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Mol Cancer Res. 2009 Feb;7(2):189-98. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-08-0132. Epub 2009 Feb 10.

EFEMP1 expression promotes in vivo tumor growth in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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Munich University Medical Center, Department of Surgery, Munich, Germany.


The progression of pancreatic cancer is dependent on local tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis. EFEMP1, a recently discovered member of the fibulin family, was characterized with regard to these key elements of pancreatic cancer progression. Differential gene expression was assessed by mRNA microarray hybridization in FG human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells and L3.6pl cells, a highly metastatic variant of FG. In vivo orthotopic tumor growth of EFEMP1-transfected FG cells was examined in nude mice. To assess the angiogenic properties of EFEMP1, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production of tumor cells, endothelial cell proliferation and migration, and tumor microvessel density were analyzed in response to EFEMP1. Further, tumor cell apoptosis, cell cycle progression, and resistance to cytotoxic agents were quantitated by propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry. In microarray hybridization, EFEMP1 was shown to be significantly up-regulated in L3.6pl cells compared with FG cells. Concordantly, EFEMP1 transfection of FG cells stimulated orthotopic and metastatic tumor growth in vivo. EFEMP1 expression resulted in a stimulation of VEGF production by tumor cells and an increased number of CD31-positive microvessels. Endothelial cell proliferation and migration were not altered by EFEMP1, indicating an indirect angiogenic effect. Further, EFEMP1 expression decreased apoptosis and promoted cell cycle progression in response to serum starvation or exposure to gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil, and irinotecan. EFEMP1 has protumorigenic effects on pancreatic cancer in vivo and in vitro mediated by VEGF-driven angiogenesis and antiapoptotic mechanisms. Hence, EFEMP1 is a promising candidate for assessing prognosis and individualizing therapy in a clinical tumor setting.

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