Deletion of NEMO Inhibits EMT and Reduces Metastasis in KPC Mice

Tsesmelis, M., Tiwary, K., Steiger, K., Sperb, N., Gerstenlauer, M., Manfras, U., Maier, H. J., Hermann, P. C., Chan, L. K., and Wirth, T. (2021). Cancers (Basel) 13. doi: 10.3390/cancers13184541


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains a largely incurable cancer type. Its high mortality is attributed to the lack of efficient biomarkers for early detection combined with its high metastatic properties. The aim of our study was to investigate the role of NF-κB signaling in the development and metastasis of PDAC. We used the well-established KPC mouse model, and, through genetic manipulation, we deleted NF-κB essential modulator (NEMO) in the pancreata of KPC mice. Interestingly, NEMO deletion altered the differentiation status of the primary tumor but did not significantly affect its development. However, in the absence of NEMO, the median survival of the mice was prolonged by 13.5 days (16%). In addition, examination of the liver demonstrated that, whereas KPC mice occasionally developed liver macro-metastasis, NEMO deletion completely abrogated this outcome. Further analysis of the tumor revealed that the expression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) transcription factors was diminished in the absence of NEMO. Conclusively, our study provides evidence that NF-κB is dispensable for the progression of high-grade PanINs towards PDAC. In contrast, NF-κB signaling is essential for the development of metastasis by regulating the gene expression program of EMT.