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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Aug;1760(8):1217-25. Epub 2006 Apr 7.

The greatly increased amounts of accumulated versican and decorin with specific post-translational modifications may be closely associated with the malignant phenotype of pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cell Proliferation and Ageing, Institute of Biology, NCSR Demokritos, 15310 Athens, Greece.


Pancreatic carcinoma (PC) is a cancer type with highly malignant growth and dissemination pattern of which the mechanisms are poorly understood. However, the malignant phenotype is closely linked to extracellular matrix (ECM) of which proteoglycans (PGs) and hyaluronan (HA) play a crucial role in the control of tumor progression and metastasis. In this study, we demonstrated that versican and decorin, two different PGs with contradictory roles and functions in the pathobiology of cancer, were the main matrix PGs in PC presenting a great increase 27- and 7-fold, respectively, in comparison to normal pancreas (NP). PC was characterized by the disproportional increase of versican compared to decorin, about 4 to 1, with a concurrent increase of HA, which may be closely associated with the growth and aggressiveness of this carcinoma. Significant specific post-translational modifications were also observed in both versican and decorin regarding the type, hydrodynamic size, sulfation pattern and extent of uronate epimerization of their glycosaminoglycan chains (GAGs). In particular, chondroitin sulphate (CS) was the predominant GAG type in both PC-associated versican and decorin. The CS of PC-decorin was increased 11-fold, compared to NP in which dermatan sulfate (DS) was the predominant GAG type in both PGs. The sulfation pattern of GAG chains was significantly altered in PC, since 6-sulfated disaccharides predominated in both versican and decorin with a marked presence of non-sulfated disaccharides accompanied by lower hydrodynamic sizes of both CS and DS chains compared to NP. In conclusion, all these findings agree with the highly malignant phenotype of this cancer and, thus, more studies need to be addressed on the roles of the post-translational modifications of versican and decorin in the biology of cancer.

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