Apoptosis is one of the core signaling pathways disrupted in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). Death receptor 5 (DR5) is a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-receptor superfamily that is expressed in cancer cells. Binding of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) to DR5 is a potent trigger of the extrinsic apoptotic pathway, and numerous clinical trials are based on DR5-targeted therapies for cancer, including PDA. Human antigen R (HuR), an RNA-binding protein, regulates a select number of transcripts under stress conditions. Here we report that HuR translocates from the nucleus to the cytoplasm of PDA cells upon treatment with a DR5 agonist. High doses of DR5 agonist induce cleavage of both HuR and caspase 8. HuR binds to DR5 mRNA at the 5″-untranslated region (UTR) in PDA cells in response to different cancer-associated stressors and subsequently represses DR5 protein expression; silencing HuR augments DR5 protein production by enabling its translation and thus enhances apoptosis. In PDA specimens (n = 53), negative HuR cytoplasmic expression correlated with elevated DR5 expression (odds ratio 16.1, p < 0.0001). Together, these data demonstrate a feedback mechanism elicited by HuR-mediated repression of the key apoptotic membrane protein DR5.
- Pancreatic cancer
- Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
- Post-transcriptional regulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Cancer Research