Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide, primarily due to its rapid progression. The current treatment options for PDAC are limited, and a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms responsible for PDAC progression is required to identify improved therapeutic strategies. Here, we identified FBXO32 as an oncogenic driver in PDAC. FBXO32 was aberrantly upregulated in PDAC, and high FBXO32 expression was significantly associated with an unfavorable prognosis in PDAC patients. FRG1 deficiency promoted FBXO32 upregulation in PDAC. FBXO32 promoted cell migration and invasion in vitro and tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Mechanistically, FBXO32 directly interacted with eEF1A1 and promoted its polyubiquitination at the K273 site, leading to enhanced activity of eEF1A1 and increased protein synthesis in PDAC cells. Moreover, FBXO32-catalyzed eEF1A1 ubiquitination boosted the translation of ITGB5 mRNA and activated FAK signaling, thereby facilitating focal adhesion assembly and driving PDAC progression. Importantly, interfering with the FBXO32-eEF1A1 axis or pharmaceutical inhibition of FAK by defactinib, an FDA-approved FAK inhibitor, substantially inhibited PDAC growth and metastasis driven by aberrantly activated FBXO32-eEF1A1 signaling. Overall, this study uncovers a mechanism by which PDAC cells rely on FBXO32-mediated eEF1A1 activation to drive progression and metastasis. FBXO32 may serve as a promising biomarker for selecting eligible PDAC patients for treatment with defactinib.

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