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Oncogene. 2011 Jan 13;30(2):201-11. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.401. Epub 2010 Aug 30.

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma upregulated factor promotes metastasis by regulating TLR/CXCR4 activation.

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Department of Biological Science, National Creative Research Initiative Center for Cell Division and Differentiation, Daejeon, Korea.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma upregulated factor (PAUF) is overproduced in certain types of cancer. However, little is known of the tumorigenic function of PAUF. In this study, we report the X-ray crystal structure of PAUF and reveal that PAUF is a mammalian lectin normally found in plant lectins. We also identify PAUF as an endogenous ligand of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) and TLR4 by screening extracellular domain receptor pools. We further confirmed the specificity of the PAUF-TLR2 interaction. PAUF induces extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation and activates the IKK-β-mediated TPL2/MEK/ERK signaling pathway through TLR2. In agreement with the result of TLR2-mediated ERK activation by PAUF, PAUF induces increased expression of the protumorigenic cytokines RANTES and MIF in THP-1 cells. However, PAUF does not fully activate Iκ-B-α signaling pathways in THP-1 cells, and fails to translocate the p65 subunit of the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) complex into the nucleus, resulting in no NF-κB activation. Surprisingly, we found that PAUF also associated with the CXC chemokine receptor (CXCR4)-TLR2 complex and inhibited CXCR4-dependent, TLR2-mediated NF-κB activation. Together, these findings suggest that the new cancer-associated ligand, PAUF, may activate TLR-mediated ERK signaling to produce the protumorigenic cytokines, but inhibits TLR-mediated NF-κB signaling, thereby facilitating tumor growth and escape from innate immune surveillance.

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