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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)