Plexin-B3 regulates cellular motility, invasiveness, and metastasis in pancreatic cancer

Sugandha Saxena, Dipakkumar R. Prajapati, Paran Goel, Babita Tomar, Yuri Hayashi, Pranita Atri, Satyanarayana Rachagani, Paul M. Grandgenett, Michael A. Hollingsworth, Surinder K. Batra, Rakesh K. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Plexins family of proteins are well-characterized transmembrane receptors of semaphorins, axon guidance cue molecules, that mediate the cell attraction or repelling effects for such cues. Plexins and their ligands are involved in numerous cellular activities, such as motility, invasion, and adhesion to the basement membrane. The detachment of cells and the gain in motility and invasion are hallmarks of the cancer metastasis cascade, thus generating interest in exploring the role of plexins in cancer metastasis. Semaphorin–plexin complexes can act as tumor promoters or suppressors, depending upon the cancer type, and are under investigation for therapeutic purposes. Our group has identified Semaphorin-5A (SEMA5A)/Plexin-B3 as an attractive targetable complex for pancreatic cancer (PC) metastasis. However, our understanding of the Plexin-B3 function and pathological expression in PC is limited, and our present study delineates the role of Plexin-B3 in PC malignancy. We examined the pathological expression of Plexin-B3 in PC tumors and metastasis using a human tissue microarray, disease progression model of PDX-Cre-Kras(G12D) (KC) mice, and different metastatic sites obtained from the KrasG12D; Trp53R172H; Pdx1-Cre (KPC) mice model. We observed a higher Plexin-B3 expression in PC tumor cores than the normal pancreas, and different metastatic sites were positive for Plexin-B3 expression. However, in the KC mice model, the Plexin-B3 expression increased initially and then decreased with the disease progression. Next, to evaluate the functional role of Plexin-B3, we utilized T3M-4-and CD18/HPAF-Control and-Plexin B3 knockdown cells for different in vivo and in vitro studies. The knockdown of Plexin-B3 enhanced the in vitro cellular migration, invasiveness, and impaired colony formation in three-dimensional culture, along with an increase in cellular spread and remodeling of the actin filaments. We also observed a higher metastasis in nude mice injected with T3M-4-and CD18/HPAF-shPlexin-B3 cells compared to their respective control cells. Furthermore, we observed a lower number of proliferating Ki-67-positive cells and higher ALDH1-A1-positive cells in the tumors formed by Plexin-B3 knockdown cells compared to tumors formed by the control cells. Together, our data suggest that the loss of Plexin-B3 is associated with the interference of cell division machinery and the induction of stem cell-like characteristics in PC cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number818
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Cancer stem cells
  • Cellular motility
  • Metastasis
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Plexin-B3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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