The therapeutic targeting of the FGFR1/Src/NF-κB signaling axis inhibits pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma stemness and oncogenicity

Shiue Wei Lai, Oluwaseun Adebayo Bamodu, Wen Chiuan Tsai, Yi Ming Chang, Wei Hwa Lee, Chi Tai Yeh, Tsu Yi Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The aberrant activation of the FGFR signaling is detected in many solid tumors, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), suggesting it as a potential therapeutic target. In this study, we investigated the antitumor and anti-metastasis efficacy of the selective FGFR1 inhibitor, PD173074 in PDAC. We used immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization analyses to demonstrate a strong correlation between FGFR1 amplification and/or expression and disease progression in PDAC patients. We showed that ALDHhigh (ALDH+) pancreatic cancer cells exhibited stem cell-like phenotype and expressed higher levels of FGFR1, Src, NF-κB, alongside stemness markers like Oct4 and Sox2, compared to their ALDHlow/null (ALDH−) counterparts, suggesting the preferential activation of the FGFR1/Src/NF-κB signaling axis in pancreatic cancer stem cells (panCSCs). Furthermore, treatment of the ALDHhigh/ FGFR1-rich pancreatic cancer cell lines with PD173074, a selective FGFR1 inhibitor, revealed that PD173074 inhibited the proliferation and self-renewal of the panCSCs, and induced their apoptosis by activating caspase-3 and cleaving Poly-ADP ribose Polymerase (PARP). The anti-CSCs effect of PD173074 was associated with decreased expression of Oct4, Sox-2, Nanog, and c-Myc, as well as suppression of XIAP, Bcl2, and survivin expression, dose-dependently. Additionally, activation of cMet, Src, ERK 1/2 and NFκB (p65) was also inhibited by PD173074. Also, of clinical relevance, the disruption of the FGFR1/Src/NF-κB signaling axis positively correlated with poor clinical prognosis among the PDAC patients. We concluded that PD173074 suppresses the tumorigenesis and CSCs-like phenotype of PDAC cells, highlighting its therapeutic efficacy and providing support for its potential use as a therapeutic option for the ‘difficult-to-treat’, ‘quick-to-relapse’ PDAC patients. Graphical Abstract: Schematic abstract showing how PD173074 inhibits PDAC growth through selective targeting of FGFR1, suppression of cancer stemness, disruption of the FGFR1/Src/NF-κB signaling axis and activation of the cell death signaling pathway. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-677
Number of pages15
JournalClinical and Experimental Metastasis
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018


  • ALDH
  • Cancer stem cells
  • FGFR1
  • FGFR1/Src/NF-κB signaling
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • PD173074
  • Selective inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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