Cancers (Dec 2021)

A Transgenic Model Reveals the Role of Klotho in Pancreatic Cancer Development and Paves the Way for New Klotho-Based Therapy

  • Tammi Arbel Rubinstein,
  • Inbal Reuveni,
  • Arkadi Hesin,
  • Anat Klein-Goldberg,
  • Hannes Olauson,
  • Tobias E. Larsson,
  • Carmela R. Abraham,
  • Ella Zeldich,
  • Assumpció Bosch,
  • Miguel Chillón,
  • Kenneth Samuel Hollander,
  • Ayelet Shabtay-Orbach,
  • Gilad W. Vainer,
  • Ido Wolf,
  • Tami Rubinek

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 13, no. 24
p. 6297


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Klotho is an anti-aging transmembrane protein, which can be shed and can function as a hormone. Accumulating data indicate that klotho is a tumor suppressor in a wide array of malignancies, and designate the subdomain KL1 as the active region of the protein towards this activity. We aimed to study the role of klotho as a tumor suppressor in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Bioinformatics analyses of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) datasets revealed a correlation between the survival of PDAC patients, levels of klotho expression, and DNA methylation, and demonstrated a unique hypermethylation pattern of klotho in pancreatic tumors. The in vivo effects of klotho and KL1 were examined using three mouse models. Employing a novel genetic model, combining pancreatic klotho knockdown with a mutation in Kras, the lack of klotho contributed to PDAC generation and decreased mousece survival. In a xenograft model, administration of viral particles carrying sKL, a spliced klotho isoform containing the KL1 domain, inhibited pancreatic tumors. Lastly, treatment with soluble sKL prolonged survival of Pdx1-Cre; KrasG12D/+;Trp53R172H/+ (KPC) mice, a model known to recapitulate human PDAC. In conclusion, this study provides evidence that klotho is a tumor suppressor in PDAC. Furthermore, these data suggest that the levels of klotho expression and DNA methylation could have prognostic value in PDAC patients, and that administration of exogenous sKL may serve as a novel therapeutic strategy to treat PDAC.