Cdk4/6 inhibition induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition and enhances invasiveness in pancreatic cancer cells

Fang Liu, Murray Korc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations


Aberrant activation of Cyclin D-Cdk4/6 signaling pathway is commonly found in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Here, we show that PD-0332991, a highly specific inhibitor for Cdk4 and Cdk6, exerted growth inhibitory effects on three human PDAC cell lines. Microarray analysis revealed that PD-0332991 downregulated cell-cycle-related genes, but upregulated genes implicated in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and pancreatic cancer cell invasion and metastasis. Moreover, PD-0332991 enhanced invasion in TGF-β-responsive PDAC cell lines that harbor a wild-type SMAD4 gene (COLO-357, PANC-1), but not in TGF-β-resistant AsPC-1 cells that harbor a mutated SMAD4. PD-0332991 also induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in COLO-357 and PANC-1, but not in AsPC-1 cells. Inhibition of CDK4/6 using shRNA mimicked the effects of PD-0332991 on EMT induction. Furthermore, PD-0332991 increased Smad transcriptional activity in luciferase readout assays and activated TGF-β signaling. SB-505124, an inhibitor of the type-I TGF-β receptor (TβRI) kinase, completely blocked EMT induction by PD-0332991. When combined with PD-0332991, SB-505124 inhibited the growth of COLO-357 and PANC-1 cells. Taken together, these data suggest that anti-Cdk4/6 therapy could induce EMT and enhance pancreatic cancer cell invasion by activating Smad-dependent TGF-β signaling, and that combining PD-0332991 and SB-505124 may represent a novel therapeutic strategy in PDAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2138-2148
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this