ROCK signaling promotes collagen remodeling to facilitate invasive pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma tumor cell growth
Authors listNicola Rath Jennifer P Morton Linda Julian Lena Helbig Shereen Kadir Ewan J McGhee Kurt Anderson Gabriela Kalna Margaret Mullin Andreia V Pinho Ilse Rooman Michael S Samuel Michael F Olson
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a major cause of cancer death; identifying PDAC enablers may reveal potential therapeutic targets. Expression of the actomyosin regulatory ROCK1 and ROCK2 kinases increased with tumor progression in human and mouse pancreatic tumors, while elevated ROCK1/ROCK2 expression in human patients, or conditional ROCK2 activation in a Kras/p53 mouse PDAC model, was associated with reduced survival. Conditional ROCK1 or ROCK2 activation promoted invasive growth of mouse PDAC cells into three-dimensional collagen matrices by increasing matrix remodeling activities. RNA sequencing revealed a coordinated program of ROCK-induced genes that facilitate extracellular matrix remodeling, with greatest fold-changes for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) Mmp10 and Mmp13 MMP inhibition not only decreased collagen degradation and invasion, but also reduced proliferation in three-dimensional contexts. Treatment of Kras/p53 PDAC mice with a ROCK inhibitor prolonged survival, which was associated with increased tumor-associated collagen. These findings reveal an ancillary role for increased ROCK signaling in pancreatic cancer progression to promote extracellular matrix remodeling that facilitates proliferation and invasive tumor growth.