Acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM) is a precursor lesion of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC); however, the regulators of the ADM-mediated PDAC development and its targeting are poorly understood. RNA polymerase II-associated factor 1 (PAF1) maintains cancer stem cells leading to the aggressiveness of PDAC. In this study, we investigated whether PAF1 is required for the YAP1-mediated PDAC development and whether CA3 and verteporfin, small molecule inhibitors of YAP1/TEAD transcriptional activity, diminish pancreatic cancer (PC) cell growth by targeting the PAF1/YAP1 axis. Here, we demonstrated that PAF1 co-expresses and interacts with YAP1 specifically in metaplastic ducts of mouse cerulein- or KrasG12D-induced ADM and human PDAC but not in the normal pancreas. PAF1 knockdown (KD) reduced SOX9 in PC cells, and the PC cells showed elevated PAF1/YAP1 complex recruitment to the promoter of SOX9. The PAF1 KD reduced the 8xTEAD and SOX9 promoter-luciferase reporter activities in the mouse KC (KrasG12D; Pdx-1 Cre) cells and human PC cells, indicating that the PAF1 is required for the YAP1-mediated development of ADM and PC. Moreover, treatment with CA3 or verteporfin reduced the expressions of PAF1, YAP1, TEAD4, and SOX9 and decreased colony formation and stemness in KC and PC cells. CA3 treatment also reduced the viability and proliferation of PC cells and diminished the duct-like structures in KC acinar explants. CA3 or verteporfin treatment decreased the recruitment of the PAF1/YAP1 complex to the SOX9 promoter in PC cells and reduced the 8xTEAD and SOX9 promoter-luciferase reporter activities in KC and PC cells. Overall, PAF1 cooperates with YAP1 during ADM and PC development, and verteporfin and CA3 inhibit ADM and PC cell growth by targeting the PAF1/YAP1/SOX9 axis in vitro and ex vivo models. This study identified a regulatory axis of PDAC initiation and its targeting, paving the way for developing targeted therapeutic strategies for pancreatic cancer patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research