Pancreatic cancer stem cells (CSCs) play a crucial role in tumorigenesis and chemoresistance of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma up-regulated factor (PAUF), a novel secretory protein, has been shown to contribute to cancer progression and metastasis. Because the clinical relationship between PAUF and pancreatic CSCs is largely unknown, we investigated the associations between the functional role of PAUF and pancreatic CSCs. Pancreatic cancer sphere cultured from the CFPAC-1 cells showed elevated expression of PAUF and pluripotent stemness genes (Oct4, Nanog, Stat3, and Sox2), and the mRNA of PAUF were increased in CD44+CD24+ESA+ pancreatic CSCs. PAUF knockdown (shPAUF) CFPAC-1 diminished the number of spheres and decreased stemness genes and CSC surface markers (CD133, c-MET and ALDH1). In addition, siPAUF CFPAC-1 decreased the mRNA expression of multidrug resistant protein 5 (MRP5) and ribonucleotide reductase M2 (RRM2) and were more vulnerable to gemcitabine and 5-FU than negative control (p < 0.05). In conclusion, PAUF was increased in pancreatic CSCs and the suppression of PAUF enhances chemotherapeutic response to gemcitabine and 5FU by decreasing MRP5 and RRM2 in pancreatic cancer cells.
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