MUC4-associated increase in tumor cell growth resulted from both the enhanced proliferation and reduced cell death. Furthermore, MUC4 expression was also associated with significantly increased invasiveness (P < or = 0.05) and changes in actin organization. The presence of MUC4 on the cell surface was shown to interfere with the tumor cell-extracellular matrix interactions, in part, by inhibiting the integrin-mediated cell adhesion. An altered expression of growth- and metastasis-associated genes (LI-cadherin, CEACAM6, RAC1, AnnexinA1, thrombomodulin, epiregulin, S100A4, TP53, TP53BP, caspase-2, caspase-3, caspase-7, plakoglobin, and neuregulin-2) was also observed as a consequence of the silencing of MUC4. In conclusion, our study provides experimental evidence that supports the functional significance of MUC4 in pancreatic cancer progression and indicates a novel role for MUC4 in cancer cell signaling.

  • Batra SK
  • Chakraborty S
  • Chaturvedi P
  • Meza JL
  • Moniaux N
  • Senapati S
  • Singh AP
PubMed ID
Appears In
Mol Cancer Res, 2007, 5 (4)