Overexpressed galectin-3 in pancreatic cancer induces cell proliferation and invasion by binding ras and activating ras signaling

Shumei Song, Baoan Ji, Vijaya Ramachandran, Huamin Wang, Margarete Hafley, Craig Logsdon, Robert S. Bresalier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


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 β-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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere42699
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 10 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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