Mutations in p53 and RAS potently cooperate in oncogenic transformation, and correspondingly, these genetic alterations frequently coexist in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) and other human cancers. Previously, we identified a set of genes synergistically activated by combined RAS and p53 mutations as frequent downstream mediators of tumorigenesis. Here, we show that the synergistically activated gene Plac8 is critical for pancreatic cancer growth. Silencing of Plac8 in cell lines suppresses tumor formation by blocking autophagy, a process essential for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in PDA, and genetic inactivation in an engineered mouse model inhibits PDA progression. We show that Plac8 is a critical regulator of the autophagic machinery, localizing to the lysosomal compartment and facilitating lysosome-autophagosome fusion. Plac8 thus provides a mechanistic link between primary oncogenic mutations and the induction of autophagy, a central mechanism of metabolic reprogramming, during PDA progression.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.