Overexpression of S100A4 in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas is associated with poor differentiation and DNA hypomethylation

Am J Pathol. 2002 Jan;160(1):45-50. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64347-7.


Using the National Center for Biotechnology Information Serial Analysis of Gene Expression database, we found that S100A4, a calcium-binding protein previously implicated in metastasis, was expressed in five of seven pancreatic carcinoma libraries but not in the two normal pancreatic duct libraries. We confirmed the overexpression of S100A4 using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, which demonstrated that 18 of 19 (95%) pancreatic carcinoma cell lines expressed S100A4. Using immunohistochemistry, we found that 57 of 61 invasive pancreatic carcinomas (93%), 3 of 18 high-grade pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia lesions (17%), and 0 of the 69 low-grade pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia lesions expressed S100A4 protein, whereas normal pancreatic tissue and tissue affected by chronic pancreatitis did not label. Expression of S100A4 was associated with poor differentiation of the pancreatic adenocarcinomas (P = 0.001). We found that three CpG sites in the first intron of the S100A4 gene were approximately 90% methylated in microdissected normal pancreatic duct cells using bisulfite-modified sequencing and in two cell lines and three primary pancreatic carcinomas with a reduced or absent expression of S100A4. In contrast, these CpGs were 100% hypomethylated in 11 of 12 pancreatic cancer cell lines by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction. The association between the expression of S100A4 and hypomethylation of the first intron of S100A4 was statistically significant (P = 0.002). These data suggest that the majority of pancreatic carcinomas undergo selection for hypomethylation and overexpression of S100A4. Because most pancreatic carcinomas express S100A4, it may be a useful target for early detection strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA Methylation
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • S100 Calcium-Binding Protein A4
  • S100 Proteins / genetics*
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • S100 Calcium-Binding Protein A4
  • S100 Proteins
  • S100A4 protein, human