Human anterior gradient homolog 2 (AGR2) reportedly acts as an oncogene in multiple types of cancers. As a secreted protein, the oncogenic roles of extracellular AGR2 have been the focus of the increasing number of studies. In contrast, the oncological functions of intracellular AGR2 (iAGR2) remain elusive. Here, we report that intracellular AGR2 (iAGR2) is sufficient to promote CRC metastasis. iAGR2 binds to KDEL receptors (KDELRs) via its KTEL motif to activate downstream Gs-PKA signaling. Activated PKA upregulates the expression of NF-κB subunit c-Rel (REL) and acetylates histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9ac) to promote the transcription of SNAIL and SLUG. AGR2 can be upregulated by prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) via EP4-PI3K-AKT pathway and is indispensable for PGE2-induced CRC metastasis. AGR2 knockdown enhances therapeutic effects of a COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib, in CRC metastasis. Collectively, our study reveals a promoting role and molecular mechanisms of iAGR2 in CRC metastasis and uncovers a new tumor microenvironment signal regulating AGR2 expression, which may provide new targets for treating metastatic CRC.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.