Numerous studies have established the association of MUC4 with the progression of cancer and metastasis. An aberrant expression of MUC4 is reported in precancerous lesions, indicating its early involvement in the disease process; however, its precise role in cellular transformation has not been explored. MUC4 contains many unique domains and is proposed to affect cell signaling pathways and behavior of the tumor cells. In the present study, to decipher the oncogenic potential of MUC4, we stably expressed the MUC4 mucin in NIH3T3 mouse fibroblast cells. Stable ectopic expression of MUC4 resulted in increased growth, colony formation, and motility of NIH3T3 cells in vitro and tumor formation in nude mice when cells were injected s.c. Microarray analysis showed increased expression of several growth-associated and mitochondrial energy production-associated genes in MUC4-expressing NIH3T3 cells. In addition, expression of MUC4 in NIH3T3 cells resulted in enhanced levels of oncoprotein ErbB2 and its phosphorylated form (pY1248-ErbB2). In conclusion, our studies provide the first evidence that MUC4 alone induces cellular transformation and indicates a novel role of MUC4 in cancer biology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research