Extensive desmoplasia is a prominent pathological characteristic of pancreatic cancer (PC) that not only impacts tumor development, but therapeutic outcome as well. Recently, we demonstrated a novel role of MYB, an oncogenic transcription factor, in PC growth and metastasis. Here we studied its effect on pancreatic tumor histopathology and associated molecular and biological mechanisms. Tumor-xenografts derived from orthotopic-inoculation of MYB-overexpressing PC cells exhibited far-greater desmoplasia in histological analyses compared with those derived from MYB-silenced PC cells. These findings were further confirmed by immunostaining of tumor-xenograft sections with collagen-I, fibronectin (major extracellular-matrix proteins), and α-SMA (well-characterized marker of myofibroblasts or activated pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs)). Likewise, MYB-overexpressing PC cells provided significantly greater growth benefit to PSCs in a co-culture system as compared with the MYB-silenced cells. Interrogation of deep-sequencing data from MYB-overexpressing versus -silenced PC cells identified Sonic-hedgehog (SHH) and Adrenomedullin (ADM) as two differentially-expressed genes among others, which encode for secretory ligands involved in tumor-stromal cross-talk. In-silico analyses predicted putative MYB-binding sites in SHH and ADM promoters, which was later confirmed by chromatin-immunoprecipitation. A cooperative role of SHH and ADM in growth promotion of PSCs was confirmed in co-culture by using their specific-inhibitors and exogenous recombinant-proteins. Importantly, while SHH acted exclusively in a paracrine fashion on PSCs and influenced the growth of PC cells only indirectly, ADM could directly impact the growth of both PC cells and PSCs. In summary, we identified MYB as novel regulator of pancreatic tumor desmoplasia, which is suggestive of its diverse roles in PC pathobiology.
Keywords: ADM; MYB; desmoplasia; gene regulation; pancreatic cancer; sonic hedgehog (SHH); transcription factor; tumor microenvironment.
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.