ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:SMAD4 is frequently inactivated and associated with a poor prognosis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Abnormal SMAD4 expression also plays an important role in the malignant progression of PDAC. METHODS:We investigated SMAD4 status in PDAC by immunohistochemical methods to explore the relationships between SMAD4 expression and clinicopathological features and then detected SMAD4 mutations by Sanger sequencing in 95 patients with PDAC to identify new mutation sites in PDAC. We further evaluated the effects of a missense mutation, Y353C, in the SMAD4 MH2 domain, on cell proliferation and migration in vitro. RESULTS:Immunohistochemistry showed that the expression of SMAD4 in PDAC carcinoma tissue was significantly lower than that in normal pancreatic tissue, and negative SMAD4 expression was closely related to tumour diameter, staging, lymph node metastasis and differentiation. Sanger sequencing analysis showed that the rate of SMAD4 mutation was 11.8% in 85 PDAC cases, and the novel SMAD4 Y353C missense mutation identified in this study promoted cell migration and invasion without affecting cell proliferation in vitro. Furthermore, SMAD4 Y353C resulted in reduced expression of E-cadherin and increased expression of Vimentin compared with wild-type SMAD4 overexpression. CONCLUSION:This study supports the key role of SMAD4 as a tumour suppressor gene in PDAC and shows that SMAD4 Y353C is associated with poor progression of PDAC.
Project description:The HMGA2 protein has experimentally been linked to EMT and cancer stemness. Recent studies imply that tumour-stroma interactions regulate these features and thereby contribute to tumour aggressiveness.We analysed 253 cases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and 155 cases of ampullary adenocarcinoma (AAC) for HMGA2 expression by IHC. The data were correlated with stroma abundance and supplemented by experimental studies.HMGA2 acts as an independent prognostic marker associated with a significantly shorter overall survival in both tumour types. Overall, HMGA2-positivity was more frequent in patients with PDAC than with AAC. The HMGA2 status in tumour cells significantly correlated with the abundance of PDGFR?-defined stroma cells. In vivo co-injection of Panc-1 cancer cells with pancreatic stellate cells increased tumour growth in a manner associated with increased HMGA2 expression. Furthermore, in vitro treatment of Panc-1 with conditioned media from PDGF-BB-activated stellate cells increased their ability to form tumour spheroids.This study identifies HMGA2 expression in tumour cells as an independent prognostic marker in PDAC and AAC. Correlative data analysis gives novel tissue-based evidence for a heterotypic cross-talk with stroma cells as a possible mechanism for HMGA2 induction, which is further supported by experimental models.
Project description:BACKGROUND: SMAD4 is a gastrointestinal malignancy-specific tumor suppressor gene found mutated in one third of colorectal cancer specimens and half of pancreatic tumors. SMAD4 inactivation by allelic deletion or intragenic mutation mainly occurs in the late stage of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Various studies have proposed potential SMAD4-mediated anti-tumor effects in human malignancy; however, the relevance of SMAD4 in the PDAC molecular phenotype has not yet been fully characterized. METHODS: The AsPC-1, CFPAC-1 and PANC-1 human PDAC cell lines were used. The restoration or knockdown of SMAD4 expression in PDAC cells were confirmed by western blotting, luciferase reporter and immunofluorescence assays. In vitro cell proliferation, xenograft, wound healing, quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry analysis were conducted using PDAC cells in which SMAD4 was either overexpressed or knocked down. RESULTS: Here, we report that re-expression of SMAD4 in SMAD4-null PDAC cells does not affect tumor cell growth in vitro or in vivo, but significantly enhances cells migration in vitro. SMAD4 restoration transcriptionally activates the TGF-?1/Nestin pathway and induces expression of several transcriptional factors. In contrast, SMAD4 loss in PDAC leads to increased expression of E-cadherin, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and CD133. Furthermore, SMAD4 loss causes alterations to multiple kinase pathways (particularly the phosphorylated ERK/p38/Akt pathways), and increases chemoresistance in vitro. Finally, PDAC cells with intact SMAD4 are more sensitive to TGF-?1 inhibitor treatment to reduced cell migration; PDAC cells lacking SMAD4 showed decreased cell motility in response to EGFR inhibitor treatment. CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed the molecular basis for SMAD4-dependent differences in PDAC with the aim of identifying the subset of patients likely to respond to therapies targeting the TGF-? or EGFR signaling pathways and of identifying potential therapeutic interventions for PDAC patients with SMAD4 defects.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a cancer of the exocrine pancreas and 5-year survival rates remain constant at 7%. Along with PDAC, Periampullary Adenocarcinoma (PAC) accounts for 0.5-2% of all gastrointestinal malignancies. Genomic observations were well concluded for PDAC and PACs in western countries but no reports are available from India till now. METHODS:Targeted Next Generation Sequencing were performed in 8 (5 PDAC and 3 PAC) tumour normal pairs, using a panel of 412 cancer related genes. Primary findings were replicated in 85 tumour samples (31 PDAC and 54 PAC) using the Sanger sequencing. Mutations were also validated by ASPCR, RFLP, and Ion Torrent sequencing. IHC along with molecular dynamics and docking studies were performed for the p.A138V mutant of TP53. Key polymorphisms at TP53 and its associated genes were genotyped by PCR-RFLP method and association with somatic mutations were evaluated. All survival analysis was done using the Kaplan-Meier survival method which revealed that the survival rates varied significantly depending on the somatic mutations the patients harboured. RESULTS:Among the total 114 detected somatic mutations, TP53 was the most frequently mutated (41%) gene, followed by KRAS, SMAD4, CTNNB1, and ERBB3. We identified a novel hotspot TP53 mutation (p.A138V, in 17% of all patients). Low frequency of KRAS mutation (33%) was detected in these samples compared to patients from Western counties. Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulation and DNA-protein docking analysis predicted p.A138V to have oncogenic characteristics. Patients with p.A138V mutation showed poorer overall survival (p?=?0.01). So, our finding highlights elevated prevalence of the p53p.A138V somatic mutation in PDAC and pancreatobiliary PAC patients. CONCLUSION:Detection of p.A138V somatic variant in TP53 might serve as a prognostic marker to classify patients. It might also have a role in determining treatment regimes. In addition, low frequency of KRAS hotspot mutation mostly in Indian PDAC patient cohort indicates presence of other early drivers in malignant transformation.
Project description:Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) supply both carbon and nitrogen in pancreatic cancers, and increased levels of BCAAs have been associated with increased risk of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs). It remains unclear, however, how stromal cells regulate BCAA metabolism in PDAC cells and how mutualistic determinants control BCAA metabolism in the tumour milieu. Here, we show distinct catabolic, oxidative and protein turnover fluxes between cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and cancer cells, and a marked reliance on branched-chain ?-ketoacid (BCKA) in PDAC cells in stroma-rich tumours. We report that cancer-induced stromal reprogramming fuels this BCKA demand. The TGF-?-SMAD5 axis directly targets BCAT1 in CAFs and dictates internalization of the extracellular matrix from the tumour microenvironment to supply amino-acid precursors for BCKA secretion by CAFs. The in vitro results were corroborated with circulating tumour cells (CTCs) and PDAC tissue slices derived from people with PDAC. Our findings reveal therapeutically actionable targets in pancreatic stromal and cancer cells.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a malignancy characterized by a poor prognosis and high mortality rate. Genetic mutations and altered molecular pathways serve as targets in precise therapy. Using next-generation sequencing (NGS), these aberrant alterations can be identified and used to develop strategies that will selectively kill cancerous cells in patients with PDAC. The realization of targeted therapies in patients with PDAC may be summarized by three approaches. First, because oncogenes play a pivotal role in tumorigenesis, inhibition of dysregulated oncogenes is a promising method (Table 3). Numerous researchers are developing strategies to target oncogenes, such as KRAS, NRG1, and NTRK and related molecules, although most of the results are unsatisfactory. Accordingly, emerging strategies are being developed to target these oncogenes, including simultaneously inhibiting multiple molecules or pathways, modification of mutant residues by small molecules, and RNA interference. Second, researchers have attempted to reactivate inactivated tumour suppressors or modulate related molecules. TP53, CDKN2A and SMAD4 are three major tumour suppressors involved in PDAC. Advances have been achieved in clinical and preclinical trials of therapies targeting these three genes, and further investigations are warranted. The TGF-?-SMAD4 signalling pathway plays a dual role in PDAC tumorigenesis and participates in mediating tumour-stroma crosstalk and modulating the tumour microenvironment (TME); thus, molecular subtyping of pancreatic cancer according to the SMAD4 mutation status may be a promising precision oncology technique. Finally, genes such as KDM6A and BRCA have vital roles in maintaining the structural stability and physiological functions of normal chromosomes and are deficient in some patients with PDAC, thus serving as potential targets for correcting these deficiencies and precisely killing these aberrant tumour cells. Recent clinical trials, such as the POLO (Pancreas Cancer Olaparib Ongoing) trial, have reported encouraging outcomes. In addition to genetic event-guided treatment, immunotherapies such as chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T), antibody-drug conjugates, and immune checkpoint inhibitors also exhibit the potential to target tumours precisely, although the clinical value of immunotherapies as treatments for PDAC is still limited. In this review, we focus on recent preclinical and clinical advances in therapies targeting aberrant genes and pathways and predict the future trend of precision oncology for PDAC.
Project description:The importance of Pituitary homeobox 2 (Pitx2) in malignancy remains enigmatic, and Pitx2 has not been previously implicated in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In this study, we performed gene expression profiling of human PDAC tissues and identified Pitx2 as a promising candidate. Pitx2 expression was decreased from 2.6- to 19-fold in human PDAC tissues from microarray units. Immunochemistry staining showed that Pitx2 expression was moderate to intense in normal pancreatic and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplastic lesions, whereas low in human PDAC tissues. The Pitx2 levels correlated with overall patient survival post-operatively in PDAC. Induction of Pitx2 expression partly inhibited the malignant phenotype of PDAC cells. Interestingly, low Pitx2 expression was correlated with Smad4 mutant inactivation, but not with Pitx2 DNA-methylation. Furthermore, Smad4 protein bound to Pitx2 promoter and stimulated Pitx2 expression in PDAC. In addition, Pitx2 protein bound to the promoter of the protein phosphatase 2A regulatory subunit B55? (PPP2R2A) and upregulated PPP2R2A expression, which may activate dephosphorylation of Akt in PDAC. These findings provide new mechanistic insights into Pitx2 as a tumor suppressor in the downstream of Smad4. And Pitx2 protein promotes PPP2R2A expression which may inhibit Akt pathway. Therefore, we propose that the Smad4-Pitx2-PPP2R2A axis, a new signaling pathway, suppresses the pancreatic carcinogenesis.
Project description:Tumor genetics and escape from immune surveillance concur in the poor prognosis of PDAC. In this study an experimental model was set up to verify whether SMAD4, deleted in about 55% PDAC and associated with poor prognosis, is involved in determining immunosuppression through Exosomes (Exo). Potential mechanisms and mediators underlying SMAD4-dependent immunosuppression were evaluated by studying intracellular calcium (Fluo-4), Exo-miRNAs (microarray) and Exo-proteins (SILAC). Two PDAC cell lines expressing (BxPC3-SMAD4+) or not-expressing (BxPC3) SMAD4 were used to prepare Exo-enriched conditioned media, employed in experiments with blood donors PBMCs. Exo expanded myeloid derived suppressor cells (gMDSC and mMDSC, flow cytometry) and altered intracellular calcium fluxes in an SMAD4 dependent manner. BxPC3-SMAD4+, but mainly BxPC3 Exo, increased calcium fluxes of PBMCs (p = 0.007) and this increased intracellular calcium trafficking characterized mMDSCs. The analysis of de-regulated Exo-miRNAs and transfection experiments revealed hsa-miR-494-3p and has-miR-1260a as potential mediators of SMAD4-associated de-regulated calcium fluxes. Eleven main biological processes were identified by the analysis of SMAD4-associated de-regulated Exo-proteins, including translation, cell adhesion, cell signaling and glycolysis. A reverse Warburg effect was observed by treating PBMCs with PDAC-derived Exo: BxPC3 Exo induced a higher glucose consumption and lactate production than BxPC3-SMAD4+ Exo.PDAC-derived Exo from cells with, but mainly from those without SMAD4 expression, create an immunosuppressive myeloid cell background by increasing calcium fluxes and glycolysis through the transfer of SMAD4-related differentially expressed miRNAs and proteins.
Project description:Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) progression is mediated by mutations in driver genes and a complex stroma that is mainly dependent on the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathway. However, the association between driver genes and Shh-pathway proteins and their potential prognostic significance remain unclear. Methods: We analyzed protein expressions of the KRAS, TP53, SMAD4, and CDKN2A/P16 driver genes and the Shh-pathway molecules, including Shh, glioma-associated oncogene (Gli) 1, Gli2, and smoothened (SMO) by immunohistochemistry using tissue microarrays in 237 patients with resectable PDAC and statistically determined their prognostic significance. Results: SMAD4 lost mutation was associated with shorter survival outcomes [overall survival (OS): Hazard ratio (HR) 1.887, p < 0.001]; recurrence-free survival (RFS): HR 1.886, p < 0.001) and abnormal p53 immunolabeling was associated with poor OS (HR 1.436, p = 0.011) in patients with PDAC. The mutational status of p16 had no effect on patient survival. High levels of SMO and Gli1 expression were associated with poor survival outcomes in both univariate and multivariate analyses. Pearson's χ2 test showed a medium correlation between the SMAD4 lost mutation and Shh (R = 0.343) and Gli1 (R = 0.505) expression levels (p < 0.001). Patients with the SMAD4 lost mutation and high levels of Shh and Gli1 expression showed the poorest survival outcomes (RFS: HR 2.976; OS: HR 3.598; p < 0.001 for both) compared with other patients in the study. Conclusion: Loss of SMAD4 associated with a strongly activated Shh pathway resulted in poor survival outcomes in patients with resected PDAC.
Project description:The mechanisms controlling expression of the putative oncogene Anterior gradient 2 (AGR2) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are not well understood. We now show that AGR2 is a transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?)-responsive gene in human pancreatic cancer cells, whose downregulation is SMAD4 dependent. We also provide evidence supporting a role for AGR2 as an ER-chaperone for the cancer-associated mucin, MUC1. AGR2 is both sufficient and required for MUC1 expression in pancreatic cancer cells. Furthermore, AGR2 is coexpressed with MUC1 in mouse pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (mPanIN)-like lesions and in the cancer cells of four distinct genetically engineered mouse models of PDAC. We also show that Pdx1-Cre/LSL-Kras(G12D)/Smad4(lox/lox) mice heterozygous for Agr2 exhibit a delay in mPanIN initiation and progression to PDAC. It is proposed that loss of Smad4 may convert TGF-? from a tumor suppressor to a tumor promoter by causing the upregulation of AGR2, which then leads to increased MUC1 expression, at which point both AGR2 and MUC1 facilitate mPanIN initiation and progression to PDAC.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most aggressive and lethal malignancies. Given that macroautophagy/autophagy activation is prevalent in PDAC, the dual roles of autophagy could be involved in PDAC heterogeneity. In this work, we demonstrated that TGFB1 induced autophagic flux through SMAD4-dependent or SMAD4-independent pathways based on a distinct genetic context. In SMAD4-positive PDAC cells, TGFB1-induced autophagy promoted proliferation and inhibited migration by decreasing the nuclear translocation of SMAD4. Conversely, TGFB1-induced autophagy inhibited proliferation and promoted migration in SMAD4-negative cells through the regulation of MAPK/ERK activation. TGFB1 expression also positively correlated with LC3B expression in PDAC specimens. A high level of LC3B was associated with unfavorable overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) in SMAD4-negative PDAC patients, although LC3B could not predict OS and DFS for the 110 PDAC patients. Thus, TGFB1-induced autophagy contributed to the different patterns of PDAC progression. This knowledge can aid in improving our understanding of the molecular classification of PDAC and might guide the development of therapeutic strategies for PDAC, especially for SMAD4-negative PDAC.Abbreviations: CDH1: cadherin 1; CDH2: cadherin 2; CI: combination index; CQ: chloroquine; DFS: disease-free survival; EMT: epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; ERK: extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase; GFP: green fluorescent protein; IHC: immunohistochemistry; MAP1LC3B/LC3B: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta; MAPK: mitogen-activated protein kinase; OS: overall survival; PBS: phosphate-buffered saline; PDAC: pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; RAP: rapamycin; RFP: red fluorescent protein; RT: room temperature; shRNA: short-hairpin RNA; SQSTM1: sequestosome 1; TCGA: The Cancer Genome Atlas; TEM: transmission electron microscopy; TGFB1: transforming growth factor beta 1; TMA: tissue microarray.