Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is associated with a pronounced collagen-rich stromal reaction that has been shown to contribute to chemo-resistance. We have previously shown that PDAC cells are resistant to gemcitabine chemotherapy in the collagen microenvironment because of increased expression of the chromatin remodeling protein high mobility group A2 (HMGA2). We have now found that human PDAC tumors display higher levels of histone H3K9 and H3K27 acetylation in fibrotic regions. We show that relative to cells grown on tissue culture plastic, PDAC cells grown in three-dimensional collagen gels demonstrate increased histone H3K9 and H3K27 acetylation, along with increased expression of p300, PCAF and GCN5 histone acetyltransferases (HATs). Knocking down HMGA2 attenuates the effect of collagen on histone H3K9 and H3K27 acetylation and on collagen-induced p300, PCAF and GCN5 expression. We also show that human PDAC tumors with HMGA2 demonstrate increased histone H3K9 and H3K27 acetylation. Additionally, we show that cells in three-dimensional collagen gels demonstrate increased protection against gemcitabine. Significantly, down-regulation of HMGA2 or p300, PCAF and GCN5 HATs sensitizes the cells to gemcitabine in three-dimensional collagen. Overall, our results increase our understanding of how the collagen microenvironment contributes to chemo-resistance in vitro and identify HATs as potential therapeutic targets against this deadly cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)