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Transgelin is a known actin-binding protein, which plays a role in regulating the functions of smooth muscle cells or fibroblasts. Recent evidence indicates that transgelin is involved in diverse human cancers, yet its role in pancreatic cancer remains unclear. We therefore evaluated the expression characteristics and function of transgelin in pancreatic cancer. Immunohistochemical analysis of benign (n = 30 patients) and malignant (n = 114 patients) pancreatic ductal cells showed significantly higher transgelin staining in malignant cells. Lymph node metastasis (= 0.026) and diabetes (P = 0.041) were shown to significantly correlate with transgelin protein expression. Patients with high transgelin expression showed a shorter 5-year overall survival and a lower tumor-specific survival than those with low transgelin expression. Multivariate analysis revealed that transgelin was an independent factor affecting pancreatic tumor-specific survival (= 0.025). In vitro, RNA interference-mediated transgelin knockdown resulted in inhibition of pancreatic cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion. Depletion of transgelin expression could suppress pancreatic tumorigenicity and tumor growth in vivo, and produce enhanced cytotoxic effects of gemcitabine on pancreatic cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. Our results indicate that transgelin plays a promoting role in tumor progression, and appears to be a novel prognostic marker for advanced pancreatic cancer.