Notch mediates TGF alpha-induced changes in epithelial differentiation during pancreatic tumorigenesis

Cancer Cell. 2003 Jun;3(6):565-76. doi: 10.1016/s1535-6108(03)00140-5.


Notch signaling regulates cell fate decisions in a wide variety of adult and embryonic tissues. Here we show that Notch pathway components and Notch target genes are upregulated in invasive pancreatic cancer, as well as in pancreatic cancer precursors from both mouse and human. In mouse pancreas, ectopic Notch activation results in accumulation of nestin-positive precursor cells and expansion of metaplastic ductal epithelium, previously identified as a precursor lesion for pancreatic cancer. Notch is also activated as a direct consequence of EGF receptor activation in exocrine pancreas and is required for TGF alpha-induced changes in epithelial differentiation. These findings suggest that Notch mediates the tumor-initiating effects of TG alpha by expanding a population of undifferentiated precursor cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Nestin
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / pharmacology*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NES protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nes protein, mouse
  • Nestin
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • ErbB Receptors