PRMT1 promotes pancreatic cancer growth and predicts poor prognosis

Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2020 Feb;43(1):51-62. doi: 10.1007/s13402-019-00435-1. Epub 2019 Sep 13.


Background: Protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) is the founding member of the PRMT family of proteins, whose members catalyze methylation of arginine residues in various proteins. Although several studies have reported upregulation of PRMT1 in various cancer types, the expression pattern and the underlying mechanism of PRMT1 action in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are still unclear.

Methods: Immunohistochemistry staining as well as RT-PCR was used to determine the expression pattern of PRMT1 in clinical PDAC samples. Lentivirus packaging and transfection were employed to construct cell lines with PRMT1 overexpression or knockdown. MTT and crystal violet assays were used to determine the proliferation rates of PDAC cells. β-catenin transcription activity was measured using a TOPFlash assay. PRMT1 binding to the promoter region of CTNNB1 was determined by ChIP-qPCR assay.

Results: Elevated PRMT1 expression was found in PDAC tissue samples compared to noncancerous normal tissues in 41 patients using a real-time PCR assay and in 90 patients using a tissue microarray (TMA) in conjunction with immunohistochemistry. Analysis of the PRMT1 expression data and PDAC clinical features revealed that PRMT1 expression was significantly correlated with PDAC tumor size and prognosis in postoperative patients. Additional functional experiments revealed that PRMT1 expression promoted the growth of pancreatic cancer-derived cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, we found that PRMT1 increased the cellular β-catenin level. We also found that PRMT1 and β-catenin were co-expressed in TCGA and GTEx datasets containing 370 samples.

Conclusions: Collectively, our study provides novel insight into the expression and function of PRMT1 in PDAC and indicates that PRMT1 may serve as a therapeutic target for treating patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Keywords: PRMT1; Pancreatic cancer; Prognosis; Proliferation; β-catenin.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics*
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Repressor Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • PRMT1 protein, human
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases