High levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), which is produced by stromal, endothelial, and cancer cells and has multiple complex effects on cancers, correlate with poor cancer prognosis. To more definitively study the role of endogenously produced PAI-1 in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAC) PANC-1 cell line biology, we used anti-PAI-1 shRNA to create stable PAI-1 deficient cells (PD-PANC-1s). PD-PANC-1s exhibited a heterogeneous morphology. While the majority of cells exhibited a cuboidal shape similar to the parental PANC-1 or the vector-infected control cells, numerous large cells with long filopodia and a neuronal-like appearance were observed. Although both Vector-control cells and PD-PANC-1s expressed mRNAs that are characteristic of mesenchymal, neural, and epithelial phenotypes, epithelial marker RNAs were up-regulated (e.g., E-cadherin, 32-fold) whereas mesenchymal marker RNAs were down-regulated (e.g., Thy1, ninefold) in PD-PANC-1s, suggesting mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition. Neural markers exhibited both up- and down-regulation. Immunocytochemistry indicated that epithelial-like PD-PANC-1s expressed E-cadherin and β-catenin in significantly more cells, while neural-like cells exhibited robust expression of organized β-3-tubulin. PAI-1 and E-cadherin were rarely co-expressed in the same cells. Indeed, examination of PAI-1 and E-cadherin mRNAs expression in additional cell lines yielded clear inverse correlation. Indeed, infection of Colo357 PAC cells (that exhibit high expression of E-cadherin) with PAI-1-expressing adenovirus led to a marked decrease in E-cadherin expression and to enhanced migration of cells from clusters. Our results suggest that endogenous PAI-1 suppresses expression of E-cadherin and differentiation in PAC cells in vitro, supporting its negative impact on tumor prognosis.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.