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TSPAN1 promotes autophagy flux and mediates cooperation between WNT-CTNNB1 signaling and autophagy via the MIR454-FAM83A-TSPAN1 axis in pancreatic cancer

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posted on 13.10.2021, 19:21 by Cefan Zhou, Yanyan Liang, Li Zhou, Yanan Yan, Nanxi Liu, Rui Zhang, Yuan Huang, Ming Wang, Yongfei Tang, Declan William Ali, Yefu Wang, Marek Michalak, Xing-Zhen Chen, Jingfeng Tang

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive tumors associated with a poor clinical prognosis, weakly effective therapeutic options. Therefore, there is a strong impetus to discover new therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer. In the present study, we first demonstrated that TSPAN1 is upregulated in pancreatic cancer and that TSPAN1 depletion decreases pancreatic cancer cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. TSPAN1 expression was correlated with poor overall survival of pancreatic cancer patients. Moreover, we demonstrated that TSPAN1 is a novel positive regulator of macroautophagy/autophagy characterized by decreased LC3-II and SQSTM1/p62 expressions, inhibited puncta formation of GFP-LC3 and autophagic vacuoles. We also demonstrated that tspan1 mutation impaired autophagy in the zebrafish model. Furthermore, we showed that TSPAN1 promoted autophagy maturation via direct binding to LC3 by two conserved LIR motifs. Mutations in the LIR motifs of TSPAN1 resulted in a loss of the ability to induce autophagy and promote pancreatic cancer proliferation. Second, we discovered two conservative TCF/LEF binding elements present in the promoter region of the TSPAN1 gene, which was further verified through luciferase activity and ChIP assays. Furthermore, TSPAN1 was upregulated by FAM83A through the canonical WNT-CTNNB1 signaling pathway. We further demonstrated that both TSPAN1 and FAM83A are both direct targets of MIR454 (microRNA 454). Additionally, we revealed the role of MIR454-FAM83A-TSPAN1 in the proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Our findings suggest that components of the MIR454-FAM83A-TSPAN1 axis may be valuable prognosis markers or therapeutic targets for pancreatic cancer.

Abbreviations: AMPK: adenosine 5‘-monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase; APC: APC regulator of WNT signaling pathway; ATG: autophagy related; AXIN2: axin 2; BECN1: beclin 1; CCND1: cyclin D1; CSNK1A1/CK1α: casein kinase 1 alpha 1; CTNNB1/β-catenin: catenin beta 1; DAPI: 4ʹ6-diamino-2-phenylindole; EBSS: Earle’s balanced salt solution; EdU: 5-ethynyl-20-deoxyuridine; FAM83A: family with sequence similarity 83 member A; GAPDH: glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GFP: green fluorescent protein; GSEA: gene set enrichment analysis; GSK3B: glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta; IHC: immunohistochemical; LAMP1: lysosomal associated membrane protein 1; LIR: LC3-interacting region; MAP1LC3/LC3, microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MIR454: microRNA 454; miRNA: microRNA; MKI67: antigen identified by monoclonal antibody Ki 67; MTOR: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; MTT: 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide; MYC: MYC proto-oncogene, bHLH transcription factor; OS: overall survival; PDAC: pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; RAB7A: RAB7A, member RAS oncogene family; shRNA: short hairpin RNA; SQSTM1: sequestosome 1; TBE: TCF/LEF binding element; TCGA: The Cancer Genome Atlas; TCF/LEF: transcription factor/lymphoid enhancer binding factor; TCF4: transcription factor 4; TSPAN1: tetraspanin 1; TUNEL: terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP nick end labeling; UTR: untranslated region; WT: wild type.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871420 to J.F.T., 31701228 to C.F.Z., 31871176 to X.Z.C.), Wuhan Science and Technology Project (2019020701011475 to J.F.T).