B7-H4 enhances oncogenicity and inhibits apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells
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B7-H4 is expressed in a variety of tumor cells and functions as a negative regulator of T cells. However, clarification is needed as to whether B7-H4 mediates tumorigenesis through mechanisms, such as apoptosis, in addition to mediating tumor immune escape. We investigate the mechanisms involved in enhanced oncogenicity and the inhibition of apoptosis by B7-H4 in pancreatic cancer cells. Short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) specific for B7-H4 were evaluated for their ability to knockdown B7-H4 mRNA and protein expression in pancreatic cancer cells and the most effective siRNA was selected for investigating the effect of B7-H4 gene silencing in a number of functional assays. The inhibition of B7-H4 increased cell-cell adhesion and decreased the formation of pseudopodia. It also increased the expression of E-cadherin and decreased the expression of vimentin and CD44. B7-H4 siRNA inhibited cell proliferation, colony formation and migration of pancreatic cancer cells. Moreover, increased apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells following B7-H4 silencing was demonstrated in vitro by using flow cytometry and in a xenograft tumor model and was associated with increased caspase activity and decreased Erk1/2 phosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo. Loss of B7-H4 function thus prevents tumor growth through many processes, including the induction of apoptosis and inhibition of the Erk1/2 signaling pathway indicating that B7-H4 is a cancer promoter and a potentially important therapeutic target. B7-H4 inhibition might offer an exciting opportunity to inhibit the progression of human pancreatic cancers.
KeywordsB7-H4 Pancreatic cancer Apoptosis Mitogen-activated protein kinases Oncogenicity Cell culture
The authors declare no conflicts of interest related to the publication of this work.
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