Pancreatic cancer cells resistance to gemcitabine: The role of MUC4 mucin

S. Bafna, S. Kaur, N. Momi, S. K. Batra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background: A major obstacle to the successful management of pancreatic cancer is to acquire resistance to the existing chemotherapeutic agents. Resistance to gemcitabine, the standard first-line chemotherapeutic agent for advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer, is mainly attributed to an altered apoptotic threshold in the pancreatic cancer. The MUC4 transmembrane glycoprotein is aberrantly overexpressed in the pancreatic cancer and recently, has been shown to increase pancreatic tumour cell growth by the inhibition of apoptosis. Methods: Effect of MUC4 on pancreatic cancer cells resistance to gemcitabine was studied in MUC4-expressing and MUC4-knocked down pancreatic cancer cell lines after treatment with gemcitabine by Annexin-V staining, DNA fragmentation assay, assessment of mitochondrial cytochrome c release, immunoblotting and co-immunoprecipitation techniques. Results: Annexin-V staining and DNA fragmentation experiment demonstrated that MUC4 protects CD18/HPAF pancreatic cancer cells from gemcitabine-induced apoptosis. In concert with these results, MUC4 also attenuated mitochondrial cytochrome c release and the activation of caspase-9. Further, our results showed that MUC4 exerts anti-apoptotic function through HER2/extracellular signal-regulated kinase-dependent phosphorylation and inactivation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bad. Conclusion: Our results elucidate the function of MUC4 in imparting resistance to pancreatic cancer cells against gemcitabine through the activation of anti-apoptotic pathways and, thereby, promoting cell survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1155-1161
Number of pages7
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009


  • Chemotherapy
  • MUC4
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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