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Ezrin promotes pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and invasion through activating the Akt/mTOR pathway and inducing YAP translocation

Authors Quan C, Sun J, Lin Z, Jin T, Dong B, Meng Z, Piao J

Received 21 January 2019

Accepted for publication 29 May 2019

Published 12 July 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 6553—6566

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S202342

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Rituraj Purohit


Chunji Quan,1,2,* Jie Sun,1,3,* Zhenhua Lin,1,3 Tiefeng Jin,1,3 Bing Dong,1,3 Ziqi Meng,1,3 Junjie Piao1,3

1Department of Pathology and Cancer Research Center, Yanbian University Medical College, Yanji 133002, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Pathology, Affiliated Hospital of Yanbian University, Yanji 133000, People’s Republic of China; 3Key Laboratory of the Science and Technology, Department of Jilin Province, Yanji 133002, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Ezrin and YAP are abnormally expressed in various cancers, and play pivotal roles in cancer initiation and development. However, the mechanisms of Ezrin in pancreatic cancer have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the functions and mechanisms of Ezrin in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer.
Methods: Effects of Ezrin deregulation on pancreatic cancer phenotype were determined in Capan-1 and BxPC-3 cells using MTT, colony formation, transwell, wound-healing, and chick chorioallantoic membrane assays. To find out the underlying mechanism of Ezrin, multiple assays were performed to detect the effect of Ezrin on Akt pathway activation and YAP expression. Then, Ezrin and YAP expression was analyzed in pancreatic cancer and normal pancreas samples. Finally, the prognostic value of Ezrin and YAP was evaluated in pancreatic cancer patients.
Results: Ezrin promoted proliferation, invasion, epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) progression, and angiogenesis of pancreatic cancers. Mechanistically, Ezrin activated Akt/mTOR pathways and induced YAP phosphorylation and nucleus translocation. The PI3K/Akt pathway inhibitor, rapamycin, and LY294002 could partially attenuate the effect of Ezrin on cell proliferation, invasion, EMT progression, and YAP phosphorylation and translocation. Moreover, both Ezrin and YAP were significantly overexpressed in pancreatic cancer tissues compared with adjacent normal pancreas, and correlated with poor prognosis in pancreatic cancer patients. Multivariate survival analysis showed that Ezrin was an independent prognostic marker for pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, the expression status of Ezrin and YAP had positive correlations in pancreatic cancer tissues.
Conclusion: Ezrin promoted pancreatic cancer proliferation, invasion, migration, and EMT progression, partially through activating the PI3K/Akt pathway, and also regulated YAP phosphorylation and translocation, partially through the PI3K/Akt pathway. Ezrin and YAP were significantly overexpressed in pancreatic cancers, and correlated with poor prognosis in pancreatic cancer patients.

Keywords: Ezrin, YAP, PI3K/Akt pathway, pancreatic cancer, survival

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