BICC1 drives pancreatic cancer progression by inducing VEGF-independent angiogenesis

Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2023 Jul 14;8(1):271. doi: 10.1038/s41392-023-01478-5.


VEGF inhibitors are one of the most successful antiangiogenic drugs in the treatment of many solid tumors. Nevertheless, pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAAD) cells can reinstate tumor angiogenesis via activation of VEGF-independent pathways, thereby conferring resistance to VEGF inhibitors. Bioinformatic analysis showed that BICC1 was one of the top genes involved in the specific angiogenesis process of PAAD. The analysis of our own cohort confirmed that BICC1 was overexpressed in human PAAD tissues and was correlated to increased microvessel density and tumor growth, and worse prognosis. In cells and mice with xenograft tumors, BICC1 facilitated angiogenesis in pancreatic cancer in a VEGF-independent manner. Mechanistically, as an RNA binding protein, BICC1 bounds to the 3'UTR of Lipocalin-2 (LCN2) mRNA and post-transcriptionally up-regulated LCN2 expression in PAAD cells. When its level is elevated, LCN2 binds to its receptor 24p3R, which directly phosphorylates JAK2 and activates JAK2/STAT3 signal, leading to increased production of an angiogenic factor CXCL1. Blocking of the BICC1/LCN2 signalling reduced the microvessel density and tumor volume of PAAD cell grafts in mice, and increased the tumor suppressive effect of gemcitabine. In conclusion, BICC1 plays a pivotal role in the process of VEGF-independent angiogenesis in pancreatic cancer, leading to resistance to VEGF inhibitors. BICC1/LCN2 signaling may serve as a promising anti-angiogenic therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • RNA-Binding Proteins