Background/aim: Mutations of the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) tumor suppressor gene have been described in a subset of pancreatic carcinomas. The APC gene modulates the beta-catenin-Tcf pathway. The major player in this pathway is the beta-catenin protein encoded by the beta-catenin gene. A variety of different tumors, including colon, prostate, endometrial, and hepatocellular carcinomas, carry mutations in exon 3 of the beta-catenin gene. The aim of this study was to determine the role of the beta-catenin gene in the genesis of exocrine and endocrine tumors of the pancreas.
Methods: 78 ductal pancreatic adenocarcinomas, 14 ductal pancreatic cancer cell lines, and 33 endocrine pancreatic tumors were evaluated for mutations in exon 3 of the beta-catenin gene by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis and direct DNA sequencing. In addition, 40 ductal pancreatic adenocarcinomas were analyzed for intracellular beta-catenin accumulation by immunohistochemistry, indicating alterations of the beta-catenin gene.
Results: Neither the 111 exocrine and endocrine pancreatic tumors nor the 14 pancreatic cancer cell lines carried mutations in exon 3 of the beta-catenin gene. Intracellular beta-catenin accumulation was not identified in any of the 40 pancreatic adenocarcinomas.
Conclusion: These data suggest that the beta-catenin gene as the major player of the beta-catenin-Tcf pathway does not play an important role in the genesis of pancreatic tumors.