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Oncogene. 2007 Nov 8;26(51):7251-61. Epub 2007 May 21.

IFN-gamma-induced expression of MUC4 in pancreatic cancer cells is mediated by STAT-1 upregulation: a novel mechanism for IFN-gamma response.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA.


MUC4 is a transmembrane mucin, which is aberrantly expressed in pancreatic adenocarcinoma with no detectable expression in the normal pancreas. Here, we present a novel mechanism of IFN-gamma-induced expression of MUC4 in pancreatic cancer cells. Our studies highlight the upregulation of STAT-1 as a basis for MUC4 induction and demonstrate that its activation and upregulation by IFN-gamma are two distinct, albeit temporally integrated, signalling events that drive the selective induction of IRF-1 and MUC4, respectively, within a single cell system. The profile of interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1 gene induction by IFN-gamma is consistent with its rapid transactivation by phospho-Y701-STAT-1. In contrast, the induction of the MUC4 mucin gene expression is relatively delayed, and occurs only in response to an increase in STAT-1 expression. A progressive binding of STAT-1 to various gamma-interferon-activated sequences (GAS) in the MUC4 promoter is observed in chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, indicating its direct association. Stimulation of STAT-1 expression by double-stranded polynucleotides or ectopic expression is shown to induce MUC4 expression, without Y701 phosphorylation of STAT-1. This effect is abrogated by short interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated inhibition of STAT-1 expression, supporting further the relevance of STAT-1 in MUC4 regulation. In conclusion, our findings identify a novel mechanism for MUC4 regulation in pancreatic cancer cells and unfold new perspectives on the foundation of IFN-gamma-dependent gene regulation.

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