MUC5AC interactions with integrin β4 enhances the migration of lung cancer cells through FAK signaling

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Abstract

MUC5AC is a secretory mucin aberrantly expressed in various cancers. In lung cancer, MUC5AC is overexpressed in both primary and metastatic lesions; however, its functional role is not well understood. The present study was aimed at evaluating mechanistic role of MUC5AC on metastasis of lung cancer cells. Clinically, the overexpression of MUC5AC was observed in lung cancer patient tissues and was associated with poor survival. In addition, the overexpression of Muc5ac was also observed in genetically engineered mouse lung adenocarcinoma tissues (KrasG12D; Trp53R172H/+; AdCre) in comparison with normal lung tissues. Our functional studies showed that MUC5AC knockdown resulted in significantly decreased migration in two lung cancer cell lines (A549 and H1437) as compared with scramble cells. Expression of integrins (α5, β1, β3, β4 and β5) was decreased in MUC5AC knockdown cells. As both integrins and MUC5AC have a von Willebrand factor domain, we assessed for possible interaction of MUC5AC and integrins in lung cancer cells. MUC5AC strongly interacted only with integrin β4. The co-localization of MUC5AC and integrin β4 was observed both in A549 lung cancer cells as well as genetically engineered mouse adenocarcinoma tissues. Activated integrins recruit focal adhesion kinase (FAK) that mediates metastatic downstream signaling pathways. Phosphorylation of FAK (Y397) was decreased in MUC5AC knockdown cells. MUC5AC/integrin β4/FAK-mediated lung cancer cell migration was confirmed through experiments utilizing a phosphorylation (Y397)-specific FAK inhibitor. In conclusion, overexpression of MUC5AC is a poor prognostic marker in lung cancer. MUC5AC interacts with integrin β4 that mediates phosphorylation of FAK at Y397 leading to lung cancer cell migration.

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