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Cellular & Molecular Biology Letters

Open Access

Ets-1 expression and gemcitabine chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer cells

  • Amit Khanna1, 3,
  • Kulandaivelu Mahalingam3,
  • Debarshi Chakrabarti2 and
  • Giridharan Periyasamy1Email author
Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201016:43

Received: 10 August 2010

Accepted: 10 December 2010

Published: 27 December 2010


Gemcitabine, a novel pyrimidine nucleoside analog, has become the standard chemotherapeutic agent for pancreatic cancer patients. The clinical impact of gemcitabine remains modest owing to the high degree of inherent and acquired resistance. There are various lines of evidence that confirm the role of Ets-1, a proto-oncoprotein, in tumor invasion, progression, and chemoresistance. This study examines a hypothesis that implicates Ets-1 in the development of gemcitabine-resistance in pancreatic cancer cells. Ets-1 protein expression was assessed in parental pancreatic cancer cells and their gemcitabine-resistant clones. Western blot analysis revealed elevated levels of Ets-1 protein expression in gemcitabine-resistant PANC1GemRes (4.8-fold increase; P < 0.05), MIA PaCa2GemRes (3.2-fold increase; P < 0.05), and Capan2GemRes (2.1-fold increase; P < 0.05) cells as compared to their parental counterparts. A time course analysis was conducted to determine the change in Ets-1 expression in the parental cells after incubation with gemcitabine. Reverse transcriptase quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) and Western blot analysis revealed a significant increase in Ets-1 expression. All the three parental cells incubated with gemcitabine showed elevated Ets-1 protein expression at 6 h. By 24 h, the expression level had decreased. Using small interfering RNA (siRNA) against Ets-1 in gemcitabine-resistant cells, we demonstrated a reversal in gemcitabine chemosensitivity and also detected a marked reduction in the expression of the Ets-1 target genes MMP1 and uPA. Our novel finding demonstrates the significance of Ets-1 in the development of gemcitabine chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer cells. Based on these results, a new siRNA-based therapeutic strategy targeting the Ets-1 genes can be designed to overcome chemoresistance.

Key words

GemcitabineEts-1MMP1uPAPANC1MIA PaCa2Capan2