p21-activated kinase 3 is overexpressed in thymic neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoids) with ectopic ACTH syndrome and participates in cell migration

Rui-xin Liu, Wei-qing Wang, Lei Ye, Yu-fang Bi, Hai Fang, Bin Cui, Wei-wei Zhou, Meng Dai, Ji Zhang, Xiao-ying Li, Guang Ning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Thymic carcinoid is an important component of the tumor spectrum causing Ectopic ACTH Syndrome (EAS) and usually carries a poor prognosis. Efforts have been focused on exploring the mechanism of the excessive ACTH production in non-pituitary tumors, whereas few studies have reported the molecular events underlying the tumor progression. In this study, seven patients with ACTH producing thymic carcinoids were enrolled. Of note is that five of them showed either lymph node metastasis, local invasion or distant metastasis. By using cDNA profiling approach, we evaluated the expression of cell adhesion pathway genes and found a remarkable overexpression of p21-activated kinase 3 (PAK3) in all thymic carcinoids which was further confirmed at both transcriptional and translational level. RAC1, an upstream activator of PAK3, was also overexpressed in thymic carcinoids. Overexpression of PAK3 in NIH3T3 cell enhanced cell migration and invasion. Importantly, we observed c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) was activated in PAK3 transfected cells, and inhibition of JNK activity by SP600125, a JNK pathway inhibitor, abolished PAK3 mediated cell migration. Activation of JNK pathway was also detected in thymic carcinoid with high level of PAK3 expression. Our findings suggested a potential role of PAK3 in the progression of ACTH-producing thymic carcinoid.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-47
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • Cell Movement
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • p21-Activated Kinases
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Thymus Neoplasms
  • Carcinoid Tumor
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • ACTH Syndrome, Ectopic


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