P-Cadherin/CDH3 belongs to the family of classic cadherins that are engaged in various cellular activities including motility, invasion, and signaling of tumor cells, in addition to cell adhesion. However, the biological roles of P-cadherin itself are not fully characterized. Based on information derived from a previous genome-wide cDNA microarray analysis of microdissected pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), we focused on P-cadherin as one of the genes most strongly overexpressed in the great majority of PDACs. To investigate the consequences of overexpression of P-cadherin in terms of pancreatic carcinogenesis and tumor progression, we used a P-cadherin-deficient PDAC cell line, Panc-1, to construct a cell line (Panc1-CDH3) that stably overexpressed P-cadherin. Induction of P-cadherin in Panc1-CBH3 increased the motility of the cancer cells, but a blocking antibody against P-cadherin suppressed the motility in vitro. Overexpression of P-cadherin was strongly associated with cytoplasmic accumulation of one of the catenins, p120ctn, and cadherin switching in PDAC cells. Moreover, P-cadherin-dependent activation of cell motility was associated with activation of Rho GTPases, Rac1 and Cdc42, through accumulation of p120ctn in cytoplasm and cadherin switching. These findings suggest that overexpression of P-cadherin is likely to be related to the biological aggressiveness of PDACs; blocking of P-cadherin activity or its associated signaling could be a novel therapeutic approach for treatment of aggressive pancreatic cancers.
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