Overexpression of Semaphorin-3E enhances pancreatic cancer cell growth and associates with poor patient survival

Oncotarget. 2016 Dec 27;7(52):87431-87448. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.13704.


Semaphorin-3E (Sema3E) is a member of an axon guidance gene family, and has recently been reported to contribute to tumor progression and metastasis. However, its role in pancreatic cancer is yet unknown and uncharacterized. In this study, we showed that Sema3E is overexpressed in human pancreatic cancer, and that high Sema3E levels are associated with tumor progression and poor survival. Interestingly, we also observed Sema3E expression in the nucleus, even though Sema3E is reported to be a secreted protein. Overexpression of Sema3E in pancreatic cancer cells promoted cell proliferation and migration in vitro, and increased tumor incidence and growth in vivo. Conversely, knockout of Sema3E suppressed cancer cell proliferation and migration in vitro, and reduced tumor incidence and size in vivo. Moreover, Sema3E induced cell proliferation via acting through the MAPK/ERK pathway. Collectively, these results reveal an undiscovered role of Sema3E in promoting pancreatic cancer pathogenesis, suggesting that Sema3E may be a suitable prognostic marker and therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer.

Keywords: pancreatic cancer; semaphorin 3E.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology
  • Mice
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Semaphorins / analysis
  • Semaphorins / physiology*


  • SEMA3E protein, human
  • Semaphorins
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases