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Dissecting the MUC5AC/ANXA2 signaling axis: implications for brain metastasis in lung adenocarcinoma.

Non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) exhibits a heightened propensity for brain metastasis, posing a significant clinical challenge. Mucin 5ac (MUC5AC) plays a pivotal role in the development of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD); however, its role in causing brain metastases remains unknown. In this study, we aimed to investigate the contribution of MUC5AC to brain metastasis in patients with LUAD utilizing various brain metastasis models. Our findings revealed a substantial increase in the MUC5AC level in LUAD brain metastases (LUAD-BrM) samples and brain-tropic cell lines compared to primary samples or parental control cell lines. Intriguingly, depletion of MUC5AC in brain-tropic cells led to significant reductions in intracranial metastasis and tumor growth, and improved survival following intracardiac injection, in contrast to the observations in the control groups. Proteomic analysis revealed that mechanistically, MUC5AC depletion resulted in decreased expression of metastasis-associated molecules. There were increases in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, tumor invasiveness, and metastasis phenotypes in tumors with high MUC5AC expression. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation and proteomic analysis revealed a novel interaction of MUC5AC with Annexin A2 (ANXA2), which activated downstream matrix metalloproteases and facilitated extracellular matrix degradation to promote metastasis. Disrupting MUC5AC-ANXA2 signaling with a peptide inhibitor effectively abrogated the metastatic process. Additionally, treatment of tumor cells with an astrocyte-conditioned medium or the chemokine CCL2 resulted in upregulation of MUC5AC expression and enhanced brain colonization. In summary, our study demonstrates that the MUC5AC/ANXA2 signaling axis promotes brain metastasis, suggesting a potential therapeutic paradigm for LUAD patients with high MUC5AC expression.

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