In pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR-1) IIIb isoform correlates with the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion, whereas FGFR-1 IIIc enhances cancer cell proliferation. The FGFR-2 IIIb isoform is expressed in PDAC, and its expression correlates with increased venous invasion. We examined the role of FGFR-2 IIIc in PDAC. FGFR-2 IIIc was expressed in all six pancreatic cancer cell lines examined and was highest in PANC-1 cells. FGFR-2 IIIc was abundant in the cancer cells from 83 of 117 PDAC cases, which correlated with decreased duration to development of liver metastasis after surgery. FGFR-2 IIIc-transfected cells exhibited increased proliferation in vitro and formed larger subcutaneous and orthotopic tumors, the latter producing more liver metastases. Moreover, FGF-2 exerted a more rapid stimulatory effect on the levels of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (p-ERK) in FGFR-2 IIIc stably transfected PANC-1 cells, compared with control cells. FGFR-2 IIIc-transfected cells also formed more spheres and contained more side population cells. Suppression of FGFR-2 IIIc expression inhibited the proliferation of PANC-1 cells, whereas an anti-FGFR-2 IIIc antibody inhibited the proliferation and migration of PANC-1 cells. Thus, high FGFR-2 IIIc levels in PDAC contribute to disease aggressiveness and confer to pancreatic cancer cells features suggestive of cancer stem cells, indicating that FGFR-2 IIIc may be a novel and important therapeutic target in PDAC.
Copyright © 2012 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.