IER3 supports KRASG12D-dependent pancreatic cancer development by sustaining ERK1/2 phosphorylation.
ABSTRACT: Activating mutations in the KRAS oncogene are prevalent in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We previously demonstrated that pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) formation, which precedes malignant transformation, associates with the expression of immediate early response 3 (Ier3) as part of a prooncogenic transcriptional pathway. Here, we evaluated the role of IER3 in PanIN formation and PDAC development. In human pancreatic cancer cells, IER3 expression efficiently sustained ERK1/2 phosphorylation by inhibiting phosphatase PP2A activity. Moreover, IER3 enhanced KrasG12D-dependent oncogenesis in the pancreas, as both PanIN and PDAC development were delayed in IER3-deficient KrasG12D mice. IER3 expression was discrete in healthy acinar cells, becoming highly prominent in peritumoral acini, and particularly high in acinar ductal metaplasia (ADM) and PanIN lesions, where IER3 colocalized with phosphorylated ERK1/2. However, IER3 was absent in undifferentiated PDAC, which suggests that the IER3-dependent pathway is an early event in pancreatic tumorigenesis. IER3 expression was induced by both mild and severe pancreatitis, which promoted PanIN formation and progression to PDAC in KrasG12D mice. In IER3-deficient mice, pancreatitis abolished KrasG12D-induced proliferation, which suggests that pancreatitis enhances the oncogenic effect of KRAS through induction of IER3 expression. Together, our data indicate that IER3 supports KRASG12D-associated oncogenesis in the pancreas by sustaining ERK1/2 phosphorylation via phosphatase PP2A inhibition.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Activating mutations in KRAS are detected in most pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs). Expression of an activated form of KRAS (KrasG12D) in pancreata of mice is sufficient to induce formation of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs)-a precursor of PDAC. Pancreatitis increases formation of PanINs in mice that express KrasG12D by promoting acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM). We investigated the role of the transcription factor Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5) in ADM and KRAS-mediated formation of PanINs. METHODS:We performed studies in adult mice with conditional disruption of Klf5 (Klf5fl/fl) and/or expression of KrasG12D (LSL-KrasG12D) via CreERTM recombinase regulated by an acinar cell-specific promoter (Ptf1a). Activation of KrasG12D and loss of KLF5 was achieved by administration of tamoxifen. Pancreatitis was induced in mice by administration of cerulein; pancreatic tissues were collected, analyzed by histology and immunohistochemistry, and transcriptomes were compared between mice that did or did not express KLF5. We performed immunohistochemical analyses of human tissue microarrays, comparing levels of KLF5 among 96 human samples of PDAC. UN-KC-6141 cells (pancreatic cancer cells derived from Pdx1-Cre;LSL-KrasG12D mice) were incubated with inhibitors of different kinases and analyzed in proliferation assays and by immunoblots. Expression of KLF5 was knocked down with small hairpin RNAs or CRISPR/Cas9 strategies; cells were analyzed in proliferation and gene expression assays, and compared with cells expressing control vectors. Cells were subcutaneously injected into flanks of syngeneic mice and tumor growth was assessed. RESULTS:Of the 96 PDAC samples analyzed, 73% were positive for KLF5 (defined as nuclear staining in more than 5% of tumor cells). Pancreata from Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice contained ADM and PanIN lesions, which contained high levels of nuclear KLF5 within these structures. In contrast, Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice formed fewer PanINs. After cerulein administration, Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice formed more extensive ADM than Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice. Pancreata from Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice had increased expression of the tumor suppressor NDRG2 and reduced phosphorylation (activation) of STAT3, compared with Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice. In UN-KC-6141 cells, PI3K and MEK signaling increased expression of KLF5; a high level of KLF5 increased proliferation. Cells with knockdown of Klf5 had reduced proliferation, compared with control cells, had reduced expression of ductal markers, and formed smaller tumors (71.61 ± 30.79 mm3 vs 121.44 ± 34.90 mm3 from control cells) in flanks of mice. CONCLUSION:Levels of KLF5 are increased in human PDAC samples and in PanINs of Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice, compared with controls. KLF5 disruption increases expression of NDRG2 and reduces activation of STAT3 and reduces ADM and PanINs formation in mice. Strategies to reduce KLF5 activity might reduce progression of acinar cells from ADM to PanIN and pancreatic tumorigenesis.
Project description:The objective of this study was to elucidate the role of Nupr1 in pancreatic tumorigenesis. Using the Pdx-1-cre;LSL-KrasG12D mouse as model we discovered that, in contrast to KrasG12D pancreas that develop multiple foci of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN), KrasG12D;Nupr1KO pancreas were free from such lesions, indicating that Nupr1 is pivotal for PanIN formation. In vitro, MiaPaCa2 cells activated Nupr1 expression in response to nutrient deprivation and this expression was necessary for cell survival. Mechanistically, Nupr1 protected cells from stress-induced death by inhibiting apoptosis through an alternative RelBàIER3-dependent pathway and independent from activation of the classical RelA-based NF-kB pathway. In agreement with these findings, Nupr1, RelB and IER3 proteins were found co-expressed in PanINs from KrasG12D pancreas. Moreover, pancreas-specific KrasG12D;RelbDpanc mice displayed a delay in PanIN development associated with a lack of IER3 expression, further emphasizing the relevance of this pathway in vivo. Efficient PanIN formation was therefore dependent on the expression of Nupr1 and RelB, with the probable involvement of IER3. Finally, a significant correlation between expression of Nupr1, RelB and IER3 and a poor prognosis of patients with PDAC was found. Altogether, our results reveal a novel stress-related pathway that requires the functional interaction of Nupr1àRelBàIER3 in KrasG12D-dependent transformation of the pancreas and expand our understanding of the molecular machinery that mediates the early steps of pancreatic carcinogenesis. Since Nupr1 belongs to the HMG family of chromatin remodelers with transcriptional co-factor activity, Nupr1 could increase cell survival in a nutrient-deprived microenvironment by activating the expression of pro-survival genes. Moreover, considering that RelB, and not RelA/p65, is essential to the Nupr1-mediated survival mechanism that takes place upon nutrient deprivation-induced stress, we made the hypothesis that the two NF-kB transcription factors should activate different sets of genes among which a pivotal pro-survival gene would be exclusively dependent on RelB. In order to test this two hypothesis, an Affymetrix microarray analysis was performed using pancreatic cancer cells transfected with siCtrl or siNupr1 and cultured for 3, 6 or 9 hrs in EBSS; or transfected with siRelB, siRelA/p65 or siCtrl and cultured for 9 hrs in EBSS or Mock.
Project description:Caerulein-induced acute pancreatitis accelerates the progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions in a pancreas-specific KrasG12D mouse model. The purpose of this study was to explore whether serum microRNAs (miRNAs) can serve as sensitive biomarkers to detect occult PanIN in the setting of acute pancreatitis. Serum miRNA profiles were quantified by an array-based method and normalized by both Variance Stabilization Normalization (VSN) and invariant methods. Individual miRNAs were validated by TaqMan real-time PCR with synthetic spike-in C. elegans miRNAs as external controls. Serum miRNA profiles distinguished KrasG12D mice with pancreatitis from wild-type mice without pancreatitis, but failed to differentiate KrasG12D mice with pancreatitis from wild-type mice with pancreatitis. Most individual miRNAs that increased in KrasG12D mice with pancreatitis were not significantly different between KrasG12D mice without pancreatitis and wild-type mice without pancreatitis. Mechanistically, Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) of the mRNA array data and immunohistochemical assays showed that caerulein-induced acute pancreatitis involved acinar cell loss and immune cell infiltration, which might contribute to serum miRNA profile changes. This study highlighted the challenges in using sensitive serum miRNA biomarker screening for the early detection of pancreatic malignancies during acute pancreatitis.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Identification and validation of new functionally relevant and pharmacologically actionable targets for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains a great challenge. Premalignant acinar cell reprogramming (acinar-to-ductal metaplasia [ADM]) is a precursor of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions that can progress to PDAC. This study investigated the role of proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (PYK2) in mutant Kras-induced and pancreatitis-associated ADM and PanIN formation, as well as in PDAC maintenance. METHODS:Genetically engineered mouse models of mutant Kras (glycine 12 to aspartic acid) and Pyk2 deletion were used for investigating the role of PYK2 in PDAC genesis in mice. In vitro ADM assays were conducted using primary pancreatic acinar cells isolated from mice. Immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and a series of biochemical experiments were used to investigate upstream regulators/downstream targets of PYK2 in pancreatic carcinogenesis. PDAC cell line xenograft experiments were performed to study the role of PYK2 and its downstream target in PDAC maintenance. RESULTS:PYK2 was increased substantially in ADM lesions induced by mutant Kras or inflammatory injury. Pyk2 deletion remarkably suppressed ADM and PanIN formation in a mutant Kras-driven and pancreatitis-associated PDAC model, whereas PYK2 knockdown substantially inhibited PDAC cell growth in vitro and in nude mice. This study uncovered a novel yes-associated protein 1/transcriptional co-activator with PDZ binding motif/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3/PYK2/?-catenin regulation axis in PDAC. Our results suggest that PYK2 contributes to PDAC genesis and maintenance by activating the Wnt/?-catenin pathway through directly phosphorylating ?-cateninY654. CONCLUSIONS:The current study uncovers PYK2 as a novel downstream effector of mutant KRAS signaling, a previously unrecognized mediator of pancreatitis-induced ADM and a novel intervention target for PDAC.
Project description:Kras signaling via mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is highly up-regulated in pancreatic cancer cells. We investigated whether MAPK signaling is required for the initiation and maintenance of pancreatic carcinogenesis in mice.We studied the formation and maintenance of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs) in p48Cre; TetO-KrasG12D; Rosa26(rtTa-IRES-EGFP) (iKras*) mice and LSL-KrasG12D mice bred with p48Cre mice (KC). Mice were given oral PD325901, a small-molecule inhibitor of MEK1 and MEK2 (factors in the MAPK signaling pathway), along with injections of cerulein to induce pancreatitis. Other mice were given PD325901 only after PanINs developed. Pancreatic tissues were collected and evaluated using histologic, immunohistochemical, immunofluorescence, and electron microscopy analyses. Acinar cells were isolated from the tissues and the effects of MEK1 and 2 inhibitors were assessed.PD325901 prevented PanIN formation, but not pancreatitis, in iKras* and KC mice. In iKras* or KC mice given PD325901 at 5 weeks after PanINs developed, PanINs regressed and acinar tissue regenerated. The regression occurred through differentiation of the PanIN cells to acini, accompanied by re-expression of the acinar transcription factor Mist1.In iKras* and KC mice, MAPK signaling is required for the initiation and maintenance of pancreatic cancer precursor lesions. MAPK signaling promotes formation of PanINs by enabling dedifferentiation of acinar cells into duct-like cells that are susceptible to transformation.
Project description:Pancreatitis is the most important risk factor for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Pancreatitis predisposes to PDAC because it induces a process of acinar cell reprogramming known as acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM)-a precursor of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia lesions that can progress to PDAC. Mutations in KRAS are found at the earliest stages of pancreatic tumorigenesis, and it appears to be a gatekeeper to cancer progression. We investigated how mutations in KRAS cooperate with pancreatitis to promote pancreatic cancer progression in mice.We generated mice carrying conditional alleles of Yap1 and Taz and disrupted Yap1 and Taz using a Cre-lox recombination strategy in adult mouse pancreatic acinar cells (Yap1fl/fl;Tazfl/fl;Ela1-CreERT2). We crossed these mice with LSL-KrasG12D mice, which express a constitutively active form of KRAS after Cre recombination. Pancreatic tumor initiation and progression were analyzed after chemically induced pancreatitis. We analyzed pancreatic tissues from patients with pancreatitis or PDAC by immunohistochemistry.Oncogenic activation of KRAS in normal, untransformed acinar cells in the pancreatic tissues of mice resulted in increased levels of pancreatitis-induced ADM. Expression of the constitutive active form of KRAS in this system led to activation of the transcriptional regulators YAP1 and TAZ; their function was required for pancreatitis-induced ADM in mice. The JAK-STAT3 pathway was a downstream effector of KRAS signaling via YAP1 and TAZ. YAP1 and TAZ directly mediated transcriptional activation of several genes in the JAK-STAT3 signaling pathway; this could be a mechanism by which acinar cells that express activated KRAS become susceptible to inflammation.We identified a mechanism by which oncogenic KRAS facilitates ADM and thereby generates the cells that initiate neoplastic progression. This process involves activation of YAP1 and TAZ in acinar cells, which up-regulate JAK-STAT3 signaling to promote development of PDAC in mice.
Project description:To determine the molecular basis of gene regulation in pancreatic ductal epithelial cells, we developed methods for the isolation of this cell population during mouse development and normal adult homeostasis, as well as in conditions with ductal features (acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM), pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC)). Our technique utilizes the specificity of Dolichos biflorus Agglutinin (DBA) lectin marking the entire normal ductal tree, including terminal intercalated ducts (putative sites of stem or progenitor cells) and ductal structures in ADM and PanIN. We used ferromagnetic-labeled DBA lectin to isolate ductal structures. Ductal cells were isolated under the following conditions: (1) Embryonic Development in wild type mice: E14.5, E15.5, E16.5, and postnatal day 1 (P1); (2) Injury and regeneration (pancreatitis) 0, 1, 3, 5 days following cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis. Cerulein is a cholecystokinin analog which produces a self-limited pancreatitis with injury and subsequent regeneration and repair, completed five days after insult; and (3) Pdx1-Cre;LSL-KrasG12D/+ mice aged 10 and 20 weeks that harbor PanIN lesions and a subset develop PDAC. Ductal/PanIN cells were isolated from these mice and appropriate control mice (Pdx1-Cre;Kras+/+). Overall design: Expression profiling of ductal cells at embryonic days 14.5, 15.5, 16.5 and post-natal day 1 as well as days 0, 1, 3 and 5 after acute ceruelin-induced pancreatitis and 10/20 weeks aged Pdx1-Cre;LSL-KrasG12D/+ mice.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Invasive pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is thought to originate from duct-like lesions called pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). PanINs progress from low grade (PanIN-1) to high grade (PanIN-3) as the cells attain molecular alterations to key regulatory genes, including activating mutations in the KRAS protooncogene. Despite a well-documented progression model, our knowledge of the initiator cells of PanINs and the transcriptional networks and signaling pathways that impact PanIN formation remains incomplete. METHODS:In this study, we examined the importance of the acinar-restricted transcription factor Mist1 to KrasG12D-induced mouse PanIN (mPanIN) formation in 3 different mouse models of pancreatic cancer. RESULTS:In the absence of Mist1 (Mist1KO), KrasG12D-expressing mice exhibited severe exocrine pancreatic defects that were rescued by ectopic expression of Mist1 in acinar cells. mPanIN development was greatly accelerated in Mist1KO/KrasG12D/+ pancreata, and in vitro assays revealed that Mist1KO acinar cells were predisposed to convert to a ductal phenotype and activate epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and Notch-signaling pathways. CONCLUSIONS:We propose that convergence of EGFR, Notch, and Kras pathways in acinar cells lacking Mist1 leads to enhanced mPanIN formation.
Project description:Despite expression of oncogenic KRAS, premalignant pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia 1 (PanIN1) lesions rarely become fully malignant pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The molecular mechanisms through which established risk factors, such as chronic pancreatitis, acinar cell damage, and/or defective autophagy increase the likelihood of PDAC development are poorly understood. We show that accumulation of the autophagy substrate p62/SQSTM1 in stressed KrasG12D acinar cells is associated with PDAC development and maintenance of malignancy in human cells and mice. p62 accumulation promotes neoplastic progression by controlling the NRF2-mediated induction of MDM2, which acts through p53-dependent and -independent mechanisms to abrogate checkpoints that prevent conversion of differentiated acinar cells to proliferative ductal progenitors. MDM2 targeting may be useful for preventing PDAC development in high-risk individuals.