Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) shows the worst mortality among the common malignancies and development of novel therapies for PDAC through identification of good molecular targets is an urgent issue. Among dozens of over-expressing genes identified through our gene-expression profile analysis of PDAC cells, we here report CST6 (Cystatin 6 or E/M) as a candidate of molecular targets for PDAC treatment. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemical analysis confirmed over-expression of CST6 in PDAC cells, but no or limited expression of CST6 was observed in normal pancreas and other vital organs. Knock-down of endogenous CST6 expression by small interfering RNA attenuated PDAC cell growth, suggesting its essential role in maintaining viability of PDAC cells. Concordantly, constitutive expression of CST6 in CST6-null cells promoted their growth in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the addition of mature recombinant CST6 in culture medium also promoted cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner, whereas recombinant CST6 lacking its proteinase-inhibitor domain and its non-glycosylated form did not. Over-expression of CST6 inhibited the intracellular activity of cathepsin B, which is one of the putative substrates of CST6 proteinase inhibitor and can intracellularly function as a pro-apoptotic factor. These findings imply that CST6 is likely to involve in the proliferation and survival of pancreatic cancer probably through its proteinase inhibitory activity, and it is a promising molecular target for development of new therapeutic strategies for PDAC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research