Gastric cancer (GC) is the second most common cause of cancer-related death with limited serum biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis. Netrin-4 (Ntn4) is a laminin-related secreted molecule found to regulate tumor progression and metastasis. However, it is completely unknown whether Ntn4 has roles in GC development. Here, we first reported Ntn4 knockdown significantly suppressed cell proliferation and motility, while overexpression or addition of exogenous Ntn4 reversed these effects. In addition, Ntn4 receptor, neogenin (Neo) was also found highly expressed in GC cells and mediated the Ntn4-induced cell proliferation and invasion. Moreover, Ntn4 or Neo silencing decreased the phosphorylation of Stat3, ERK, Akt and p38, indicating multioncogenic pathways (Jak/Stat, PI3K/Akt, and ERK/MAPK) were involved in Ntn4-induced effects on the GC cells. Importantly, Ntn4 level was significantly increased in 82 tumor tissues (p = 0.001) and 52 serum samples (p < 0.0001) from GC patients and positively correlated with Neo expression (p = 0.003). Ntn4 expression was negatively correlated with the survival period (p = 0.038), and positively associated with the severity of pathological stages of the tumors (p = 0.008). Taken together, Ntn4 promoted the proliferation and motility of GC cells which was mediated by its receptor Neo and through further activation of multi-oncogenic pathways. Elevated Ntn4 was detected in both tumor tissues and serum samples of GC patients and suggested a relatively poor survival, indicating Ntn4 may be used as a potential noninvasive biomarker for diagnosis and prognosis of GC.
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