Truncated O-Glycan-Bearing MUC16 Enhances Pancreatic Cancer Cells Aggressiveness via α4β1 Integrin Complexes and FAK Signaling

Christabelle Rajesh, Satish Sagar, Ashok Kumar Rathinavel, Divya Thomas Chemparathy, Xianlu Laura Peng, Jen Jen Yeh, Michael A. Hollingsworth, Prakash Radhakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Elevated levels of Mucin-16 (MUC16) in conjunction with a high expression of truncated O-glycans is implicated in playing crucial roles in the malignancy of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, the mechanisms by which such aberrant glycoforms present on MUC16 itself promote an increased disease burden in PDAC are yet to be elucidated. This study demonstrates that the CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic deletion of MUC16 in PDAC cells decreases tumor cell migration. We found that MUC16 enhances tumor malignancy by activating the integrin-linked kinase and focal adhesion kinase (ILK/FAK)-signaling axis. These findings are especially noteworthy in truncated O-glycan (Tn and STn antigen)-expressing PDAC cells. Activation of these oncogenic-signaling pathways resulted in part from interactions between MUC16 and integrin complexes (α4β1), which showed a stronger association with aberrant glycoforms of MUC16. Using a monoclonal antibody to functionally hinder MUC16 significantly reduced the migratory cascades in our model. Together, these findings suggest that truncated O-glycan containing MUC16 exacerbates malignancy in PDAC by activating FAK signaling through specific interactions with α4 and β1 integrin complexes on cancer cell membranes. Targeting these aberrant glycoforms of MUC16 can aid in the development of a novel platform to study and treat metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5459
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • FAK
  • MUC16
  • integrins
  • migration
  • pancreatic cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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