Integrin α6β4 promotes migration, invasion through Tiam1 upregulation, and subsequent Rac activation

Zobeida Cruz-Monserrate, Kathleen L. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The lethality of pancreatic adenocarcinoma stems from an elevated incidence of tumor cell invasion and metastasis that are mediated by mechanisms not yet understood. Recent studies indicate that the proinvasive integrin α6β4 is highly upregulated in pancreatic adenocarcinomas. To assess the importance of this integrin in pancreatic cancer cell migration and invasion, cell lines were screened for integrin α6β4 expression by immunoblotting and fluorescence-activated cell sorting and their ability to migrate and invade toward hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). We found that cell surface expression of the α6β4 integrin correlated with the cells' ability to migrate and invade toward HGF. When cells expressing high levels of integrin α6β4 were treated with small interfering RNA targeting α6 or β4 integrin subunits, we observed a reduction in cell migration and invasion. Furthermore, the activity of the small GTPase Rac1 was stimulated by α6β4 integrin expression and was necessary for HGF-stimulated chemotaxis. We discovered that expression of the Rac-specific nucleotide exchange factor, Tiam1 (T-lymphoma invasion and metastasis), was upregulated in cells overexpressing the integrin α6β4 and required for the elevated Rac1 activity in these cells. We conclude that the integrin α6β4 promotes the migratory and invasive phenotype of pancreatic carcinoma cells through the Tiam1-Rac1 pathway in part through the upregulation of Tiam1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-417
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Abbreviations: FACS, fluorescence-activated cell sorting; GEF, guanine nucleotide exchange factor; HGF, hepatocyte growth factor; PI3-K, phosphoinositol-3-kinase; siRNA, small interfering RNA; Tiam1, T-lymphoma invasion and metastasis Address all correspondence to: Kathleen L. O’Connor, PhD, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-0525, USA. E-mail: 1This study was supported by National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, grants R21 CA102125 and R01 CA109136 (K.L.O.) and F31 CA106201 (Z.C.M.). 2This article refers to supplementary materials, which are designated by Figures W1 and W2 and are available online at Received 21 December 2007; Revised 18 February 2008; Accepted 25 February 2008 Copyright © 2008 Neoplasia Press, Inc. All rights reserved 1522-8002/08/$25.00 DOI 10.1593/neo.07868

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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