BACKGROUND. High mobility group AT-hook 1 (HMGA1) proteins are architectural transcription factors that are overexpressed by pancreatic adenocarcinomas. The authors hypothesized that tumor HMGA1 status represents a novel prognostic marker in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. They also tested the hypothesis that HMGA1 promotes anchorage-independent cellular proliferation and in vivo tumorigenicity. METHODS. Tumor HMGA1 expression was examined by immunohistochemical analysis of tissues from 89 consecutive patients who underwent resection for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Short-hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated RNA interference was used to silence HMGA1 expression in MiaPaCa2 and PANC1 pancreatic cancer cells. Anchorage-independent proliferation was assessed by using soft agar assays. The roles of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling were investigated by using specific inhibitors and adenoviral dominant-negative/active Akt constructs. In vivo tumorigenicity was assessed by using a nude mouse xenograft model. RESULTS. Tumor HMGA1 expression was detected in 93% of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Patients with HMGA1-negative tumors had a significantly longer median survival than patients with HMGA1-expressing cancers in univariate analysis (P = .0028) and in multivariate analysis (P<05). shRNA-mediated HMGA1 silencing resulted in significant reductions in anchorage-independent proliferation in soft agar. Forced HMGA1 overexpression promoted proliferation in soft agar through a process that was dependent on PI3-K/Akt-activited signaling, but not on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK)/ERK signaling. Targeted silencing of HMGA1 reduced tumor growth in vivo through reduced proliferation (Ki-67 index) and increased apoptosis (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase nick-end labeling). CONCLUSIONS. The current findings suggested that HMGA1 is an independent predictor of poor postoperative survival in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Furthermore, HMGA1 promotes tumorigenicity through a PI3-K/Akt-dependent mechanism. HMGA1 warrants further evaluation as a prognostic marker and therapeutic target in pancreatic cancer.
- Extracellular signal-regulated kinase
- High mobility group AT-hook 1
- Pancreatic adenocarcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research