Objectives: A functional vacuolar adenosine triphosphatase (v-ATPase) complex regulates canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling. The goal of this study was to identify the distribution of the v-ATPase in human and murine models of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms (PanINs) and assess its role in Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
Methods: We evaluated the immunolabeling pattern of the v-ATPase in human PanIN specimens and murine PanIN-1 and PanIN-2 lesions obtained from Ptf1a(Cre/+); LSL-Kras(G12D) mice. Wnt/β-catenin signaling was interrogated in primary PanIN cells by examining the phosphorylated levels of its surface coreceptor, low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein-6 (LRP6), and its intracellular effector, nonphosphorylated β-catenin. The response of primary PanIN cells to epidermal growth factor (EGF) was assessed in the absence and presence of the v-ATPase inhibitor, concanamycin.
Results: In advanced (PanIN-2), but not early (PanIN-1), lesions, the v-ATPase assumed a polarized phenotype. Blocking the v-ATPase disrupted Wnt/β-catenin signaling in primary PanIN cells despite significantly higher levels of the total and activated Wnt cell surface coreceptor, LRP6. Vacuolar adenosine triphosphatase blockade significantly decreased the total and activated levels of EGF receptor, a determinant of PanIN progression. The activation of EGF receptor and its intracellular mediator, p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase, was also reduced by v-ATPase blockade. This led to diminished proliferation in response to EGF ligand.
Conclusions: The v-ATPase regulates Wnt/β-catenin and EGF receptor signaling in PanINs.