Dermcidin expression is associated with disease progression and survival among breast cancer patients
Dermcidin is a candidate oncogene capable of increasing the number of cultured neuronal, breast cancer and prostate cancer cells and improving the survival of hepatic cells. The dermcidin gene encodes the proteolysis-inducing factor core peptide (PIF-CP) and the skin antimicrobial peptide DCD-1. The peptide responsible for inducing proliferation of cells and the mechanisms involved are unknown. In this study, we confirmed a proliferative effect of dermcidin overexpression of 20% (p<0.02) in the HuH7 human hepatic cell line. Proliferation was abrogated by prevention of PIF-CP translation or inactivation of its calcineurin-like phosphatase domain by site-directed mutagenesis. Prevention of DCD-1 translation had no effect. Treatment of cells with a 30 amino acid synthetic PIF-CP induced an analogous increase in proliferation of 14%. Microarray analysis of PIF-CP-treated cells revealed low but significant changes in 111 potential mediator genes. Pathway analysis revealed several gene networks involved in the cellular response to the peptide, one with VEGFB as a hub and two other networks converging on FOS and MYC. Quantitative PCR confirmed direct upregulation of VEGFB. These data reveal PIF-CP as the key mediator of dermcidin-induced proliferation and demonstrate induction of key oncogenic pathways.