K-Ras promotes angiogenesis mediated by immortalized human pancreatic epithelial cells through mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways

Yoichi Matsuo, Paul M. Campbell, Rolf A. Brekken, Bokyung Sung, Michel M. Ouellette, Jason B. Fleming, Bharat B. Aggarwal, Channing J. Der, Sushovan Guha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


Activating point mutations in the K-Ras oncogene are among the most common genetic alterations in pancreatic cancer, occurring early in the progression of the disease. However, the function of mutant K-Ras activity in tumor angiogenesis remains poorly understood. Using human pancreatic duct epithelial (HPDE) and K-Ras4BG12V-transformed HPDE (HPDE-KRas) cells, we show that activated K-Ras significantly enhanced the production of angiogenic factors including CXC chemokines and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Western blot analysis revealed that K-Ras activation promoted the phosphorylation of Raf/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase-1/2 (MEK1/2) and expression of c-Jun. MEK1/2 inhibitors, U0126 and PD98059, significantly inhibited the secretion of both CXC chemokines and VEGF, whereas the c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase inhibitor SP600125 abrogated only CXC chemokine production. To further elucidate the biological functions of oncogenic K-Ras in promoting angiogenesis, we did in vitro invasion and tube formation assays using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). HUVEC cocultured with HPDE-KRas showed significantly enhanced invasiveness and tube formation as compared with either control (without coculture) or coculture with HPDE. Moreover, SB225002 (a CXCR2 inhibitor) and 2C3 (an anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody) either alone or in a cooperative manner significantly reduced the degree of both Ras-dependent HUVEC invasiveness and tube formation. Similar results were obtained using another pair of immortalized human pancreatic duct-derived cells, E6/E7/st and its oncogenic K-Ras variant, E6/E7/Ras/st. Taken together, our results suggest that angiogenesis is initiated by paracrine epithelial secretion of CXC chemokines and VEGF downstream of activated oncogenic K-Ras, and that this vascular maturation is in part dependent on MEK1/2 and c-Jun signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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