In vitro modeling of human pancreatic duct epithelial cell transformation defines gene expression changes induced by K-ras oncogenic activation in pancreatic carcinogenesis

Jiaying Qian, Jiangong Niu, Ming Li, Paul J Chiao, Ming-Sound Tsao
Cancer Research 2005 June 15, 65 (12): 5045-53
Genetic analysis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas and their putative precursor lesions, pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanIN), has shown a multistep molecular paradigm for duct cell carcinogenesis. Mutational activation or inactivation of the K-ras, p16(INK4A), Smad4, and p53 genes occur at progressive and high frequencies in these lesions. Oncogenic activation of the K-ras gene occurs in >90% of pancreatic ductal carcinoma and is found early in the PanIN-carcinoma sequence, but its functional roles remain poorly understood. We show here that the expression of K-ras(G12V) oncogene in a near diploid HPV16-E6E7 gene immortalized human pancreatic duct epithelial cell line originally derived from normal pancreas induced the formation of carcinoma in 50% of severe combined immunodeficient mice implanted with these cells. A tumor cell line established from one of these tumors formed ductal cancer when implanted orthotopically. These cells also showed increased activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase, AKT, and nuclear factor-kappaB pathways. Microarray expression profiling studies identified 584 genes whose expression seemed specifically up-regulated by the K-ras oncogene expression. Forty-two of these genes have been reported previously as differentially overexpressed in pancreatic cancer cell lines or primary tumors. Real-time PCR confirmed the overexpression of a large number of these genes. Immunohistochemistry done on tissue microarrays constructed from PanIN and pancreatic cancer samples showed laminin beta3 overexpression starting in high-grade PanINs and occurring in >90% of pancreatic ductal carcinoma. The in vitro modeling of human pancreatic duct epithelial cell transformation may provide mechanistic insights on gene expression changes that occur during multistage pancreatic duct cell carcinogenesis.

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