Secretory Mucin 5AC Promotes Neoplastic Progression by Augmenting KLF4-Mediated Pancreatic Cancer Cell Stemness

Koelina Ganguly, Shiv Ram Krishn, Satyanarayana Rachagani, Rahat Jahan, Ashu Shah, Palanisamy Nallasamy, Sanchita Rauth, Pranita Atri, Jesse L. Cox, Ramesh Pothuraju, Lynette M. Smith, Sudhua Ayala, Christopher Evans, Moorthy P. Ponnusamy, Sushil Kumar, Sukhwinder Kaur, Surinder K. Batra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Secreted mucin 5AC (MUC5AC) is the most abundantly over-expressed member of the mucin family during early pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia stage I (PanIN-I) of pancreatic cancer. To comprehend the contribution of Muc5ac in pancreatic cancer pathology, we genetically ablated it in an autochthonous murine model (KrasG12D; Pdx-1cre, KC), which mirrors the early stages of pancreatic cancer development. Neoplastic onset and the PanIN lesion progression were significantly delayed in Muc5ac knockout (KrasG12D; Pdx-1 cre; Muc5ac-/-, KCM) animals with a 50% reduction in PanIN-2 and 70% reduction in PanIN-3 lesions compared with KC at 50 weeks of age. High-throughput RNA-sequencing analysis from pancreatic tissues of KCM animals revealed a significant decrease in cancer stem cell (CSC) markers Aldh1a1, Klf4, EpCAM, and CD133. Furthermore, the silencing of MUC5AC in human pancreatic cancer cells reduced their tumorigenic propensity, as indicated by a significant decline in tumor formation frequency by limiting dilution assay upon subcutaneous administration. The contribution of MUC5AC in CSC maintenance was corroborated by a significant decrease in tumor burden upon orthotopic implantation of MUC5AC-depleted pancreatic cancer cells. Mechanistically, MUC5AC potentiated oncogenic signaling through integrin avb5, pSrc (Y416), and pSTAT3 (Y705). Phosphorylated STAT3, in turn, upregulated Klf4 expression, thereby enriching the self-renewing CSC population. A strong positive correlation of Muc5ac with Klf4 and pSTAT3 in the PanIN lesions of KC mouse pancreas reinforces the crucial involvement of MUC5AC in bolstering the CSC-associated tumorigenic properties of Kras-induced metaplastic cells, which leads to pancreatic cancer onset and progression. Significance: This study elucidates that de novo expression of MUC5AC promotes cancer cell stemness during Kras-driven pancreatic tumorigenesis and can be targeted for development of a novel therapeutic regimen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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