Molecular Pathology of Pancreatic Cancer: In Quest of Tumor Suppressor Genes


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Abstract

To find molecular clues useful for early detection and effective therapy for pancreatic cancer, we first carried out genomic analysis by means of comparative genomic hybridization and micro-satellite analysis. We found very complicated molecular alterations in multiple chromosomal regions, including 1p, 6q, 9p, 12q, 17p, 18q, and 21q for losses and 8q and 20q for gains. These diverse changes are very characteristic of pancreatic cancer, and from this information, we developed a method for detecting the aberrant copy numbers of specific chromosomal regions by fluorescence in situ hybridization in cells collected from pancreatic juice for early diagnosis of pancreatic neoplasms. The regions of losses suggest the existence of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs). We identified DUSP6/MKP-3 at 12q21-q22 as a strong candidate TSG; it showed epigenetic inactivation in some fractions of invasive pancreatic cancer and growth suppression and apoptosis by overexpression in vitro. To determine the pathologic roles of 18q, we introduced a normal copy of chromosome 18 into cultured pancreatic cancer cells. The introduction induced marked suppressions of tumor formation and metastasis formation in vivo. We continue work to more completely understand the complex molecular mechanisms of pancreatic carcinogenesis and to apply the information gained to the clinical treatment of pancreatic cancer.

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