MUC4; mucin 4, cell surface associated (3q29)

Gene Summary

Gene:MUC4; mucin 4, cell surface associated
Aliases: ASGP, MUC-4, HSA276359
Summary:The major constituents of mucus, the viscous secretion that covers epithelial surfaces such as those in the trachea, colon, and cervix, are highly glycosylated proteins called mucins. These glycoproteins play important roles in the protection of the epithelial cells and have been implicated in epithelial renewal and differentiation. This gene encodes an integral membrane glycoprotein found on the cell surface, although secreted isoforms may exist. At least two dozen transcript variants of this gene have been found, although for many of them the full-length transcript has not been determined or they are found only in tumor tissues. This gene contains a region in the coding sequence which has a variable number (>100) of 48 nt tandem repeats. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Updated:14 December, 2014


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1989-2014)
Graph generated 14 December 2014 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 14 December, 2014 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Notable (5)

Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
Pancreatic CancerMUC4 and Pancreatic Cancer View Publications33
Lung CancerMUC4 and Lung Cancer View Publications9
Stomach CancerMUC4 and Stomach Cancer View Publications8
Soft Tissue SarcomaMUC4 and Soft Tissue Cancers View Publications7
Prostate CancerMUC4 and Prostate Cancer View Publications3

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Related Links

Latest Publications: MUC4 (cancer-related)

Fukui Y
Mechanisms behind signet ring cell carcinoma formation.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 450(4):1231-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
Signet ring cell carcinomas are highly malignant dedifferentiated adenocarcinomas. There are no cell-cell interactions between these round-shaped cells. They contain huge numbers of vacuoles, filled with mucins, which are secreted from the cells. The mechanism behind this phenotype has recently begun to be elucidated. In highly differentiated adenocarcinomas the ErbB2/ErbB3 complex is activated, which is followed by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activation. p38 MAP kinase is activated downstream of PI3K and adherens junctions are disrupted via Rac1 activation. Loss of adherens junctions leads to the disappearance of tight junctions, which results in a loss of cell-cell interactions. Secretion of mucin is enhanced by activation of PI3K. One of the mucins - Muc4 - can activate ErbB2. Under normal conditions Muc4 and ErbB2 are separated by adherens and tight junctions, however in signet ring cells they are able to interact, since these junctions have been lost. Therefore, an activation loop is formed, consisting of ERbB2/ErbB3-Muc4-ErbB2/ErbB3. As a result, the ErbB2/ErbB3 signaling pathway becomes constitutively activated, cell-cell interactions are lost, and signet ring carcinomas are formed. As a result of constitutive activation of the ErbB2/ErbB3 complex, cell growth is continuously enhanced. Some signet ring cell carcinomas have been found to have mutations in the E-cadherin gene, which fits the above hypothesis.

Sugita S, Aoyama T, Kondo K, et al.
Diagnostic utility of NCOA2 fluorescence in situ hybridization and Stat6 immunohistochemistry staining for soft tissue angiofibroma and morphologically similar fibrovascular tumors.
Hum Pathol. 2014; 45(8):1588-96 [PubMed] Related Publications
Soft tissue angiofibroma (STA), a recently suggested new histologic entity, is a benign fibrovascular soft tissue tumor composed of bland spindle-shaped tumor cells with abundant collagenous to myxoid stroma and branching small vessels. The lesion has a characteristic AHRR-NCOA2 fusion gene derived from chromosomal translocation of t(5;8)(p15;q13). However, morphologically similar tumors containing abundant fibrovascular and myxoid stroma can complicate diagnosis. We designed an original DNA probe for detecting NCOA2 split signals on fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and estimated its utility with 20 fibrovascular tumors: 4 each of STAs, solitary fibrous tumors (SFTs), and cellular angiofibromas and 3 each of low-grade myxofibrosarcomas, myxoid liposarcomas, and low-grade fibromyxoid sarcomas. We also performed FISH for 13q14 deletion and immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, retinoblastoma protein, and MUC-4 expression. Furthermore, IHC for Stat6 was conducted in the 20 cases analyzed by FISH and in an additional 26 SFTs. We found moderate to strong nuclear Stat6 expression in all SFTs but no expression in the other tumors. Both estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor expressions were observed in STAs, SFTs, and cellular angiofibromas. Expression of retinoblastoma protein was found in less than 10% of cells in all tumor types except myxoid liposarcoma. The low-grade fibromyxoid sarcomas were strongly positive for MUC-4. All STAs showed NCOA2 split signals on FISH. All tumors, regardless of histologic type, had 13q14 deletion. The NCOA2 FISH technique is a practical method for confirming STA diagnosis. The combination of NCOA2 FISH and Stat6 IHC proved effective for the differential diagnosis of STA, even when using small biopsy specimens.

Related: Chromosome 13 FISH

Arbajian E, Puls F, Magnusson L, et al.
Recurrent EWSR1-CREB3L1 gene fusions in sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2014; 38(6):801-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma (SEF) and low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma (LGFMS) are 2 distinct types of sarcoma, with a subset of cases showing overlapping morphologic and immunohistochemical features. LGFMS is characterized by expression of the MUC4 protein, and about 90% of cases display a distinctive FUS-CREB3L2 gene fusion. In addition, SEF is often MUC4 positive, but is genetically less well studied. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) studies have shown involvement of the FUS gene in the majority of so-called hybrid LGFMS/SEF and in 10% to 25% of sarcomas with pure SEF morphology. In this study, we investigated a series of 10 primary tumors showing pure SEF morphology, 4 cases of LGFMS that at local or distant relapse showed predominant SEF morphology, and 1 primary hybrid LGFMS/SEF. All but 1 case showed diffuse expression for MUC4. Using FISH, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, and/or mRNA sequencing in selected cases, we found recurrent EWSR1-CREB3L1 fusion transcripts by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in 3/10 pure SEF cases and splits and deletions of the EWSR1 and/or CREB3L1 genes by FISH in 6 additional cases. All 5 cases of LGFMS with progression to SEF morphology or hybrid features had FUS-CREB3L2 fusion transcripts. Our results indicate that EWSR1 and CREB3L1 rearrangements are predominant over FUS and CREB3L2 rearrangements in pure SEF, highlighting that SEF and LGFMS are different tumor types, with different impacts on patient outcome.

Related: FISH EWSR1 gene

Zhi X, Tao J, Xie K, et al.
MUC4-induced nuclear translocation of β-catenin: a novel mechanism for growth, metastasis and angiogenesis in pancreatic cancer.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 346(1):104-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
The membrane mucin MUC4 is aberrantly expressed in multiple cancers and is of clinical significance to diagnosis and prognosis in pancreatic cancer. However, the role of MUC4 in angiogenesis and the potential association among these malignant capabilities have not been explored. In this study, we investigated the collective signaling mechanisms associated with MUC4-induced growth, metastasis and angiogenesis in pancreatic cancer. Knockdown of MUC4 in two pancreatic cancer cell lines led to downregulation of lysosomal degradation of E-cadherin by Src kinase through downregulation of pFAK and pSrc pathway. The downregulation of lysosomal degradation of E-cadherin in turn induced the formation of E-cadherin/β-catenin complex and membrane translocation of β-catenin, resulting in the downregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Thus, the Wnt/β-catenin target genes c-Myc, Cyclin D1, CD44 and VEGF were down-regulated and their malignant functions proliferation, metastasis and angiogenesis were reduced. Taken together, MUC4-induced nuclear translocation of β-catenin is a novel mechanism for growth, metastasis and angiogenesis of pancreatic cancer.

Related: Angiogenesis and Cancer Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer Signal Transduction CTNNB1 gene

Kaur S, Sharma N, Krishn SR, et al.
MUC4-mediated regulation of acute phase protein lipocalin 2 through HER2/AKT/NF-κB signaling in pancreatic cancer.
Clin Cancer Res. 2014; 20(3):688-700 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
PURPOSE: MUC4 shows aberrant expression in early pancreatic lesions and a high specificity for pancreatic cancer. It thus has a high potential to be a sensitive and specific biomarker. Unfortunately, its low serum level limits its diagnostic/prognostic potential. We here report that a multifaceted acute phase protein lipocalin 2, regulated by MUC4, could be a potential diagnostic/prognostic marker for pancreatic cancer. Experimental Designs and
RESULTS: Overexpression/knockdown, luciferase reporter and molecular inhibition studies revealed that MUC4 regulates lipocalin 2 by stabilizing HER2 and stimulating AKT, which results in the activation of NF-κB. Immunohistochemical analyses of lipocalin 2 and MUC4 showed a significant positive correlation between MUC4 and lipocalin 2 in primary, metastatic tissues (Spearman correlation coefficient 0.71, P = 0.002) from rapid autopsy tissue sample from patients with pancreatic cancer as well as in serum and tissue samples from spontaneous KRASG(12)D mouse pancreatic cancer model (Spearman correlation coefficient 0.98, P < 0.05). Lipocalin 2 levels increased progressively with disease advancement (344.2 ± 22.8 ng/mL for 10 weeks to 3067.2 ± 572.6 for 50 weeks; P < 0.0001). In human pancreatic cancer cases, significantly elevated levels of lipocalin 2 were observed in patients with pancreatic cancer (148 ± 13.18 ng/mL) in comparison with controls (73.27 ± 4.9 ng/mL, P = 0.014). Analyses of pre- and postchemotherapy patients showed higher lipocalin 2 levels in prechemotherapy patients [121.7 ng/mL; 95% confidence interval (CI), 98.1-150.9] in comparison with the postchemotherapy (92.6 ng/mL; 95% CI, 76.7-111.6; P = 0.06) group.
CONCLUSIONS: This study delineates the association and the downstream mechanisms of MUC4-regulated elevation of lipocalin-2 (via HER2/AKT/NF-κB) and its clinical significance for prognosis of pancreatic cancer.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer AKT1 Signal Transduction

Chan JK
Newly available antibodies with practical applications in surgical pathology.
Int J Surg Pathol. 2013; 21(6):553-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Selected antibodies that have become available in recent years and have applications in diagnostic pathology are discussed. They include antibodies that are organ-related, provide information on cellular differentiation or histogenetic type, have predictive value in tumors, and highlight infective agents. PAX8 (paired box gene 8) is a marker expressed in the lower female genital tract, thyroid, and kidney and their tumors. Napsin A is expressed in the lung and kidney and is an alternative marker for pulmonary adenocarcinoma. Arginase A is a sensitive and specific marker for liver tumors. ERG (Ets-related gene) is an excellent marker for endothelium and vascular tumors as well as prostatic cancer (about 50% of cases). SOX10 (SRY-related HMG box) is expressed predominantly in melanocytic and Schwann cells and the corresponding tumors. DOG1 (discovered on GIST 1) is an excellent marker for gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) and acinic cell carcinoma. OCT3/4 is a pan-germ cell tumor marker, except yolk sac tumor. SALL4 is positive in various types of germ cell tumors, including yolk sac tumor. MUC4 (mucin-related antigen 4) is a sensitive and specific marker for low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma. Langerin is a specific marker for Langerhans cells and their tumors. SOX11 is a sensitive marker for mantle cell lymphoma. New generation antibodies against anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) are required to reliably demonstrate ALK gene translocation in pulmonary carcinomas. Lack of expression of succinate dehydrogenase B is seen in paragangliomas of the hereditary form and in the pediatric type of GIST. Antibodies against Trepenoma pallidum can facilitate the diagnosis of syphilis, whereas those against SV40 (simian virus 40) are helpful for diagnosis of BK virus infection and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

Related: Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction

Zhang Z, Wang J, He J, et al.
Genetic variants in MUC4 gene are associated with lung cancer risk in a Chinese population.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(10):e77723 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Mucin MUC4, which is encoded by the MUC4 gene, plays an important role in epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation. Aberrant MUC4 overexpression is associated with invasive tumor proliferation and poor outcome in epithelial cancers. Collectively, the existing evidence suggests that MUC4 has tumor-promoter functions. In this study, we performed a case-control study of 1,048 incident lung cancer cases and 1,048 age- and sex frequency-matched cancer-free controls in a Chinese population to investigate the role of MUC4 gene polymorphism in lung cancer etiology. We identified nine SNPs that were significantly associated with increased lung cancer risk (P = 0.0425 for rs863582, 0.0333 for rs842226, 0.0294 for rs842225, 0.0010 for rs2550236, 0.0149 for rs2688515, 0.0191 for rs 2641773, 0.0058 for rs3096337, 0.0077 for rs859769, and 0.0059 for rs842461 in an additive model). Consistent with these single-locus analysis results, the haplotype analyses revealed an adverse effect of the haplotype "GGC" of rs3096337, rs859769, and rs842461 on lung cancer. Both the haplotype and diplotype "CTGAGC" of rs863582, rs842226, rs2550236, rs842225, and rs2688515 had an adverse effect on lung cancer, which is also consistent with the single-locus analysis. Moreover, we observed statistically significant interactions for rs863582 and rs842461 in heavy smokers. Our results suggest that MUC4 gene polymorphisms and their interaction with smoking may contribute to lung cancer etiology.

Related: Lung Cancer

Radhakrishnan P, Mohr AM, Grandgenett PM, et al.
MicroRNA-200c modulates the expression of MUC4 and MUC16 by directly targeting their coding sequences in human pancreatic cancer.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(10):e73356 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Transmembrane mucins, MUC4 and MUC16 are associated with tumor progression and metastatic potential in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma. We discovered that miR-200c interacts with specific sequences within the coding sequence of MUC4 and MUC16 mRNAs, and evaluated the regulatory nature of this association. Pancreatic cancer cell lines S2.028 and T3M-4 transfected with miR-200c showed a 4.18 and 8.50 fold down regulation of MUC4 mRNA, and 4.68 and 4.82 fold down regulation of MUC16 mRNA compared to mock-transfected cells, respectively. A significant reduction of glycoprotein expression was also observed. These results indicate that miR-200c overexpression regulates MUC4 and MUC16 mucins in pancreatic cancer cells by directly targeting the mRNA coding sequence of each, resulting in reduced levels of MUC4 and MUC16 mRNA and protein. These data suggest that, in addition to regulating proteins that modulate EMT, miR-200c influences expression of cell surface mucins in pancreatic cancer.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer

Zhang ZF, Pei BX, Wang AL, et al.
Expressions of CLDN1 and insulin-like growth factor 2 are associated with poor prognosis in stage N2 non-small cell lung cancer.
Chin Med J (Engl). 2013; 126(19):3668-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Patients with single station mediastinal lymph node (N2) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have a better prognosis than those with multilevel N2. The molecular factors which are involved in disease progression remain largely unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate gene expression differences between single station and multilevel N2 NSCLC and to identify the crucial molecular factors which are associated with progress and prognosis of stage N2 NSCLC.
METHODS: Gene expression analysis was performed using Agilent 4×44K Whole Human Genome Oligo Microarray on 10 freshfrozen lymph node tissue samples from single station N2 and paired multilevel N2 NSCLC patients. Real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was used to validate the differential expression of 14 genes selected by cDNA microarray of which four were confirmed. Immunohistochemical staining for these validated genes was performed on formalin-fixed, paraffinembedded tissue samples from 130 cases of stage N2 NSCLC arranged in a high-density tissue microarray.
RESULTS: We identified a 14 gene expression signature by comparative analysis of gene expression. Expression of these genes strongly differed between single station and multilevel N2 NSCLC. Four genes (ADAM28, MUC4, CLDN1, and IGF2) correlated with the results of microarray and real-time RT-PCR analysis for the gene-expression data in samples from 56 NSCLC patients. Immunohistochemical staining for these genes in samples from 130 cases of stage N2 NSCLC demonstrated the expression of IGF2 and CLDN1 was negatively correlated with overall survival of stage N2 NSCLC.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the expression of CLDN1 and IGF2 indicate a poor prognosis in stage N2 NSCLC. Further, CLDN1 and IGF2 may provide potential targeting opportunities in future therapies.

Related: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer IGF2 Lung Cancer

Gao L, Liu J, Zhang B, et al.
Functional MUC4 suppress epithelial-mesenchymal transition in lung adenocarcinoma metastasis.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(2):1335-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
The mucin MUC4 is a high molecular weight membrane-bound transmembrane glycoprotein that is frequently detected in invasive and metastatic cancer. The overexpression of MUC4 is associated with increased risks for several types of cancer. However, the functional role of MUC4 is poorly understood in lung adenocarcinoma. Using antisense-MUC4-RNA transfected adenocarcinoma cells, we discovered that the loss of MUC4 expression results in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We found morphological alterations and the repression of the epithelial marker E-cadherin in transfected cells. Additionally, the loss of MUC4 caused the upregulation of the mesenchymal marker vimentin compared to control cells. Using a MUC4-knockdown versus control LTEP xenograft mice model (129/sv mice), we also found that EMT happened in lung tissues of MUC4-knockdown-LTEP xenograft mice. Moreover, antisense-MUC4-RNA transfected cells had a significantly increased cellular migration ability in vitro. The loss of MUC4 also occurred in lung adenocarcinoma patients with lymph node metastases. We further investigated MUC4 and found that it plays a critical role in regulating EMT by modulating β-catenin. Taken together, our study reveals a novel role for MUC4 in suppressing EMT and suggests that the assessment of MUC4 may function as a prognostic biomarker and could be a potential therapeutic target for lung adenocarcinoma metastasis.

Related: Lung Cancer Signal Transduction

Macha MA, Rachagani S, Gupta S, et al.
Guggulsterone decreases proliferation and metastatic behavior of pancreatic cancer cells by modulating JAK/STAT and Src/FAK signaling.
Cancer Lett. 2013; 341(2):166-77 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Inadequate efficacy, high toxicity and drug resistance associated with existing chemotherapeutic agents mandate a need for novel therapeutic strategies for highly aggressive Pancreatic Cancer (PC). Guggulsterone (GS) exhibits potent anti-proliferative effects against various cancer cells and has emerged as an attractive candidate for use in complementary or preventive cancer therapies. However, the knowledge regarding the therapeutic potential of GS in PC is still limited and needs to be explored. We studied the effect of GS on PC cell growth, motility and invasion and elucidated the molecular mechanisms associated with its anti-tumor effects. Treatment of Capan1 and CD18/HPAF PC cells with GS resulted in dose- and time-dependent growth inhibition and decreased colony formation. Further, GS treatment induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest as assessed by Annexin-V assay and FACS analysis. Increased apoptosis following GS treatment was accompanied with Bad dephosphorylation and its translocation to the mitochondria, increased Caspase-3 activation, decreased Cyclin D1, Bcl-2 and xIAP expression. Additionally, GS treatment decreased motility and invasion of PC cells by disrupting cytoskeletal organization, inhibiting activation of FAK and Src signaling and decreased MMP9 expression. More importantly, GS treatment decreased mucin MUC4 expression in Capan1 and CD18/HPAF cells through transcriptional regulation by inhibiting Jak/STAT pathway. In conclusion, our results support the utility of GS as a potential therapeutic agent for lethal PC.

Related: Apoptosis Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer Signal Transduction

Habib S, Singh M, Ariatti M
Glycosylated liposomes with proton sponge capacity: novel hepatocyte- specific gene carriers.
Curr Drug Deliv. 2013; 10(6):685-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interest in hepatocyte-directed liposomal gene delivery is driven, in part, by the lack of effective treatment for several liver-associated disorders. To impart a hepatocyte targeting capability on DNA-lipoplexes, and to promote early release of cargo DNA from endosomes, novel glycosylated and imidazolylated cholesteryl derivatives have been synthesized and evaluated in vitro. Thus cholesteryl-3β-N-[(lactobionyl) amino] carbamate (Chol-LAC) and cholesteryl-3β-N- [(urocanyl) amino] carbamate (Chol-UAC) have been formulated with the cytofectin cholesteryl-3β-[(N',N'- dimethylaminopropyl) carbamate (Chol-T) and the neutral co-lipid dioleoylphosphatidyl ethanolamine (DOPE). Liposomes, which displayed a buffering capability at endosomal pH, effectively bound DNA at a N/P ratio of 0.8:1 and offered partial protection against serum nuclease digestion. The MTT cell viability assay showed that lipoplexes were well tolerated by human hepatoma cells (HepG2), which were efficiently transfected almost exclusively by asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGP-R)-mediation, as demonstrated in competition assays. In the ASGP-R-negative human kidney cell line (HEK293) transfection levels were considerably lower (P < 0.001). Therefore the combination of Chol-LAC and Chol- UAC in cationic liposomal formulations may provide a platform for the development of useful hepatotropic gene delivery systems.

Related: Liver Cancer

Yamashita H, Endo K, Takeda C, et al.
Intramuscular myxoma of the buttock mimicking low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma: diagnostic usefulness of MUC4 expression.
Skeletal Radiol. 2013; 42(10):1475-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Intramuscular myxoma (IM) is a benign intramuscular neoplasm composed of fibroblasts and abundant myxoid stroma. Some malignant soft tissue tumors can undergo myxomatous degeneration, which makes it difficult to distinguish them from IM. We describe a case of IM of the buttock region mimicking low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma. The tumor appeared as a well-defined ovoid mass with a cystic lesion on MRI images, and mild uptake on PET images was seen. This was originally misdiagnosed as low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma (LGFMS) after core-needle biopsy. The mass was excised en bloc and sent for histology. The surgical specimen showed the features of LGFMS with the same characteristics as those mentioned in the previous biopsy report. After surgery, MUC4 expression, a highly sensitive and specific immunohistochemical marker for LGFMS, and FUS gene rearrangement by FISH was not detected upon re-examination; therefore, a conclusive diagnosis of IM was made. The patient had no local recurrence at the 3-year follow-up. Our case suggests that IM with mild FDG uptake is frequently confused with other low-grade malignant myxoid tumors. In addition, absence of MUC4 expression is the definitive key to distinguish IM from LGFMS.

Shi M, Yang Z, Hu M, et al.
Catecholamine-Induced β2-adrenergic receptor activation mediates desensitization of gastric cancer cells to trastuzumab by upregulating MUC4 expression.
J Immunol. 2013; 190(11):5600-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Trastuzumab is currently used for patients with Her2(+) advanced gastric cancer. However, the response rate to trastuzumab among the patients is low. The molecular mechanisms underlying trastuzumab resistance in gastric cancer are unknown. Our in vitro data show that activation of β2-adrenergic receptor (β2-AR) triggered by catecholamine caused "targeting failure" of trastuzumab in gastric cancer cells. The antitumor activities of trastuzumab were significantly impeded by chronic catecholamine stimulation in gastric cancer cells and in the mice bearing human gastric cancer xenografts. Mechanistically, catecholamine induced upregulation of the MUC4 expression at both transcription and protein levels via activating STAT3 and ERK. The effects of catecholamine could be effectively blocked by β2-AR antagonist ICI-118,551, indicating that β2-AR-mediated signaling pathway plays a key role in upregulation of MUC4, which was previously demonstrated to interfere with the recognition and physical binding of trastuzumab to Her2 molecules. Moreover, a significant elevation of the MUC4 level was observed in the xenograft tissues in nude mice chronically treated with isoproterenol. Knockdown of MUC4 restored the binding activities of trastuzumab to Her2-overexpressing gastric cancer cells. In addition, coexpression of β2-AR and MUC4 were observed in gastric cancer tissues. Our data indicated a novel trastuzumab resistance mechanism, by which catecholamine-induced β2-AR activation mediates desensitization of gastric cancer cells to trastuzumab through upregulating the MUC4 expression.

Related: Stomach Cancer Gastric Cancer Trastuzumab (Herceptin)

Lau PP, Lui PC, Lau GT, et al.
EWSR1-CREB3L1 gene fusion: a novel alternative molecular aberration of low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2013; 37(5):734-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma (LGFMS) is an uncommon sarcoma with a deceptively bland-looking morphology that disguises its malignant clinical behavior. It shows distinctive chromosomal translocations resulting in fusion of FUS with the CREB3L2 gene in most cases and CREB3L1 in rare cases. Thus molecular studies are particularly helpful in the diagnosis of this bland-looking sarcoma. We report 2 cases of LGFMS serendipitously found to harbor a novel alternative EWSR1-CREB3L1 gene fusion, as confirmed by DNA sequencing of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction products and fluorescence in situ hybridization. One patient was a child who presented with a subcutaneous nodule on the lower leg, and the other was a middle-aged woman who had a mass lesion over the proximal thigh. Morphologically, one case showed a spindle cell tumor with hyalinization and giant rosettes, whereas the other showed classical histology of LGFMS with focal metaplastic bone formation. Immunostaining for MUC4 showed extensive positive staining. Our findings therefore expand the spectrum of gene fusions that characterize LGFMS and suggest that the EWSR1 gene may substitute for the function of FUS in gene fusions of sarcoma.

Related: FISH EWSR1 gene

Horn A, Chakraborty S, Dey P, et al.
Immunocytochemistry for MUC4 and MUC16 is a useful adjunct in the diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma on fine-needle aspiration cytology.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2013; 137(4):546-51 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
CONTEXT: Diagnoses rendered as atypical/suspicious for malignancy on fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of pancreatic mass lesions range from 2% to 29% in various studies. We have identified the expression of 3 genes, MUC4, MUC16, and NGAL that are highly upregulated in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In this study, we analyzed the expression of these markers in FNA samples to determine whether they could improve sensitivity and specificity.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the utility of MUC4, MUC16, and NGAL in the evaluation of pancreatic FNA specimens.
DESIGN: Records of pancreatic FNAs performed during 10 consecutive years were reviewed. Unstained sections from corresponding cell blocks were immunostained for MUC4, MUC16, and NGAL (polyclonal). Immunostaining was assessed using the H-score (range, 0-3). Any case with an H-score of >0.5 was considered positive.
RESULTS: Cases were classified using cytomorphologic criteria as adenocarcinoma (31 of 64; 48.4%), benign (17 of 64; 26.6%), and atypical/suspicious (16 of 64; 25%). On follow-up, all cases (100%; 31 of 31) diagnosed as carcinoma on cytology were confirmed on biopsy/resection samples or by clinical follow-up (such as unresectable disease). Of the cases diagnosed as atypical/suspicious, 69% (11 of 16) were found to be positive for adenocarcinoma and 31% (5 of 16) were benign on subsequent follow-up. Overall sensitivity and specificity, respectively, for the various markers for the detection of pancreatic adenocarcinoma were as follows: MUC4 (74% and 100%), MUC16 (62.9% and 100%), and NGAL (61.3% and 58.8%). In cases that were atypical/suspicious on cytology, expression of MUC4 and MUC16 was 100% specific for carcinoma with sensitivities of 63.6% and 66.7%, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Immunocytochemistry for MUC4 and MUC16 appears to be a useful adjunct in the classification of pancreatic FNA samples, especially in cases that are equivocal (atypical/suspicious) for adenocarcinoma on cytomorphologic assessment.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer

Yin H, Liang Y, Yan Z, et al.
Mutation spectrum in human colorectal cancers and potential functional relevance.
BMC Med Genet. 2013; 14:32 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Somatic variants, which occur in the genome of all cells, are well accepted to play a critical role in cancer development, as their accumulation in genes could affect cell proliferations and cell cycle.
METHODS: In order to understand the role of somatic mutations in human colorectal cancers, we characterized the mutation spectrum in two colorectal tumor tissues and their matched normal tissues, by analyzing deep-sequenced transcriptome data.
RESULTS: We found a higher mutation rate of somatic variants in tumor tissues in comparison with normal tissues, but no trend was observed for mutation properties. By applying a series of stringent filters, we identified 418 genes with tumor specific disruptive somatic variants. Of these genes, three genes in mucin protein family (MUC2, MUC4, and MU12) are of particular interests. It has been reported that the expression of mucin proteins was correlated with the progression of colorectal cancer therefore somatic variants within those genes can interrupt their normal expression and thus contribute to the tumorigenesis.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide evidence of the utility of RNA-Seq in mutation screening in cancer studies, and suggest a list of candidate genes for future colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Related: Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer

Algamas-Dimantov A, Yehuda-Shnaidman E, Peri I, Schwartz B
Epigenetic control of HNF-4α in colon carcinoma cells affects MUC4 expression and malignancy.
Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2013; 36(2):155-67 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: We previously found that enhanced expression of hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF-4α) is associated with hyper-proliferation of colon carcinoma cells. Here, the effect of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors on proliferation and the expression of HNF-4α and its downstream target genes were assessed in HM7, LS174T, HT29 and Caco-2 colon carcinoma cell lines.
RESULTS: HNF-4α expression was found to vary in the different colon carcinoma cell lines tested, being highest in HM7. Additionally, a direct correlation with proliferation was observed. In HM7 cells, the weak HDAC inhibitor butyrate significantly inhibited the transcription of HNF-4α, its downstream target gene MUC4, and genes associated with proliferation, including the proliferating cell nuclear antigen gene PCNA. siRNA-mediated silencing of HNF-4α exerted an effect similar to butyrate on HM7 cell proliferation. The stronger HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) exerted an effect similar to that of siRNA-mediated HNF-4α silencing and, concomitantly, inhibited the expression of the transcription factor gene SP1. Also, siRNA-mediated silencing of HDAC3 and HDAC4 reduced HNF-4α expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays revealed that TSA induces hyperacetylation of histones H3 and H4 and, concomitantly, inhibits SP1 binding to the HNF-4α promoter. Subsequent electromobility shift assays supported these latter findings.
CONCLUSIONS: HNF-4α transcriptional expression and activity are tightly controlled by epigenetic mechanisms. HDAC inhibitor targeting of HNF-4α may serve as an effective treatment for advanced colon carcinomas, since downstream cancer-associated target genes such as MUC4 are significantly down-regulated by this treatment.

Rachagani S, Torres MP, Kumar S, et al.
Mucin (Muc) expression during pancreatic cancer progression in spontaneous mouse model: potential implications for diagnosis and therapy.
J Hematol Oncol. 2012; 5:68 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a lethal malignancy primarily driven by activated Kras mutations and characterized by the deregulation of several genes including mucins. Previous studies on mucins have identified their significant role in both benign and malignant human diseases including PC progression and metastasis. However, the initiation of MUC expression during PC remains unknown because of lack of early stage tumor tissues from PC patients.
METHODS: In the present study, we have evaluated stage specific expression patterns of mucins during mouse PC progression in (Kras(G12D);Pdx1-Cre (KC)) murine PC model from pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) by immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time PCR.
RESULTS: In agreement with previous studies on human PC, we observed a progressive increase in the expression of mucins particularly Muc1, Muc4 and Muc5AC in the pancreas of KC (as early as PanIN I) mice with advancement of PanIN lesions and PDAC both at mRNA and protein levels. Additionally, mucin expression correlated with the increased expression of inflammatory cytokines IFN-γ (p < 0.0062), CXCL1 (p < 0.00014) and CXCL2 (p < 0.08) in the pancreas of KC mice, which are known to induce mucin expression. Further, we also observed progressive increase in inflammation in pancreas of KC mice from 10 to 50 weeks of age as indicated by the increase in the macrophage infiltration. Overall, this study corroborates with previous human studies that indicated the aberrant overexpression of MUC1, MUC4 and MUC5AC mucins during the progression of PC.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study reinforces the potential utility of the KC murine model for determining the functional role of mucins in PC pathogenesis by crossing KC mice with corresponding mucin knockout mice and evaluating mucin based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for lethal PC.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer

Doyle LA, Wang WL, Dal Cin P, et al.
MUC4 is a sensitive and extremely useful marker for sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma: association with FUS gene rearrangement.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2012; 36(10):1444-51 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma (SEF) is a rare aggressive fibroblastic neoplasm composed of cords of epithelioid cells embedded in a dense collagenous stroma. The reported immunophenotype of SEF is nonspecific. Some SEF cases show morphologic and molecular overlap with low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma (LGFMS), suggesting a relationship between these tumor types. MUC4 has recently been identified as a sensitive and specific marker for LGFMS; MUC4 expression was also observed in 2 tumors with hybrid features of SEF and LGFMS. We investigated MUC4 expression in SEF and other epithelioid soft tissue tumors to determine (1) the potential diagnostic utility of MUC4 for SEF and (2) the association between MUC4 expression and FUS rearrangement in SEF. Whole sections of 180 tumors were evaluated: 41 cases of SEF (including 29 "pure" SEF and 12 hybrid LGFMS-SEF), 20 epithelioid sarcomas, 11 clear cell sarcomas, 11 metastatic melanomas, 10 perivascular epithelioid cell tumors, 10 alveolar soft part sarcomas, 10 epithelioid angiosarcomas, 10 epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas, 10 epithelioid gastrointestinal stromal tumors, 10 myoepithelial carcinomas, 17 ossifying fibromyxoid tumors, 10 leiomyosarcomas, and 10 biphasic synovial sarcomas. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed after antigen retrieval using a mouse anti-MUC4 monoclonal antibody. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was performed on 33 SEF cases using FUS break-apart probes. A subset of cases was also evaluated for EWSR1 and CREB3L2/L1 rearrangements by FISH. Strong diffuse cytoplasmic staining for MUC4 was observed in 32 of 41 (78%) cases of SEF, including all 12 hybrid tumors. FUS rearrangement was detected in 8 of 21 (38%) MUC4-positive cases of SEF with successful FISH studies. The prevalence of FUS rearrangement was similar in hybrid LGFMS-SEF (2 of 6; 33%) and SEF without an LGFMS component (6 of 15; 40%). FUS rearrangement was not detected in any cases of MUC4-negative SEF. Two hybrid tumors had both EWSR1 and CREB3L1 rearrangements. MUC4 expression was also seen in 9 of 10 (90%) biphasic synovial sarcomas, predominantly in the glandular component. All other tumor types were negative for MUC4, apart from focal reactivity in 5 ossifying fibromyxoid tumors, 2 epithelioid gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and 1 myoepithelial carcinoma. MUC4 is a sensitive and relatively specific marker for SEF among epithelioid soft tissue tumors. MUC4 expression occurs more frequently than FUS rearrangement in SEF. The finding of EWSR1 and CREB3L1 rearrangements in 2 cases of hybrid LGFMS-SEF suggests that SEFs are genetically heterogenous. MUC4-positive SEFs with FUS rearrangement are likely closely related to LGFMS. MUC4-positive SEFs that lack FUS rearrangement may be related to LGFMS but could have alternate fusion partners, including EWSR1. SEF without MUC4 expression may represent a distinct group of tumors. MUC4 expression correlates with glandular epithelial differentiation in biphasic synovial sarcoma and is very limited in other epithelioid soft tissue tumors.

Related: FISH Synovial Sarcoma

Hisaoka M, Matsuyama A, Aoki T, et al.
Low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma with prominent giant rosettes and heterotopic ossification.
Pathol Res Pract. 2012; 208(9):557-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma is a rare soft tissue sarcoma of fibroblastic differentiation characterized by a deceptively benign morphologic appearance with almost consistent MUC4 expression and recurrent chromosomal translocations, t(7;16)(q34;p11) and t(11;16)(p11;p11), resulting in the FUS-CREB3L2 and FUS-CREB3L1 fusion genes, respectively. A subset of the tumors show peculiar histologic features, designated as giant rosettes, and were formerly referred to as hyalinizing spindle cell tumor with giant rosettes. We herein report a case of low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma showing the presence of numerous giant rosettes, with and without collagenous centers, distributed throughout the lesion and unusual rim-like heterotopic ossification. Such a case might present a diagnostic challenge. The diagnosis of the tumor was confirmed by positive immunoreactivity to MUC4 and the FUS-CREB3L2 fusion detected by molecular testing using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. This case, which has such unusual clinicopathologic features, would help to further expand our knowledge regarding the morphologic diversities of low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma.

Rachagani S, Macha MA, Ponnusamy MP, et al.
MUC4 potentiates invasion and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells through stabilization of fibroblast growth factor receptor 1.
Carcinogenesis. 2012; 33(10):1953-64 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
MUC4 is a type-1 transmembrane mucin differentially expressed in multiple cancers and has previously been shown to potentiate progression and metastasis of pancreatic cancer. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms associated with the MUC4-induced invasion and metastasis in pancreatic cancer. Stable silencing of MUC4 in multiple pancreatic cancer cells resulted in the downregulation of N-cadherin and its interacting partner fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) through downregulation of partly by pFAK, pMKK7, pJNK and pc-Jun pathway and partly through PI-3K/Akt pathway. The downregulation of FGFR1 in turn led to downregulation of pAkt, pERK1/2, pNF-κB, pIkBα, uPA, MMP-9, vimentin, N-cadherin, Twist, Slug and Zeb1 and upregulation of E-cadherin, Occludin, Cytokeratin-18 and Caspase-9 in MUC4 knockdown BXPC3 and Capan1 cells compared with scramble vector transfected cells. Further, downregulation of FGFR1 was associated with a significant change in morphology and reorganization of the actin-cytoskeleton, leading to a significant decrease in motility (P < 0.00001) and invasion (P < 0.0001) in vitro and decreased tumorigenicity and incidence of metastasis in vivo upon orthotopic implantation in the athymic mice. Taken together, the results of the present study suggest that MUC4 promotes invasion and metastasis by FGFR1 stabilization through the N-cadherin upregulation.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer FGFR1 gene

Kossow C, Jose D, Jaster R, et al.
Mathematical modelling unravels regulatory mechanisms of interferon-γ-induced STAT1 serine-phosphorylation and MUC4 expression in pancreatic cancer cells.
IET Syst Biol. 2012; 6(3):73-85 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interferon-γ (IFNγ)-mediated signal transduction via upregulation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 1 leads to the expression of the mucin (MUC) 4 gene in pancreatic cancer cells. Upregulation of STAT1 may also implicate STAT1 tyrosine- or serine-phosphorylation. Experimental data indicate that reaction steps involved in IFN-γ induced serine-phosphorylation of STAT1 vary between cell types in contrast to conserved IFN-γ induced tyrosine-phosphorylation of STAT1. The above observations raise the following two questions: (i) How does IFNγ stimulation regulates serine-phosphorylation of STAT1 in the pancreatic cancer cell line CD18/HPAF? (ii) Which type of STAT1 acts as a transcription factor of MUC4? Our objective is to address these two questions by data-driven mathematical modelling. Simulation results of the parameterised ordinary differential equation models show that serine-phosphorylation of unphosphorylated STAT1 occurs in the cytoplasm. In contrast, serine-phosphorylation of tyrosine-phosphorylated STAT1 can take place in the cytoplasm or in the nucleus. In addition, our results propose that unphosphorylated or serine-phosphorylated STAT1 can act as transcription factors of MUC4, either alone by progressive binding to different sites in the promoter or both together.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer Signal Transduction

Liu H, Shi J, Anandan V, et al.
Reevaluation and identification of the best immunohistochemical panel (pVHL, Maspin, S100P, IMP-3) for ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2012; 136(6):601-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Differentiation of ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas from nonneoplastic pancreatic tissues can be challenging, especially in small biopsy and fine-needle aspiration specimens.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the utility of 26 immunohistochemical markers (CAM 5.2, CK [cytokeratin] 7, CK20, CK17, CK19, MUC1, MUC2, MUC4, MUC5AC, MUC6, p53, DPC4/SMAD4, CDX2, pVHL [von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene protein], S100P, IMP-3 [insulin-like growth factor 2 messenger RNA binding protein 3], maspin, mesothelin, claudin 4, claudin 18, annexin A8, fascin, PSCA [prostate stem cell antigen], MOC31, CEA [carcinoembryonic antigen], and CA19-9 [cancer antigen 19-9]) in the diagnosis of ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.
DESIGN: Immunohistochemical staining for these markers was performed in 60 cases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma on routine and tissue microarray sections. In addition, immunohistochemical staining for maspin, S100P, IMP-3, and pVHL was performed on cell blocks from 67 pancreatic fine-needle aspiration cases, including 44 cases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
RESULTS: The results demonstrated that (1) more than 90% of cases of ductal adenocarcinoma were positive for maspin, S100P, and IMP-3; (2) nearly all adenocarcinoma cases were negative for pVHL, whereas nonneoplastic ducts and acini were positive for pVHL in all cases; (3) normal/reactive pancreatic ducts were frequently positive for CK7, CK19, MUC1, MUC6, CA19-9, MOC31, PSCA, mesothelin, annexin A8, claudin 4, and claudin 18; (4) normal pancreatic ducts were usually negative for IMP-3, maspin, S100P, CK17, MUC2, MUC4, and MUC5AC; (5) 60% of adenocarcinomas were negative for DPC4/SMAD4; and (6) strong background staining was frequently seen with fascin, PSCA, and annexin A8.
CONCLUSIONS: pVHL, maspin, S100P, and IMP-3 constitute the best diagnostic panel of immunomarkers for confirming the diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma in both surgical and fine-needle aspiration specimens.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer

Chen AC, Migliaccio I, Rimawi M, et al.
Upregulation of mucin4 in ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer xenografts with acquired resistance to endocrine and HER2-targeted therapies.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012; 134(2):583-93 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
We studied resistance to endocrine and HER2-targeted therapies using a xenograft model of estrogen receptor positive (ER)/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. Here, we report a novel phenotype of drug resistance in this model. MCF7/HER2-18 xenografts were treated with endocrine therapy alone or in combination with lapatinib and trastuzumab (LT) to inhibit HER2. Archival tumor tissues were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and with mucicarmine. RNA extracted from tumors at early time points and late after acquired resistance were analyzed for mucin4 (MUC4) expression by microarray and quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. Protein expression of the MUC4, ER, and HER2 signaling pathways was measured by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. The combination of the potent anti-HER2 regimen LT with either tamoxifen (Tam + LT) or estrogen deprivation (ED + LT) can cause complete eradication of ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing tumors in mice. Tumors developing resistance to this combination, as well as those acquiring resistance to endocrine therapy alone, exhibited a distinct histological and molecular phenotype-a striking increase in mucin-filled vacuoles and upregulation of several mucins including MUC4. At the onset of resistance, MUC4 mRNA and protein were increased. These tumors also showed upregulation and reactivation of HER2 signaling, while losing ER protein and the estrogen-regulated gene progesterone receptor. Mucins are upregulated in a preclinical model of ER-positive/HER2-overexpressing breast cancer as resistance develops to the combination of endocrine and anti-HER2 therapy. These mucin-rich tumors reactivate the HER2 pathway and shift their molecular phenotype to become more ER-negative/HER2-positive.

Related: Breast Cancer Signal Transduction Lapatinib (Tyverb) Trastuzumab (Herceptin)

Momi N, Ponnusamy MP, Kaur S, et al.
Nicotine/cigarette smoke promotes metastasis of pancreatic cancer through α7nAChR-mediated MUC4 upregulation.
Oncogene. 2013; 32(11):1384-95 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Despite evidence that long-term smoking is the leading risk factor for pancreatic malignancies, the underlying mechanism(s) for cigarette-smoke (CS)-induced pancreatic cancer (PC) pathogenesis has not been well established. Our previous studies revealed an aberrant expression of the MUC4 mucin in PC as compared with the normal pancreas, and its association with cancer progression and metastasis. Interestingly, here we explore a potential link between MUC4 expression and smoking-mediated PC pathogenesis and report that both cigarette smoke extract and nicotine, which is the major component of CS, significantly upregulates MUC4 in PC cells. This nicotine-mediated MUC4 overexpression was via the α7 subunit of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) stimulation and subsequent activation of the JAK2/STAT3 downstream signaling cascade in cooperation with the MEK/ERK1/2 pathway; this effect was blocked by the α7nAChR antagonists, α-bungarotoxin and mecamylamine, and by specific siRNA-mediated STAT3 inhibition. In addition, we demonstrated that nicotine-mediated MUC4 upregulation promotes the PC cell migration through the activation of the downstream effectors, such as HER2, c-Src and FAK; this effect was attenuated by shRNA-mediated MUC4 abrogation, further implying that these nicotine-mediated pathological effects on PC cells are MUC4 dependent. Furthermore, the in vivo studies showed a marked increase in the mean pancreatic tumor weight (low dose (100 mg/m(3) total suspended particulate (TSP)), P=0.014; high dose (247 mg/m(3) TSP), P=0.02) and significant tumor metastasis to various distant organs in the CS-exposed mice, orthotopically implanted with luciferase-transfected PC cells, as compared with the sham controls. Moreover, the CS-exposed mice had elevated levels of serum cotinine (low dose, 155.88±35.96 ng/ml; high dose, 216.25±29.95 ng/ml) and increased MUC4, α7nAChR and pSTAT3 expression in the pancreatic tumor tissues. Altogether, our findings revealed for the first time that CS upregulates the MUC4 mucin in PC via the α7nAChR/JAK2/STAT3 downstream signaling cascade, thereby promoting metastasis of PC.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer

Skrypek N, Duchêne B, Hebbar M, et al.
The MUC4 mucin mediates gemcitabine resistance of human pancreatic cancer cells via the Concentrative Nucleoside Transporter family.
Oncogene. 2013; 32(13):1714-23 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
The fluorinated analog of deoxycytidine, Gemcitabine (Gemzar), is the main chemotherapeutic drug in pancreatic cancer, but survival remains weak mainly because of the high resistance of tumors to the drug. Recent works have shown that the mucin MUC4 may confer an advantage to pancreatic tumor cells by modifying their susceptibility to drugs. However, the cellular mechanism(s) responsible for this MUC4-mediated resistance is unknown. The aim of this work was to identify the cellular mechanisms responsible for gemcitabine resistance linked to MUC4 expression. CAPAN-2 and CAPAN-1 adenocarcinomatous pancreatic cancer (PC) cell lines were used to establish stable MUC4-deficient clones (MUC4-KD) by shRNA interference. Measurement of the IC50 index using tetrazolium salt test indicated that MUC4-deficient cells were more sensitive to gemcitabine. This was correlated with increased Bax/BclXL ratio and apoptotic cell number. Expression of Equilibrative/Concentrative Nucleoside Transporter (hENT1, hCNT1/3), deoxycytidine kinase (dCK), ribonucleotide reductase (RRM1/2) and Multidrug-Resistance Protein (MRP3/4/5) was evaluated by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) and western blotting. Alteration of MRP3, MRP4, hCNT1 and hCNT3 expression was observed in MUC4-KD cells, but only hCNT1 alteration was correlated to MUC4 expression and sensitivity to gemcitabine. Decreased activation of MAPK, JNK and NF-κB pathways was observed in MUC4-deficient cells, in which the NF-κB pathway was found to have an important role in both sensitivity to gemcitabine and hCNT1 regulation. Finally, and in accordance with our in vitro data, we found that MUC4 expression was conversely correlated to that of hCNT1 in tissues from patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This work describes a new mechanism of PC cell resistance to gemcitabine, in which the MUC4 mucin negatively regulates the hCNT1 transporter expression via the NF-κB pathway. Altogether, these data point out to MUC4 and hCNT1 as potential targets to ameliorate the response of pancreatic tumors to gemcitabine treatment.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer Gemcitabine

Kunigal S, Ponnusamy MP, Momi N, et al.
Nicotine, IFN-γ and retinoic acid mediated induction of MUC4 in pancreatic cancer requires E2F1 and STAT-1 transcription factors and utilize different signaling cascades.
Mol Cancer. 2012; 11:24 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The membrane-bound mucins are thought to play an important biological role in cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, in cell signaling and in modulating biological properties of cancer cell. MUC4, a transmembrane mucin is overexpressed in pancreatic tumors, while remaining undetectable in the normal pancreas, thus indicating a potential role in pancreatic cancer pathogenesis. The molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of MUC4 gene are not yet fully understood. Smoking is strongly correlated with pancreatic cancer and in the present study; we elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which nicotine as well as agents like retinoic acid (RA) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) induce the expression of MUC4 in pancreatic cancer cell lines CD18, CAPAN2, AsPC1 and BxPC3.
RESULTS: Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays and real-time PCR showed that transcription factors E2F1 and STAT1 can positively regulate MUC4 expression at the transcriptional level. IFN-γ and RA could collaborate with nicotine in elevating the expression of MUC4, utilizing E2F1 and STAT1 transcription factors. Depletion of STAT1 or E2F1 abrogated the induction of MUC4; nicotine-mediated induction of MUC4 appeared to require α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit. Further, Src and ERK family kinases also mediated the induction of MUC4, since inhibiting these signaling molecules prevented the induction of MUC4. MUC4 was also found to be necessary for the nicotine-mediated invasion of pancreatic cancer cells, suggesting that induction of MUC4 by nicotine and other agents might contribute to the genesis and progression of pancreatic cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: Our studies show that agents that can promote the growth and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells induce the MUC4 gene through multiple pathways and this induction requires the transcriptional activity of E2F1 and STAT1. Further, the Src as well as ERK signaling pathways appear to be involved in the induction of this gene. It appears that targeting these signaling pathways might inhibit the expression of MUC4 and prevent the proliferation and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells.

Related: Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer AKT1 Signal Transduction

Jonckheere N, Skrypek N, Merlin J, et al.
The mucin MUC4 and its membrane partner ErbB2 regulate biological properties of human CAPAN-2 pancreatic cancer cells via different signalling pathways.
PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e32232 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
The mucin MUC4 and its membrane partner the ErbB2 oncogenic receptor are potential interacting partners in human pancreatic tumour development. However, the way they function is still largely unknown. In this work, we aimed to identify the cellular mechanisms and the intracellular signalling pathways under the control of both ErbB2 and MUC4 in a human pancreatic adenocarcinomatous cell line. Using co-immunoprecipitation and GST pull-down, we show that MUC4 and ErbB2 interact in the human pancreatic adenocarcinomatous cell line CAPAN-2 via the EGF domains of MUC4. Stable cell clones were generated in which either MUC4 or ErbB2 were knocked down (KD) by a shRNA approach. Biological properties of these cells were then studied in vitro and in vivo. Our results show that ErbB2-KD cells are more apoptotic and less proliferative (decreased cyclin D1 and increased p27kip1 expression) while migration and invasive properties were not altered. MUC4-KD clones were less proliferative with decreased cyclin D1 expression, G1 cell cycle arrest and altered ErbB2/ErbB3 expression. Their migration properties were reduced whereas invasive properties were increased. Importantly, inhibition of ErbB2 and MUC4 expression did not impair the same signalling pathways (inhibition of MUC4 expression affected the JNK pathway whereas that of ErbB2 altered the MAPK pathway). Finally, ErbB2-KD and MUC4-KD cells showed impaired tumour growth in vivo. Our results show that ErbB2 and MUC4, which interact physically, activate different intracellular signalling pathways to regulate biological properties of CAPAN-2 pancreatic cancer cells.

Related: Apoptosis MAP2K4 gene Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer Signal Transduction

Teicher BA
Searching for molecular targets in sarcoma.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2012; 84(1):1-10 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sarcoma are about 1% of cancers. Within that 1% are widely varied tumors now divided into types and subtypes. Sarcoma occur in patients of all ages with frequency spread evenly over the human age range. Although the specific cell of origin of many sarcoma remains unclear, sarcoma are all tumors of mesenchymal origin. The mesenchymal stem cell, a pluripotent cell, which gives rise to varied differentiated cells including osteocytes, adipocytes, chondrocytes, muscle cells, fibroblasts, neural cells and stromal cells, is the most likely ultimate cell of origin for sarcoma. When mesenchymal stem cell genetics go awry and malignant transformation occurs sarcoma including osteosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, chondrosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, synovial sarcoma fibrosarcoma, liposarcoma and many others can initiate. Our knowledge of sarcoma genetics is increasing rapidly. Two general groups, sarcoma arising from chromosomal translocations and sarcoma with very complex genetics, can be identified. Genes that are frequently mutated in sarcoma include TP53, NF1, PIK3CA, HDAC1, IDH1 and 2, KDR, KIT and MED12. Genes that are frequently amplified in sarcoma include CDK4, YEATS4, HMGA2, MDM2, JUN, DNM3, FLT4, MYCN, MAP3K5, GLI1 and the microRNAs miR-214 and miR-199a2. Genes that are upregulated in sarcoma include MUC4, CD24, FOXL1, ANGPTL2, HIF1α, MDK, cMET, TIMP-2, PRL, PCSK1, IGFR-1, TIE1, KDR, TEK, FLT1 and several microRNAs. While some alterations occur in specific subtypes of sarcoma, others cross several sarcoma types. Discovering and developing new therapeutic approaches for these relentless diseases is critical. The detailed knowledge of sarcoma genetics may allow development of sarcoma subtype-targeted therapeutics.

Related: Soft Tissue Sarcomas


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Cite this page: Cotterill SJ. MUC4, Cancer Genetics Web: http://www.cancerindex.org/geneweb/MUC4.htm Accessed: date

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