SDF-1α upregulation of MMP-2 is mediated by p38 MAPK signaling in pancreatic cancer cell lines

Feng Pan, Shijie Ma, Weike Cao, Haining Liu, Fengli Chen, Xiaofei Chen, Ruihua Shi
Molecular Biology Reports 2013, 40 (7): 4139-46
Pancreatic cancer is highly invasive and is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer death worldwide. CXC chemokine receptor-4 (CXCR4) is a G protein-coupled receptor for CXC chemokine ligand 12/stromal cell-derived factor-1α (SDF-1α), a member of a large family of small, structurally related, heparin-binding chemokine proteins. SDF-1α/CXCR4 plays an important role in tumor growth, invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis. SDF-1α and CXCR4 are upregulated in many tumors, including pancreatic cancer tissues, and preliminary data indicate that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis plays an important role in tumor invasion. However, their precise role and the mechanism through which they function remain largely unknown. In this study, analysis of SDF-1α, CXCR4 and MMP-2 expression in pancreatic cancer and adjacent tissue samples from ten patients revealed that all three proteins are overexpressed in human pancreatic cancer. SDF-1α induced MMP-2 and MMP-9 upregulation in PANC-1 and SW-1990 cells, which was associated with increased pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and invasion. Furthermore, SDF-1α induced p38 phosphorylation and p38 inhibition reduced both the level of SDF-1α-stimulated MMP-2 expression and PANC-1 cell invasion. Overall, our results demonstrate that SDF-1α/CXCR4 upregulates MMP-2 expression and induces pancreatic cancer cell invasion in PANC-1 and SW-1990 cell lines by activating p38 MAPK.

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