Background FAM172A, as a newly discovered gene, is little known in cancer development, especially in pancreatic cancer (PC).

Methods We investigated the potential role and molecular mechanism of FAM172A in epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in both human clinical samples and PC cells.

Results FAM172A was downregulated in human PC tissues compared with that in adjacent pancreas by IHC and qRT-PCR. FAM172A expression was negatively associated with tumor size (P=0.015), T stage (P=0.006), lymph nodes metastase (P=0.028) and the worse prognosis of PC patients (P=0.004). Meanwhile, a positive relationship between FAM172A and E-cadherin (E-cad) (r=0.381, P=0.002) was observed in clinical samples which contributed to the better prognosis of PC patients (P=0.014). FAM172A silencing induced EMT in both AsPC-1 and BxPC-3 cells, including inducing the increase of Vimentin, MMP9 and pERK and the decrease of E-cad and β-catenin expression, stimulating EMT-like cell morphology and enhancing cell invasion and migration in PC cells. However, MEK1 inhibitor PD98059 reversed FAM172A silencing-enhanced EMT in PC cells.

Conclusion FAM172A inhibits EMT of PC cells via ERK-MAPK signaling.

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