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Cancer Res. 2006 Sep 15;66(18):9045-53.

Aberrant expression of a disintegrin and metalloproteinase 17/tumor necrosis factor-alpha converting enzyme increases the malignant potential in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Medicine II, Mannheim Medical Faculty, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


A disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) molecules are known for their unique potential to combine adhesion, proteolysis, and signaling. To understand the role of ADAM17/tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) converting enzyme (TACE) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), we investigated its expression, function, and in vitro regulation. ADAM17/TACE mRNA was expressed in 3 of 10 normal pancreatic tissues, 6 of 8 samples from patients with chronic pancreatitis, 10 of 10 PDAC tissues, and 9 of 9 pancreatic cancer cell lines, but it was absent in primary duct epithelial cells. Immunohistochemical staining revealed positive cancer cells in 8 of 10 PDACs but no staining of ducts in normal pancreas. ADAM17/TACE was found in 0 of 16 pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN)-1A lesions, 1 of 30 PanIN-1B lesions, 2 of 13 PanIN-2 lesions but, in 13 of 15 PanIN-3 lesions, associated with PDAC. Western blot, flow cytometry, and confocal microscopy analyses showed the aberrant expression of ADAM17/TACE protein in pancreatic cancer cell lines. The proteolytic activity of ADAM17/TACE, assessed by the release of TNF-alpha, was inhibited by TNF-alpha protease inhibitor. ADAM17/TACE gene silencing using small interfering RNA technique in vitro reduced invasion behavior dramatically, whereas proliferation was unaffected. Furthermore, ADAM17/TACE mRNA expression was down-regulated in pancreatic cancer cells arrested in G2-M phase as well as in a time-dependent manner after TNF-alpha and interleukin-6 incubation. In conclusion, our findings provide evidence of aberrant expression of the proteolytically active ADAM17/TACE in advanced precursor lesions (PanIN-3) and PDAC while identifying its critical involvement in the invasion process.

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