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Mol Med. 2008 Sep-Oct;14(9-10):582-9. doi: 10.2119/2008-00020.Ni.

The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway mediates gelsolin protein downregulation in pancreatic cancer.

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Department of Endoscopy, Cancer Institute and Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.


A well-known observation with respect to cancer biology is that transformed cells display a disturbed cytoskeleton. The underlying mechanisms, however, remain only partly understood. In an effort to identify possible mechanisms, we compared the proteome of pancreatic cancer with matched normal pancreas and observed diminished protein levels of gelsolin--an actin filament severing and capping protein of crucial importance for maintaining cytoskeletal integrity--in pancreatic cancer. Additionally, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas displayed substantially decreased levels of gelsolin as judged by Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses of tissue micoarrays, when compared with cancerous and untransformed tissue from the same patients (P < 0.05). Importantly, no marked downregulation of gelsolin mRNA was observed (P > 0.05), suggesting that post-transcriptional mechanisms mediate low gelsolin protein levels. In apparent agreement, high activity ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in both patient samples and the BxPC-3 pancreatic cancer cell line was detected, and inhibition of the 26s proteasome system quickly restored gelsolin protein levels in the latter cell line. The status of ubiquitinated gelsolin is related to lymph node metastasis of pancreatic cancer. In conclusion, gelsolin levels are actively downregulated in pancreatic cancer and enhanced targeting of gelsolin to the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway is an important contributing factor for this effect.

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