Background: Podoplanin, a mucin-like transmembrane glycoprotein, is reportedly expressed in a variety of malignant cells and is generally regarded as a factor for promoting tumor progression in conventional studies. By contrast, a clinicopathologically conflicting role for podoplanin, namely as a favorable prognostic factor for patients with lung/cervical squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), has recently been reported. Here, we investigated the role of podoplanin expressed in lung squamoid cancer cells (LSCCs) in experimental tumor progression.Results: Using EBC-1 cells, a lung SCC cell line without podoplanin expression and with lymphogenous metastatic potential, stable transformants with or without an exogenous human podoplanin gene were established and applied to a mouse tumor implantation model. In vivo examinations revealed that exogenous podoplanin had no influence on tumor growth, whereas it significantly restrained axillary lymph node metastasis associated with the suppression of lymphangiogenesis but not angiogenesis and with the downregulation of EBC-1-derived VEGF-C but not other lymphangiogenesis-related factor mRNAs in implanted tumor tissue. In vitro examinations to clarify the mechanisms underlying the in vivo phenomena revealed that exogenous podoplanin significantly suppressed the expression of VEGF-C mRNA and of the protein, and also increased the level of phosphorylated c-jun N terminal kinase (JNK) in EBC-1 cells. The former effect of exogenous podoplanin was impaired by treatment with either JNK inhibitor sp600125 or podoplanin-siRNA, and the latter effect was impaired by treatment with podoplanin-siRNA, suggesting that podoplanin was able to activate JNK, thereby downregulating VEGF-C gene expression in LSCCs (podoplanin-JNK-VEGF-C axis). Furthermore, supporting evidence in regard to the axis present in LSCCs was obtained from similar experiments using H157 cells, another lung SCC cell line expressing endogenous podoplanin.Conclusions: Our findings suggested that LSCC-associated podoplanin was functional and could attenuate the potential for lymph node metastasis, possibly based on the suppression of tumor lymphangiogenesis; thus, podoplanin in cancer cells may become a useful biomarker to measure the malignancy of lung SCC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes