Prognostic and functional significance of MAP4K5 in pancreatic cancer

Oliver H. Wang, Nancy Azizian, Ming Guo, Michela Capello, Defeng Deng, Fenglin Zang, Jason Fry, Matthew H. Katz, Jason B. Fleming, Jeffrey E. Lee, Robert A. Wolff, Samir Hanash, Huamin Wang, Anirban Maitra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: MAP4K5 plays an important role in regulating a range of cellular responses and is involved in Wnt signaling in hematopoietic cells. However, its functions in human malignancies have not been studied. The major objectives of this study are to examine the expression, functions and clinical significance of MAP4K5 in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Materials and Methods: The expression levels of MAP4K5, E-cadherin, vimentin, and carboxylesterase 2 (CES2) were examined by immunohistochemistry in 105 PDAC and matched non-neoplastic pancreas samples from our institution. The RNA sequencing data of 112 PDAC patients were downloaded from the TCGA data portal. Immunoblotting and RNA sequencing analysis were used to examine the expression of MAP4K5 and E-cadherin in pancreatic cancer cell lines. The effect of knockdown MAP4K5 using siRNA on the expression of CDH1 and vimentin were examined by Real-time RT-PCR in Panc-1 and AsPC-1 cells. Statistical analyses were performed using IBM SPSS Statistics. Results: MAP4K5 protein is expressed at high levels specifically in the pancreatic ductal cells of 100% non-neoplastic pancreas samples, but is decreased or lost in 77.1% (81/105) of PDAC samples. MAP4K5-low correlated with the loss of E-cadherin (P = 0.001) and reduced CES2 expression (P = 0.002) in our patient populations. The expression levels of MAP4K5 mRNA directly correlated with the expression levels of CDH1 mRNA (R = 0.2490, P = 0.008) in the second cohort of 112 PDAC patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) RNA-seq dataset. Similar correlations between the expression of MAP4K5 and E-cadherin were observed both at protein and mRNA levels in multiple pancreatic cancer cell lines. Knockdown MAP4K5 led to decreased CDH1 mRNA expression in Panc-1 and AsPC-1 cells. MAP4K5-low correlated significantly with reduced overall survival and was an independent prognosticator in patients with stage II PDAC. Conclusions: MAP4K5 expression is decreased or lost in majority of PDACs. The strong associations between low MAP4K5 expression and loss of E-cadherin, reduced CES2 expression and decreased overall survival may suggest an important role of MAP4K5 in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, chemotherapy resistance and tumor progression in pancreatic cancer. Targeting impaired MAP4K5 signaling may represent a new therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0152300
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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