Cancer Cell–Derived Matrisome Proteins Promote Metastasis in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Cancer Research, Volume 80, Issue 7, p.1461 - 1474 (2020)



The prognosis for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains poor despite decades of effort. The abundant extracellular matrix (ECM) in PDAC comprises a major fraction of the tumor mass and plays various roles in promoting resistance to therapies. However, non-selective depletion of ECM has led to poor patient outcomes. Consistent with that observation, we previously showed that individual matrisome proteins derived from stromal cells correlate with either long or short patient survival. In marked contrast, those derived from cancer cells correlate strongly with poor survival. Here we studied three cancer-cell-derived matrisome proteins that are significantly overrepresented during PDAC progression; AGRN (agrin), SERPINB5 (serine protease inhibitor B5), and CSTB (cystatin B). Using both overexpression and knockdown experiments, we demonstrate that all three are promoters of PDAC metastasis. Furthermore, these proteins operate at different metastatic steps. AGRN promoted EMT in primary tumors, whereas SERPINB5 and CSTB enhanced late steps in the metastatic cascade by elevating invadopodia formation and in vivo extravasation. All three genes were associated with a poor prognosis in human patients and high levels of SERPINB5, secreted by cancer cells and deposited in the ECM, correlated with poor patient prognosis. This study provides strong evidence that cancer-cell-derived matrisome proteins can be causal in promoting tumorigenesis and metastasis and lead to poor patient survival. Therefore, compared with the bulk matrix, mostly made by stromal cells, precise interventions targeting cancer-cell-derived matrisome proteins, such as AGRN, SERPINB5, and CSTB, may represent preferred potential therapeutic targets.