Sialofucosylated Podocalyxin is a Functional E- and L-Selectin Ligand Expressed by Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer Cells.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


American journal of physiology. Cell physiology (2012)


Selectin-mediated interactions in the vasculature promote metastatic spread by facilitating circulating tumor cell binding to selectin-expressing host cells. Therefore, identifying the selectin ligand(s) on tumor cells is critical to the prevention of blood-borne metastasis. A current challenge is to distinguish between structures expressed by circulating tumor cells that can bind selectins in vitro from the functional ligands whose depletion suppresses selectin-dependent binding under flow in vivo. Interestingly, podocalyxin (PODXL), which can bind E- and L-selectin, is upregulated in a number of cancers, including those of the breast, colon, and pancreas. In this work, we show that metastatic pancreatic cancer cells overexpress PODXL compared to non-malignant pancreatic epithelial cells. We further demonstrate via tissue microarray that 69% of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas stain positive for PODXL. In cases of focal expression, positive staining is restricted to the invasive front of primary tumors. By combining immunoblot, immunodepletion, short-hairpin RNA-mediated gene silencing, and flow-based adhesion assays, we evaluated the functional role of sialofucosylated PODXL in selectin-mediated adhesion under flow. Our data indicate that sialofucosylated PODXL is a functional E- and L-selectin ligand expressed by metastatic pancreatic cancer cells, as specific depletion of this molecule from the cell surface significantly interferes with selectin-dependent interactions. Cumulatively, these data support a correlation between sialofucosylated PODXL expression and enhanced binding to selectins by metastatic pancreatic cancer cells and offer additional perspective on the upregulation of PODXL in aggressive cancers.