Research ArticleCANCER

ACSL3–PAI-1 signaling axis mediates tumor-stroma cross-talk promoting pancreatic cancer progression

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Science Advances  30 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 44, eabb9200
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb9200


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by marked fibrosis and low immunogenicity, features that are linked to treatment resistance and poor clinical outcomes. Therefore, understanding how PDAC regulates the desmoplastic and immune stromal components is of great clinical importance. We found that acyl-CoA synthetase long-chain 3 (ACSL3) is up-regulated in PDAC and correlates with increased fibrosis. Our in vivo results show that Acsl3 knockout hinders PDAC progression, markedly reduces tumor fibrosis and tumor-infiltrating immunosuppressive cells, and increases cytotoxic T cell infiltration. This effect is, at least in part, due to decreased plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 (PAI-1) secretion from tumor cells. Accordingly, PAI-1 expression in PDAC positively correlates with markers of fibrosis and immunosuppression and predicts poor patient survival. We found that PAI-1 pharmacological inhibition strongly enhances chemo- and immunotherapeutic response against PDAC, increasing survival of mice. Thus, our results unveil ACSL3–PAI-1 signaling as a requirement for PDAC progression with druggable attributes.

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