Journal Article

DJ-1 promotes invasion and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells by activating SRC/ERK/uPA

Xiangyi He, Zhong Zheng, Jianfang Li, Qiwen Ben, Jun Liu, Jianian Zhang, Jun Ji, Beiqin Yu, Xuehua Chen, Liping Su, Lin Zhou, Bingya Liu and Yaozong Yuan

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 33, issue 3, pages 555-562
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
DJ-1 promotes invasion and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells by activating SRC/ERK/uPA

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A major hallmark of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is extensive local tumor invasion and early systemic dissemination. DJ-1 has been shown to prevent cell death via the Akt pathway, thereby playing an important role in cancer progression and Parkinson’s disease development. Here, we investigated the role of DJ-1 in tumor invasion and metastasis of pancreatic cancer and showed that DJ-1 is upregulated in 68.5% of pancreatic cancer specimens, correlated with tumor stage and predictive of short overall survival. Knockdown of DJ-1 expression in two PDAC cell lines reduced cell migration and invasion potential in vitro and inhibited metastasis in vivo. Knockdown of DJ-1 led to cytoskeleton disruption and diminished urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) activity and expression, without affecting plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and uPA receptor (uPAR) expression. All these effects were reversed by restoration of DJ-1 expression. In determining the pathway through which DJ-1 regulated cell migration and invasion, DJ-1 was found not to regulate Akt phosphorylation. Rather, it promoted extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and SRC phosphorylation. Inhibition of the ERK pathway in PDAC mimicked the effects of DJ-1 on cell migration, invasion, actin cytoskeleton and uPA/uPAR system and abolished the effects on promoting PDAC cell invasion and migration. These data represent the first identification of an important function of DJ-1, which is to regulate the invasion and metastasis properties of PDAC through the ERK/uPA cascade.

Journal Article.  5275 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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