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Br J Cancer. 2006 May 8;94(9):1311-9.

The alpha2beta1 integrin mediates the malignant phenotype on type I collagen in pancreatic cancer cell lines.

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Department of Surgery (112-E), University of California, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, 3350 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 92161, USA.


Pancreatic cancer is characterised by a hallmark desmoplastic response that includes upregulated expression of the extracellular matrix, and type I collagen in particular. Recent studies indicate that pancreatic cancer cells stimulate type I collagen synthesis in adjacent stellate cells, and that this upregulated type I collagen expression promotes the malignant phenotype in tumour cells as defined by increased proliferation, resistance to chemically induced apoptosis, and increased tumorigenesis. The integrin specificity of this interaction between type I collagen and tumour cells was not identified, however. In the present study, we examined eight pancreatic cancer cell lines for adhesion, proliferation, and migration, on types I and IV collagen, fibronectin, laminin, and vitronectin, as well as integrin expression. Our results indicate, for the overwhelming majority of cell lines, that type I collagen promotes the strongest adhesion, proliferation, and migration relative to the other substrates tested. Utilising function-blocking monoclonal antibodies directed against particular integrin subunits in cell adhesion and migration inhibition assays, we demonstrate further that the malignant phenotype on type I collagen is mediated specifically by the alpha2beta1 integrin. These results identify alpha2beta1 integrin-mediated adhesion to type I collagen as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

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