Secreted semaphorin 5A suppressed pancreatic tumour burden but increased metastasis and endothelial cell proliferation

Br J Cancer. 2012 Jul 24;107(3):501-7. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.298. Epub 2012 Jul 10.


Background: Our earlier reports demonstrated that membrane-bound semaphorin 5A (SEMA5A) is expressed in aggressive pancreatic cancer cells and tumours, and promotes tumour growth and metastasis. In this study, we examine whether (1) pancreatic cancer cells secrete SEMA5A and (2) that secreted SEMA5A modulates certain phenotypes associated with tumour progression, angiogenesis and metastasis through various other molecular factors and signalling proteins.

Methods and results: In this study, we show that human pancreatic cancer cell lines secrete the extracellular domain (ECD) of SEMA5A (SEMA5A-ECD) and overexpression of mouse Sema5A-ECD in Panc1 cells (not expressing SEMA5A; Panc1-Sema5A-ECD; control cells - Panc1-control) significantly increases their invasion in vitro via enhanced ERK phosphorylation. Interestingly, orthotopic injection of Panc1-Sema5A-ECD cells into athymic nude mice results in a lower primary tumour burden, but enhances the micrometastases to the liver as compared with Panc1-control cells. Furthermore, there is a significant increase in proliferation of endothelial cells treated with conditioned media (CM) from Panc1-Sema5A-ECD cells and a significant increase in microvessel density in Panc1-Sema5A-ECD orthotopic tumours compared with those from Panc1-control cells, suggesting that the increase in liver micrometastases is probably due to increased tumour angiogenesis. In addition, our data demonstrate that this increase in endothelial cell proliferation by Sema5A-ECD is mediated through the angiogenic molecules - interleukin-8 and vascular endothelial growth factor.

Conclusion: Taken together, these results suggest that a bioactive, secreted form of Sema5A-ECD has an intriguing and potentially important role in its ability to enhance pancreatic tumour invasiveness, angiogenesis and micrometastases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Growth Processes / physiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / genetics
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / genetics
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Micrometastasis
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Phosphorylation / genetics
  • Semaphorins
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents
  • Interleukin-8
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SEMA5A protein, human
  • Semaphorins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases