Duct- and Acinar-Derived Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinomas Show Distinct Tumor Progression and Marker Expression.
ABSTRACT: The cell of origin of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has been controversial. Here, we show that identical oncogenic drivers trigger PDAC originating from both ductal and acinar cells with similar histology but with distinct pathophysiology and marker expression dependent on cell of origin. Whereas acinar-derived tumors exhibited low AGR2 expression and were preceded by pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanINs), duct-derived tumors displayed high AGR2 and developed independently of a PanIN stage via non-mucinous lesions. Using orthotopic transplantation and chimera experiments, we demonstrate that PanIN-like lesions can be induced by PDAC as bystanders in adjacent healthy tissues, explaining the co-existence of mucinous and non-mucinous lesions and highlighting the need to distinguish between true precursor PanINs and PanIN-like bystander lesions. Our results suggest AGR2 as a tool to stratify PDAC according to cell of origin, highlight that not all PanIN-like lesions are precursors of PDAC, and add an alternative progression route to the current model of PDAC development.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is believed to arise from the accumulation of a series of somatic mutations and is also frequently associated with pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions. However, there is still debate as to whether the cell-type-of-origin of PanINs and PDACs is acinar or ductal. As cell type identity is maintained epigenetically, DNA methylation changes during pancreatic neoplasia can provide a compelling perspective to examine this question, but DNA methylation sequencing has not yet been performed genome-wide on purified exocrine and neoplastic cell types in the pancreas. Thus, we performed genome-wide DNA methylation sequencing on acini, non-neoplastic ducts, PanIN lesions, and PDAC lesions. We found that: 1) both global methylation profiles and block DMRs clearly implicate an acinar origin for PanINs; 2) at the gene level, PanIN lesions exhibit an intermediate acinar-ductal phenotype resembling acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM); and 3) PanINs are epigenetically primed to progress to PDAC. Thus, epigenomic analysis complements histopathology to define molecular progression toward PDAC.
Project description:Chromatin remodeler Brahma related gene 1 (BRG1) is silenced in approximately 10% of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAs). We previously showed that BRG1 inhibits the formation of intraductal pancreatic mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) and that IPMN-derived PDA originated from ductal cells. However, the role of BRG1 in pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia-derived (PanIN-derived) PDA that originated from acinar cells remains elusive. Here, we found that exclusive elimination of Brg1 in acinar cells of Ptf1a-CreER; KrasG12D; Brg1fl/fl mice impaired the formation of acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM) and PanIN independently of p53 mutation, while PDA formation was inhibited in the presence of p53 mutation. BRG1 bound to regions of the Sox9 promoter to regulate its expression and was critical for recruitment of upstream regulators, including PDX1, to the Sox9 promoter and enhancer in acinar cells. SOX9 expression was downregulated in BRG1-depleted ADMs/PanINs. Notably, Sox9 overexpression canceled this PanIN-attenuated phenotype in KBC mice. Furthermore, Brg1 deletion in established PanIN by using a dual recombinase system resulted in regression of the lesions in mice. Finally, BRG1 expression correlated with SOX9 expression in human PDAs. In summary, BRG1 is critical for PanIN initiation and progression through positive regulation of SOX9. Thus, the BRG1/SOX9 axis is a potential target for PanIN-derived PDA.
Project description:Annexins are a multigene family of calcium and phospholipid-binding proteins that play important roles in calcium signaling, cell motility, differentiation and proliferation. Our previous mass spectrometry-based proteomics study revealed that annexin A10 (ANXA10) was uniquely overexpressed in pancreatic CD24+ adenocarcinoma cells that were dissected from clinical PDAC tissues but was absent in CD24- adjacent normal cells. The correlation between ANXA10 expression and the progression of pancreatic cancer remains unknown. In this study, we performed an immunostaining assay to evaluate ANXA10 expression in 155 primary human tissue specimens, including normal pancreas, chronic pancreatitis (CP), pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC), pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN, the most important precursor of PDAC), and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN). The immunostaining result showed that ANXA10 was significantly overexpressed in PanINs, IPMNs, and PDACs but negative in normal pancreas and the majority of chronic pancreatitis tissues. Statistical analysis revealed that ANXA10 expression was significantly associated with PDAC and its precursor lesions (p<0.0001). Abundant ANXA10 expression was predominantly present in pancreatic ductal epithelial cells of PanINs, IPMNs, and tumor cells of PDACs. Since PDAC develops through a series of PanINs which in turn arise from pancreatic ducts, the consistent overexpression of ANXA10 in ductal epithelial cells in PanINs and PDACs but negative in normal pancreatic ducts suggests that ANXA10 could serve as a potential marker indicating the presence of PDAC at its earliest precancerous stages. Double immunostaining of ANXA10 and CD24 showed that there was a large overlap between these two markers in PDAC and high-grade neoplasia lesions. The statistical analysis showed that the coexpression of ANXA10 and CD24 was significantly correlated with the progression of pancreatic precursor lesions towards PDACs.
Project description:The mechanisms of initiation of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are still largely unknown. In the present study, we analysed the role of anterior gradient-2 (AGR2) in the earliest stages of pancreatic neoplasia. Immunohistochemical analysis of chronic pancreatitis (CP) and peritumoral areas in PDAC tissues showed that AGR2 was present in tubular complexes (TC) and early pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs). Moreover, AGR2 was also found in discrete subpopulations of non-transformed cells neighbouring these pre-neoplastic lesions. In primary cells derived from human patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model, flow-cytometry revealed that AGR2 was overexpressed in pancreatic cancer stem cells (CSC) compared with non-stem cancer cells. In LSL-Kras<sup>G12D</sup>;Pdx1-Cre (KC) mouse model Agr2 induction preceded the formation of pre-neoplastic lesions and their development was largely inhibited by Agr2 deletion in engineered LSL-Kras<sup>G12D</sup>;Pdx1-Cre; Agr2<sup>-/-</sup> mice. In vitro, AGR2 expression was stimulated by tunicamycin-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in both KRAS wild-type normal pancreas cells, as well as in KRAS mutated pancreatic cancer cells and was essential for ER homoeostasis. The unfolded protein response proteins GRP78, ATF6 and XBP1s were found expressed in CP and PDAC peritumoral tissues, but in contrast to AGR2, their expression was switched off during TC and PanIN formation. Real-time PCR and ELISA analyses showed that ER stress induced a pro-inflammatory phenotype in pancreatic normal, cancer and stellate cells. Moreover, AGR2 expression was inducible by paracrine transfer of ER stress and pro-inflammation between different pancreatic cell types. Our findings demonstrate that AGR2 induced in ER-stressed and inflammatory pre-neoplastic pancreas is a potential marker of cancer progenitor cells with an important functional role in PDAC initiation.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Invasive pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is thought to originate from duct-like lesions called pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). PanINs progress from low grade (PanIN-1) to high grade (PanIN-3) as the cells attain molecular alterations to key regulatory genes, including activating mutations in the KRAS protooncogene. Despite a well-documented progression model, our knowledge of the initiator cells of PanINs and the transcriptional networks and signaling pathways that impact PanIN formation remains incomplete. METHODS:In this study, we examined the importance of the acinar-restricted transcription factor Mist1 to KrasG12D-induced mouse PanIN (mPanIN) formation in 3 different mouse models of pancreatic cancer. RESULTS:In the absence of Mist1 (Mist1KO), KrasG12D-expressing mice exhibited severe exocrine pancreatic defects that were rescued by ectopic expression of Mist1 in acinar cells. mPanIN development was greatly accelerated in Mist1KO/KrasG12D/+ pancreata, and in vitro assays revealed that Mist1KO acinar cells were predisposed to convert to a ductal phenotype and activate epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and Notch-signaling pathways. CONCLUSIONS:We propose that convergence of EGFR, Notch, and Kras pathways in acinar cells lacking Mist1 leads to enhanced mPanIN formation.
Project description:Efforts to model pancreatic cancer in mice have focused on mimicking genetic changes found in the human disease, particularly the activating KRAS mutations that occur in pancreatic tumors and their putative precursors, pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). Although activated mouse Kras mutations induce PanIN lesions similar to those of human, only a small minority of cells that express mutant Kras go on to form PanINs. The basis for this selective response is unknown, and it is similarly unknown what cell types in the mature pancreas actually contribute to PanINs. One clue comes from the fact that PanINs, unlike most cells in the adult pancreas, exhibit active Notch signaling. We hypothesize that Notch, which inhibits differentiation in the embryonic pancreas, contributes to PanIN formation by abrogating the normal differentiation program of tumor-initiating cells. Through conditional expression in the mouse pancreas, we find dramatic synergy between activated Notch and Kras in inducing PanIN formation. Furthermore, we find that Kras activation in mature acinar cells induces PanIN lesions identical to those seen upon ubiquitous Kras activation, and that Notch promotes both initiation and dysplastic progression of these acinar-derived PanINs, albeit short of invasive adenocarcinoma. At the cellular level, Notch/Kras coactivation promotes rapid reprogramming of acinar cells to a duct-like phenotype, providing an explanation for how a characteristically ductal tumor can arise from nonductal acinar cells.
Project description:Thy-1 (CD90) has been shown to be a potential marker for several different types of cancer. However, reports on CD90 expression in pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions are still limited where PanINs are the most important precursor lesion of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Herein, we investigate candidate markers for PanIN lesions by examining the distribution and trend of CD90 and CD24 expression as well as their co-expression in various stages of PanINs. Thirty cases of PanINs, which were confirmed histopathologically and clinically, were used to evaluate protein expression of CD90 and CD24 by immunofluoresence double staining. CD90 was found to be mainly expressed in stroma around lesion ducts while not observed in acini and islets in PanINs. CD90 also showed increased expression in PanIN III compared to PanIN III. CD24 was mainly present in the cytoplasm and membrane of pancreatic ductal epithelia, especially in the apical epithelium of the duct. CD24 had higher expression in PanIN III compared with PanIN IIIIII or PanIN III. CD90 was expressed around CD24 sites, but there was little overlap between cells that expressed each of these proteins. A correlation analysis showed that these two proteins have a moderate relationship with PanIN stages respectively. These results suggest that co-expression of CD90 and CD24 may have an important role in the development and progression of PanINs, which is also conducive to early detection and treatment of PDAC.
Project description:Understanding the initiation and progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) may provide therapeutic strategies for this deadly disease. Recently, we and others made the surprising finding that PDAC and its preinvasive precursors, pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN), arise via reprogramming of mature acinar cells. We therefore hypothesized that the master regulator of acinar differentiation, PTF1A, could play a central role in suppressing PDAC initiation. In this study, we demonstrate that PTF1A expression is lost in both mouse and human PanINs, and that this downregulation is functionally imperative in mice for acinar reprogramming by oncogenic KRAS. Loss of Ptf1a alone is sufficient to induce acinar-to-ductal metaplasia, potentiate inflammation, and induce a KRAS-permissive, PDAC-like gene expression profile. As a result, Ptf1a-deficient acinar cells are dramatically sensitized to KRAS transformation, and reduced Ptf1a greatly accelerates development of invasive PDAC. Together, these data indicate that cell differentiation regulators constitute a new tumor suppressive mechanism in the pancreas.
Project description:The identification of new biomarkers for preneoplastic pancreatic lesions (PanINs, IPMNs) and early pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is crucial due to the diseases high mortality rate upon late detection. To address this task we used the novel technique of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) on genetically engineered mouse models (GEM) of pancreatic cancer. Various GEM were analyzed with MALDI IMS to investigate the peptide/protein-expression pattern of precursor lesions in comparison to normal pancreas and PDAC with cellular resolution. Statistical analysis revealed several discriminative m/z-species between normal and diseased tissue. Intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) could be distinguished from normal pancreatic tissue and PDAC by 26 significant m/z-species. Among these m/z-species, we identified Albumin and Thymosin-beta 4 by liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), which were further validated by immunohistochemistry, western blot, quantitative RT-PCR and ELISA in both murine and human tissue. Thymosin-beta 4 was found significantly increased in sera of mice with PanIN lesions. Upregulated PanIN expression of Albumin was accompanied by increased expression of liver-restricted genes suggesting a hepatic transdifferentiation program of preneoplastic cells. In conclusion we show that GEM of endogenous PDAC are a suitable model system for MALDI-IMS and subsequent LC-MS/MS analysis, allowing in situ analysis of small precursor lesions and identification of differentially expressed peptides and proteins.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Activating mutations in KRAS are detected in most pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs). Expression of an activated form of KRAS (KrasG12D) in pancreata of mice is sufficient to induce formation of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs)-a precursor of PDAC. Pancreatitis increases formation of PanINs in mice that express KrasG12D by promoting acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM). We investigated the role of the transcription factor Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5) in ADM and KRAS-mediated formation of PanINs. METHODS:We performed studies in adult mice with conditional disruption of Klf5 (Klf5fl/fl) and/or expression of KrasG12D (LSL-KrasG12D) via CreERTM recombinase regulated by an acinar cell-specific promoter (Ptf1a). Activation of KrasG12D and loss of KLF5 was achieved by administration of tamoxifen. Pancreatitis was induced in mice by administration of cerulein; pancreatic tissues were collected, analyzed by histology and immunohistochemistry, and transcriptomes were compared between mice that did or did not express KLF5. We performed immunohistochemical analyses of human tissue microarrays, comparing levels of KLF5 among 96 human samples of PDAC. UN-KC-6141 cells (pancreatic cancer cells derived from Pdx1-Cre;LSL-KrasG12D mice) were incubated with inhibitors of different kinases and analyzed in proliferation assays and by immunoblots. Expression of KLF5 was knocked down with small hairpin RNAs or CRISPR/Cas9 strategies; cells were analyzed in proliferation and gene expression assays, and compared with cells expressing control vectors. Cells were subcutaneously injected into flanks of syngeneic mice and tumor growth was assessed. RESULTS:Of the 96 PDAC samples analyzed, 73% were positive for KLF5 (defined as nuclear staining in more than 5% of tumor cells). Pancreata from Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice contained ADM and PanIN lesions, which contained high levels of nuclear KLF5 within these structures. In contrast, Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice formed fewer PanINs. After cerulein administration, Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice formed more extensive ADM than Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice. Pancreata from Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D;Klf5fl/fl mice had increased expression of the tumor suppressor NDRG2 and reduced phosphorylation (activation) of STAT3, compared with Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice. In UN-KC-6141 cells, PI3K and MEK signaling increased expression of KLF5; a high level of KLF5 increased proliferation. Cells with knockdown of Klf5 had reduced proliferation, compared with control cells, had reduced expression of ductal markers, and formed smaller tumors (71.61 ± 30.79 mm3 vs 121.44 ± 34.90 mm3 from control cells) in flanks of mice. CONCLUSION:Levels of KLF5 are increased in human PDAC samples and in PanINs of Ptf1a-CreERTM;LSL-KrasG12D mice, compared with controls. KLF5 disruption increases expression of NDRG2 and reduces activation of STAT3 and reduces ADM and PanINs formation in mice. Strategies to reduce KLF5 activity might reduce progression of acinar cells from ADM to PanIN and pancreatic tumorigenesis.