The cluster of differentiation 34 (CD34) family, which includes CD34, podocalyxin-like protein 1 (PODXL), and PODXL2, are type-I transmembrane sialomucins and markers of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and vascular-associated tissues. CD34 family proteins are expressed by endothelial cells and hematopoietic precursors. PODXL is well known to be associated with invadopodia formation and to promote the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, tumor migration and invasion. PODXL expression was correlated with poor survival of cancer patients. However, the role of PODXL2 in cancer has been less fully explored. To reveal the novel role of PODXL2 in breast cancer, the present study evaluated PODXL2 levels in relation to clinical outcomes of cancer patients by performing a bioinformatics analysis using the Oncomine database, Kaplan-Meier plots, and the CCLE database. Empirical validation of bioinformatics predictions was conducted utilizing the short hairpin (sh)-RNA silencing method for PODXL2 in the BT474 invasive ductal breast carcinoma cell line. The bioinformatics analysis revealed that PODXL2 overexpression was correlated with poor survival of breast cancer patients, suggesting an oncogenic role of PODXL2 in breast carcinoma. In a validation experiment, knockdown of PODXL2 in BT474 cells slightly influenced cell proliferation, suppressed migration, and inhibited expressions of downstream molecules, including Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rac1), phosphorylated (p)-Akt (S473), and p-paxillin (Y31) proteins. In addition, knockdown of PODXL2 reduced expression levels of cancer stem cell (CSC) markers, including Oct-4 and Nanog, and the breast CSC marker aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1). Collectively, our present study demonstrated that PODXL2 plays a crucial role in cancer development and could serve as a potential prognostic biomarker in breast cancer patients.
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