FAK promotes stromal PD-L2 expression associated with poor survival in pancreatic cancer

Catherine Davidson, David Taggart, Andrew H Sims, David W Lonergan, Marta Canel, Alan Serrels*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output


Pancreatic Cancer is one of the most lethal cancers, with less than 8% of patients surviving 5 years following diagnosis. The last 40 years have seen only small incremental improvements in treatment options, highlighting the continued need to better define the cellular and molecular pathways contributing to therapy response and patient prognosis.


We combined CRISPR, shRNA and flow cytometry with mechanistic experiments using a KrasG12Dp53R172H mouse model of pancreatic cancer and analysis of publicly available human PDAC transcriptomic datasets.


Here, we identify that expression of the immune checkpoint, Programmed Death Ligand 2 (PD-L2), is associated with poor prognosis, tumour grade, clinical stage and molecular subtype in patients with Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We further show that PD-L2 is predominantly expressed in the stroma and, using an orthotopic murine model of PDAC, identify cancer cell-intrinsic Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) signalling as a regulator of PD-L2 stromal expression. Mechanistically, we find that FAK regulates interleukin-6, which can act in concert with interleukin-4 secreted by CD4 T-cells to drive elevated expression of PD-L2 on tumour-associated macrophages, dendritic cells and endothelial cells.


These findings identify further complex heterocellular signalling networks contributing to FAK-mediated immune suppression in pancreatic cancer.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Early online date22 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sept 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'FAK promotes stromal PD-L2 expression associated with poor survival in pancreatic cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this