Family members of the connective tissue growth factor, cysteine-rich 61, nephroblastoma over-expressed gene (CCN) encode cysteine-rich secreted proteins with roles in human fibrotic disorders and tumor progression. In this study, we identified a CCN family member, WISP1v, as over-expressed in human cholangiocarcinomas. Genetic analysis of WISP1v was performed on surgically resected specimens of cholangiocarcinoma. The WISP1v biological effects were analyzed using the HuCCT1 human cholangiocarcinoma cell line. The WISP1v gene was expressed in 19 of 39 cholangiocarcinoma tissues (49%) but not in normal livers. Expression of WISP1v was significantly associated with lymphatic and perineural invasion of tumor cells (P < .05), as well as a poor clinical prognosis (P < .01). In the intraductal papillary cholangiocarcinomas, WISP1v was detected only in the cases with duct wall invasion but not in the cases without duct wall invasion (P < .05). No mutation of WISP1v gene was detected in the examined samples. In vitro analysis revealed that WISP1v stimulated the invasive phenotype of cholangiocarcinoma cells with activation of both p38 and p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). Furthermore, WISP1v-induced cholangiocarcinoma invasion was significantly suppressed by the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 but not by the p42/p44 MAPK kinase (MEK) inhibitor PD98059. Our findings suggest that WISP1v-mediated signaling is involved in the generation of invasive cellular properties and leads to progression of cholangiocarcinoma.
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