Increased Stiffness Downregulates Focal Adhesion Kinase Expression in Pancreatic Cancer Cells Cultured in 3D Self-Assembling Peptide Scaffolds

Nausika Betriu, Anna Andreeva, Anna Alonso, Carlos E. Semino

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Resum

The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase that participates in integrin-mediated signal transduction and contributes to different biological processes, such as cell migration, survival, proliferation and angiogenesis. Moreover, FAK can be activated by autophosphorylation at position Y397 and trigger different signaling pathways in response to increased extracellular matrix stiffness. In addition, FAK is overexpressed and/or hyperactivated in many epithelial cancers, and its expression correlates with tumor malignancy and invasion potential. One of the characteristics of solid tumors is an over deposition of ECM components, which generates a stiff microenvironment that promotes, among other features, sustained cell proliferation and survival. Researchers are, therefore, increasingly developing cell culture models to mimic the increased stiffness associated with these kinds of tumors. In the present work, we have developed a new 3D in vitro model to study the effect of matrix stiffness in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells as this kind of tumor is characterized by a desmoplastic stroma and an increased stiffness compared to its normal counterpart. For that, we have used a synthetic self-assembling peptide nanofiber matrix, RAD16-I, which does not suffer a significant degradation in vitro, thus allowing to maintain the same local stiffness along culture time. We show that increased matrix stiffness in synthetic 3D RAD16-I gels, but not in collagen type I scaffolds, promotes FAK downregulation at a protein level in all the cell lines analyzed. Moreover, even though it has classically been described that stiff 3D matrices promote an increase in pFAKY397/FAK proteins, we found that this ratio in soft and stiff RAD16-I gels is cell-type-dependent. This study highlights how cell response to increased matrix stiffness greatly depends on the nature of the matrix used for 3D culture.

Idioma originalAnglès
Número d’article1835
RevistaBiomedicines
Volum10
Número8
DOIs
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - d’ag. 2022

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