Background: Trop2 is a cell-surface glycoprotein overexpressed by a variety of epithelial carcinomas with reported low to restricted expression in normal tissues. Expression of Trop2 has been associated with increased tumor aggressiveness, metastasis and decreased patient survival, but the signaling mechanisms mediated by Trop2 are still unknown. Here, we studied the effects murine Trop2 (mTrop2) exerted on tumor cellular functions and some of the signaling mechanisms activated by this oncogene.
Results: mTrop2 expression significantly increased tumor cell proliferation at low serum concentration, migration, foci formation and anchorage-independent growth. These in vitro characteristics translated to increased tumor growth in both subcutaneous and orthotopic pancreatic cancer murine models and also led to increased liver metastasis. mTrop2 expression also increased the levels of phosphorylated ERK1/2 mediating cell cycle progression by increasing the levels of cyclin D1 and cyclin E as well as downregulating p27. The activation of ERK was also observed in human pancreatic ductal epithelial cells and colorectal adenocarcinoma cells overexpressing human Trop2.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate some of the pathogenic effects mediated by mTrop2 expression on cancer cells and the importance of targeting this cell surface glycoprotein. This study also provides the first indication of a molecular signaling pathway activated by Trop2 which has important implications for cancer cell growth and survival.